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Principe's Blog: Omark-ing His Territory

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Linus Omark celebrates one of his goals last night vs. the Toronto Marlies. (Photo by Steven Christy / OKC Barons)

The Edmonton Oilers had just beaten Chicago 2-1...a second straight win over the Cup champs. They did it in dramatic fashion with two goals in 14 seconds. It was a proud and happy bunch that exited the United Center. That was the top story for the Oilers but also making headlines was Linus Omark.

How about what he did last night? It's not often -- if ever -- you get to witness a five goal performance but those that watched Oklahoma City face Toronto saw that from the Swede. Down 4-1 they stormed back on five straight goals by Omark. Then with the cake already made he added the icing to it by potting a shootout goal. As a result of that performance Omark was named the AHL player of the week.

He was the first American Hockey League player to score five goals in a game in more than two years. In the history of the Edmonton Oilers five goals in a game has only been accomplished five times. Three times it was Wayne Gretzky and once a piece for Jari Kurri and Pat Hughes. That's in more than three decades of hockey and it came at a time when they regularly scored six, seven, eight goals in a game. This isn't to suggest that Omark would do the same thing in the NHL but that many goals in any kind of organized hockey game is impressive.

While Omark had to be thrilled with that performance he was feeling anything but that when he was sent to the AHL. I remember the day the Oilers made their final cuts from camp and all others who were reassigned naturally felt disappointed but the forward was much so he made it clear the move, in his mind, wasn't the right one. He said that the game in North America was political and when asked if he received a fair shot to make the Oilers his response was "Do you think so?"

It was clear to him that he hadn't and he wasn't afraid to let everyone know that. Omark came to camp for a first time with great expectations. I don't think it was a case of not living up to his youtube generated fame but his timing in shootouts was great but not the case regarding his arrival in Edmonton. His case wasn't helped as he tried to burst onto the scene at the exact same time as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi.

Getting three rookies into your top six forwards is a once in a decade proposition and trying to shoehorn another one in there wouldn't have made sense. Would you have put Omark ahead of those three kids? Ahead of Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner? The answer is no and no...but that's just for now. I think with his response verbally at camp and now on the scoreboard and the stats sheet the 23-year old is making a case for himself to be looked at for a promotion.

If the Oilers have a down year then at some point he should get a chance for some NHL experience. If they are closer to a playoff spot then many expect then who knows how valuable his scoring ability could be when the games get tighter and more defensive minded. This kid has NHL talent and it appears attitude. He's upped his call up ability with his recent performance. That doesn't go unoticed by anyone including coaches and management.

Linus Omark will be an Oiler...the question is when? We'll just have to wait in order to Omark that day on the calendar.
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