Photo courtesy of Steven Christy.
Sir Linus, the wizard with the big mouth and big game, has returned to Oil Country after a banishment to Switzerland with Zug. The Swiss exile began last season and earned him 69 points in just 48 games. There’s no denying that once Omark left the good graces of the Steve Tambellini era that we’d likely never see him playing in North America again. Our hunches were incorrect, and the newly hired Craig MacTavish makes a “bold move” in rehiring the winger.
The details of the deal are interesting, and still not entirely realized at this point. We know that it’s a one-year deal, and that it’s likely a two-way offer. You’ll recall that Teemu Hartikainen turned down a similar offer because of his desire to have a one-way deal. I’m shocked/intrigued by Omark agreeing to a two-way deal given the recent history of the Oilers sacking him away in Oklahoma City. Do I think Omark lands in the AHL at some point in the season? Maybe, but I hope not. Speculation dictates that MacTavish has made some closed-door promises that assured Linus he would play heavy NHL minutes.
I’ll let the Oiler’s writers convince you that he will play in the NHL lineup (Copper & Blue, Lowetide, Black Dog Hates Skunk) are good starts), but for now let’s speculate about Oklahoma City just a bit.
You will probably recall that Linus Omark wasn’t entirely fond of Oklahoma City the first go round. It wasn’t entirely the city’s fault, but rather the circumstance. Linus wanted NHL minutes, felt slighted by the big club, remained cranky in the minors. He then moved on to greener pastures in the picturesque land of the Swiss. Todd Nelson, despite a valiant effort, had a difficult time reeling in the talented Omark. Very few will admit this, but while Omark was a Baron much of the offensive play was built around one player. That player was remarkable, doing things that we’ve not seen any other minor league prospect do before or after his time. That made things difficult for the coaching staff in OKC, and the rare appearance of Omark in a Barons sweater has to give meat sweats to a Todd Nelson who runs a really tight, and very productive ship.
Dallas Eakins is the guy in Edmonton, and that becomes a bigger story than maybe we realize. His no-fuss tendencies make you wonder what type of relationship he will have with Omark. Keep in mind, Dallas is capable of wrangling in the greatest of mouths, and various temperaments. He helped shape the game of Nazem Kadri, lest we’ve forgotten.
In the end this is a huge story for the Oilers. Omark went from an asterisk to what will likely be a full-time NHL player. I never dreamed that he would make a return to North American hockey within the same organization that drafted him. Color me surprised, excited, and eager to see him prove the universe wrong.