The Buffalo Sabres’ sudden surge in goals and lack of a general manager didn’t stop them from trading for offensive talent Thursday night.
Linus Omark is on his way to Buffalo after the Sabres sent a conditional sixth-round draft pick to Edmonton for the disgruntled forward. Pat LaFontaine, the Sabres’ president of hockey operations, swung the deal during a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins in First Niagara Center.
Omark has spent all but one game in the minor leagues this season, but he made the most of his time in Oklahoma City. Omark is fourth in the American Hockey League with 14 goals and 29 points in 29 games.
“I’m pretty excited to see him and play with him again,” said Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth, who has known Omark for nearly a decade through their time on Swedish national teams. “He’s very talented and he can pretty much do just as much as anyone with the puck. He’s a real good individual player.”
Omark recently told a Swedish newspaper that he was considering going back to his homeland rather than spend the entire season in the AHL. Apparently faced with a Christmas deadline to move the forward, Edmonton accepted Buffalo’s offer.
“Hopefully, he’ll get a chance here,” Enroth said. “Hopefully, he will help us out a bit offensively.”
Omark, selected in the fourth round of the 2007 draft, was unable to secure a role in Edmonton despite a history of offensive success. The 26-year-old scored 20 goals in Sweden’s elite league and Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League before coming to North America in 2010.
He put up 14 goals and 31 points in 28 games with Oklahoma City to earn a call-up with the Oilers in 2010-11. He had five goals and 27 points in 51 games during his rookie season.
After totaling just 32 games in 2011-12, Omark spent a full season in Switzerland. He topped Zug with 69 points, including a league-leading 52 assists, in 48 games. His teammates included NHL players Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner, who came over during the lockout.
Omark wanted to again test his skills in the NHL this season and signed a one-year, $600,000 deal with the Oilers. After getting stuck in Oklahoma City, he decided it was time to move on.
The 5-foot-10, 187-pounder will be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the season. He has eight goals and 30 points in 66 NHL games.
“He’s a very talented young man,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “Maybe it’s perfect timing.”
Omark will join a team that finally feels good about its game. The Sabres should after scoring twice in the final 5:41 to snap a tie at 2. They have won two in a row for only the second time this season.
“It’s nice see that things are starting to turn around,” defenseman Mike Weber said. “We took it to them, and that’s a good feeling.”
Drew Stafford scored the winner, skating around the Boston net and tucking a shot past goaltender Chad Johnson with 5:41 to go. Myers gave the Sabres breathing room, scoring on a rush with 4:21 left.
“We’re a team that’s fun to watch, and we’re getting results now,” said Myers, whose last-place team improved to 3-1-1 in the past five games. “We realize the position we’re still in, and it’s keeping those habits that are giving us that success.”
The Sabres achieved a rarity by opening the scoring. Brian Flynn ended a 19-game drought with Buffalo’s first short-handed goal of the season, but Boston’s Brad Marchand potted two goals in the opening 3:04 of the second period to put the home team in a hole. Marcus Foligno made sure they didn’t stay there.
Teammate Jamie McBain plunked Foligno with a shot at the side of the Boston net, and the forward calmly deposited the carom and raised his arms to celebrate his second goal in as many games. Though Boston outshot the Sabres, 15-5, in the third, goaltender Ryan Miller stopped them all for a standing ovation from the announced crowd of 18,217. The Bruins will seek revenge Saturday when they host the Sabres in TD Garden.
“Eight goals in two games, that’s a huge difference from where we were a week ago,” Weber said. “Guys are finding a way to dig in.”