Should the Leafs target Linus Omark? (Yes) Will they? (No)

The Toronto Maple Leafs probably won’t be trading for Linus Omark at the NHL draft in June, although they probably should. There is a lot of dead weight on the roster and the third and fourth lines could probably use a massive shake-up.

One of the guys who will be made available is probably going to be Omark, and he will be shipped out of Edmonton for pennies on the dollar after committing the heinous crime of only being an “okay” hockey player, which isn’t good enough for the Oilers, it seems.

NHL players don’t grow on trees, but we have in one corner a player who is angry enough at his former organization who never gave him a real shot against an organization that mis-used him. Copper n Blue has a very good run-down of it all, and it looks like Omark is out. So he needs a team. I think Toronto is a team that needs some skill up front and players who can move the puck forward.

What is Omark? He’s a forward with some skill and can move the puck forward. He was a player who had a terrific puck-possession season in 2011, only to follow it up with a brutal 14 games in 2012, although much of the issues came during his second call-up in March. Omark was introduced to North American audiences like so a few years back:

Sneaky stuff. But he’s been a reliable 5-on-5 player as well. If you total up how Oilers players do with Omark on the ice, as opposed to not, you’d find that he makes them slightly better: the combined Corsi rate of Edmonton players playing with Omark was .488, while it was .465 without.

As for goal scoring, Omark has 8 goals in 65 NHL games, which puts him at a rate of 10.1 per 82 games. However, he has a below average NHL shooting percentage, meaning that that number is probably lower than it deserves to be. We don’t know, because Omark did not get a fair shake in Edmonton.

How does he compare with current Leaf third liners? Here are the numbers of Colby Armstrong, Matthew Lombardi and Joey Crabb, players who generally got third line minutes in Toronto, over their last two seasons with the Leafs (just the one for Lombardi):

  Goals / 82 SOG / GP Sh%
Lombardi 10.6 1.63 7.9%
Omark 10.1 1.54 8.0%
Crabb 10.0 1.10 11.1%
Armstrong 9.3 1.05 10.8%

He’s basically Matt Lombardi offensively, except Omark will be lucky this summer if he makes 30% of what Lombardi does.

What attracts me to him mainly is how cheap the price tag is. Mark Spector tweeted this today:

NHL players don’t grow on trees at the cost of depth draft picks. Where is the risk in giving up a pick that probably won’t result in an NHL call-up for a player who is an NHL call-up right now, and maybe more, depending on usage? Edmonton never played him down the stretch with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jordan Eberle to increase his value, instead, leaving him to wallow in third line minutes. In two years, he’s seen about 17 minutes of ice-time with Taylor Hall, and about 23 minutes with Jordan Eberle.

It’s going to be tough to re-build the Leafs in their current form because there are so many guys like Armstrong and Lombardi who provide little of value while soaking up cap space. You have to cut corners somewhere, and cornering the market on castaways who have the potential to be useful is one way to do it. There’s no risk attached, as you can easily bury him in the minors if he doesn’t work out in Toronto as you want him to.

I don’t think Brian Burke will get him because he isn’t a Brian Burke type of player, but he can be a useful hockey player as a guy who moves the play north and can score you 10-15 goals with maybe a bit of powerplay time added. Also worth noting: he isn’t the only guy the Leafs should go after this offseason, but scooping him up for nothing would represent progress.

  • As an Oiler fan…you Leafs can have him.He wasn’t better then the other kids and didn’t fit into the checking role of the lower lines.

    He didn’t even make Team Sweden for the World Championships and has done nothing but complain publicly about his time in Edmonton (albeit he did never really get a fair shake). Also, I read yesterday on Oilers Nation that he isn’t all that well perceived in the locker room.