I’m pretty certain Ales Hemsky is going to be a great hockey player. He’s already a quality winger at age 23 (he turns 24 next month) and has turned in one very nice playoff performance already in his young career.
Hemsky belongs to the family of players who have elite level talent on RW. He reminds me of a young Rick Middleton, and I always say he is from the “Lafleur-Middleton” group. There’s a wide range of skills with exceptional puck handling and passing ability at the center. Hemsky is unlike many in the group because he is willing to give up his body to make a play (google Ales Hemsky and then click on images. MANY of the photos look like the one above) and he routinely makes a pass and takes a hit to have the play succeed.
Redline Report is an excellent prospect guide, but when they said Hemsky had no balls they were wrong (or at least he’s learned to play with more gumption).
Hemsky has played 275 NHL games and has 194 points (.705ppg) in a career that is equally split between the deadball era and the juiced ball. In Rick Middleton’s first 275 games, he had a ppg of .698, so they’re quite similar. Any fool could see (save for the Rangers, poor bastards) that Middleton had all world talent, he just needed to put it together.
Middleton did it after his first 4 seasons, after game 275, exactly where we find Ales Hemsky today. Middleton’s fifth season (71gp, 38-48-86) marked a turning point and he remained healthy and effective for several years. He once said “I used to lose my concentration a lot. And that became a big problem for me. Now I’m into the game more and I bear down harder.”
I think that’s exactly where Hemsky is right now. Maturing. It’s vital that Kevin Lowe get him someone who can take advantage of his exceptional skills, because this team is going to live and die over the next 5 years on the back of the young Czech.
Hemsky is the best young player the Oilers have had in many years. In Jason Arnott’s Oilers career (286 games), he averaged .836ppg and is the last good quality player whose ppg is ahead of Hemsky’s at the same age (among Oilers drafts). Ryan Smyth is just over .500 but isn’t a good comp stylewise and Comrie was .676 which is in the range.
I think Hemsky gets over 85 points this season and this becomes his club for several years running. It’s vital he has another skill player on his line by fall.