Mar 6, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Linus Omark (23) passes the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the second period at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE
To begin my (our) discussion about a potential Avalanche trade target we first have to talk about a different team. A team that is mildly familiar to most of use and painfully familiar to those of us living in America's leader in hotel occupancy growth: The Edmonton Oilers and their AHL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons. Two years ago, when the Barons first moved to OKC after their scorched earth season in Springfield, the Oilers had all the young prospects and players up to lovely Alberta. Then they sent everybody back down the day before the season started and the Barons got monkey-stomped on Opening Night. There was reportedly some anger and some resentment among the Barons. Not necessarily for the beatdown from Houston, but more from the fact that none of the OKC guys felt they had a legit shot to make the big club out of camp. There were rumblings that the depth chart in Edmonton was set before camp and players weren't given a shot to earn a spot with the team. You could call that sour grapes or mismanagement depending on which side of the argument that your on.
One of the players on that team was Swedish left wing Linus Omark. He of the 3 points in two preseason games for the Oilers. But alas, he was sent to sweeping plains of Oklahoma. He pointedly blamed his 'demotion' on 'politics.' Still, he went on to have a strong start to the AHL season and got a call-up before too long. Heck, he had a 51-game stint with the big club and put up 27 points! Based on that production (and his 3 points in 6 AHL playoff games), he started last season in Edmonton. 5 games into the season he was sent down to the A and there were grumblings that he felt he wasn't given a legit shot and that then-Oilers coach Tom Renney had soured on him and held a grudge. The guys over at Copper and Blue had a great post on Omark's 2011-2012 Oiler season. Regardless of the real reasons behind his demotion, Omark didn't feel that he had a legitimate shot to be a valued member of the Edmonton Oilers going forward and has essentially asked for a change of scenery.
Omark entered the off season as an RFA for the Oilers and they shocked many by qualifying him. He has yet to sign that offer, however. So why are the Oilers holding on to his rights? Trade bait? A legit shot at the club this year? Injury depth? They're trying to collect all the Euros? Not really sure, but one thing I do know is that even with the signing of P.A. Parenteau, the Avs could use some depth on left wing and dealing one of our organization strength defensemen to Edmonton for a out-of-favor Swede with first-class skills who is NHL-ready isn't the worst idea I've had this week.
Given his output last season, this very well may be Milan Hejduk's last rodeo. Once he's gone, there's a gaping hole in the top 9 on wing, and I'm not sure the undersized duo of Mike Connolly (5'-9") and Michael Sgarbossa (5'-11") or not-sure-if-he's-capable-of-playing Joey Hishon will provide any help this year if we have an injury in the top 9.
My proposal is to send Cameron Guance + a 4th to Edmonton for Omark. Edmonton gets organizational depth with a legitimate defenseman in Guance who can play now (especially if Justin Shultz gets thrown under the bus early and often). He's not as far off as Oscar Klefbom and could pair well with Jeff Petry going forward. Plus getting anything for Omark at this point is a bonus for Edmonton. He has been mismanaged much like Paajarvi due to a lack of quality minutes and linemates, but Linus won't generate a first round-ish return like Magnus might. Omark gets a fresh start and Guance gets a chance to crack an NHL lineup with a shallow depth above him and accelerate his development.
The lines would then look something like this:
The top power play unit would roll out Stastny, Landeskog, Duchene, Jones, and Johnson. 2nd unit would have O'Reilly, Omark, Parenteau, Hejduk, and Wilson? Another aspect of Omark's game that would come in handy is his propensity in the shootouts. Can you imagine a top 3 of Duchene, Omark, and Hejduk taking shots with Varlamov shutting down the opposition?
The only real point of my rambling, incoherent response that was even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought was that Omark is good. Top 9, high skill good. And he fills a need. And we have assets that can be used to fill a need for the trade partner that represents a rare win-win for both sets of teams and players. Does anybody else share my opinion? Different trade bait? Or would you rather forget Omark?