Wednesday, 29 August 2012

YouTube Sensation Goes Swiss

It appears that Linus Omark's assault on goaltenders will head back to Europe this season as the YouTube sensation signed with EV Zug of Switzerland's National League A. While Omark came over to North America with a ton of hype thanks to a few YouTube clips of some rather spectacular goals, the truth was that he was more suited to an open-ice, free-wheeling game than he was a systematic game that limited his creativity. That's not a criticism of the Oilers, but rather an observance of how Omark played the game. Back-checking wasn't always the first item on his list, and it was clear that he wouldn't be the same player that everyone had seen on YouTube unless the Oilers played every game in the shootout.

So Omark heads to Switzerland where the sheet of ice is larger and the defence is played a little looser than what he saw in the AHL and NHL. That's not to say that the competition won't be solid, but Omark should be able to find a little more room to pull off some razzle-dazzle if he so chooses.

Omark played in just 14 games with the Oilers last season, scoring three goals. In 65 career NHL games, Omark recorded a disappointing eight goals and 22 assists. While younger players take time to develop, Omark is now 25 years-old. He either needs to develop at an advanced rate over the next couple of years, or he's the next Robbie Schremp - lots of amazing talent and potential, but very little hockey maturity.

Players such as Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would all be penciled in ahead of Omark on the Oilers' roster this season based on talent alone, and that means a number of veterans may also be slotted ahead of the Swede. With players like Magnus Paajarvi, Teemu Hartikainen and Nail Yakupov waiting in the wings to crack the Oilers on a full-time basis, Omark's chances as an offensive threat dwindled greatly last season.

With his defensive game nowhere near the level that is needed as an NHL forward, Omark's days were certainly numbered as an Oiler. He may have fit in with the Oklahoma City Barons again, but Omark clearly wanted more. In walking away from the Oilers, Omark may still have a chance to crack an NHL roster, but he'll need to show that he regained both confidence and scoring ability in his year with EV Zug.

It's a shame that Omark never found his groove in North America. He has an incredible amount of talent, but he never seemed like he was willing to put the work in to get to the next level. Here's hoping that the Swiss air will put him back in the right state of mind.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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