The trade of Ryan Smyth at the deadline means that the Edmonton Oilers are now Ales Hemsky’s team. We could have guessed it when the Oilers signed him to that big contract in the summer of 2006. As a matter of fact, let’s review the money transactions from the summer of 2006:
- June 28: Oilers decline the $1.9 million option on the contract of goaltender Ty Conklin, making him an unrestricted free agent as of July 1, 2006.
- June 30: Oilers decline the option on the contract of center Todd Harvey, making him an unrestricted free agent as of July 1, 2006.
- June 30: Oilers re-sign winger Fernando Pisani to a four-year, $10 million contract. Pisani, who would have become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, scored 18-19-37 in 80 regular season games, but his stock really rose in the playoffs, where he added 14-4-18 in 24 games.
- July 1: Oilers re-sign goaltender Dwayne Roloson to a three-year, $11 million contract. Roloson, who would have become an unrestricted free agent at noon, will earn $4 million in each of the first two years of the deal, and $3 million in the final year.
- July 4: Oilers sign unrestricted free agent center Marty Reasoner to a two-year, $1.9 million contract.
- July 6: Oilers sign unrestricted free agent defenceman Daniel Tjarnqvist to a one-year, $1,625,000 contract.
- July 12: Oilers re-sign center Shawn Horcoff to a three-year, $10.8 million contract.
- July 21: Oilers re-sign centre Jarret Stoll to a two year, $4.4 million contract.
- July 25: Oilers re-sign right winger Ales Hemsky to six year, $24.6 million contract.
- Aug. 11: Oilers sign unrestricted free agent right winger Petr Sykora to one-year, $2.9 million contract.
- Sept. 13: Oilers sign right winger Joffrey Lupul to a three-year, $6.935 million contract.
If we want to go back farther we can talk about Steve Staios and his 4-year deal signed in November 2006.
Another indicator is the stated priority of finding a shooter for Hemsky’s line this offseason. The Oilers have decided they’ll ride Hemsky for better or worse.
Ales Hemsky: A brilliant player. Hemsky’s skill level is elite, he has end-of-season 1st All Star talent, he could win a major award talent. Hemsky’s growth as a player has been splendid (over last three NHL seasons his ppg numbers are .479, .951, .828 and that final number was on an extreme Punch and Judy team) and there’s every reason to expect this season will see him take another step forward as a player. He’s also in the two or three year zone where impact players emerge (going from Rick Middleton to something very special) although he isn’t there yet. His powerplay number is quality.
- ES Points-per-60mins: 2.09
- PP Points-per-60mins: 5.45
- Desjardins Quality of Opposition: 318/676
- Prediction: 26-62-88
Fernando Pisani: That tremendous playoff run added to the big contract raised offensive expectations to well beyond reasonable, but I’d say that this past season (14-14-28 in 77gp) is aiming a little low if Pisani plays on a line with two skill forwards. His last three NHL seasons have been .395, .463 and .364 and if Pisani spends the majority of this season with Stoll and Torres then 20 goals isn’t out of sight. Another consideration in regard to Pisani’s offense this past season was the quality of opponent faced every night.
- ES Points-per-60mins: 1.39
- PP Points-per-60mins: 1.59
- Desjardins Quality of Opposition: 37/676
- Prediction: 17-20-37
Patrick Thoresen: He had a very nice start to last season and then slumped forever. Rookies who have dry spells aren’t exactly uncommon and I’d think that Thoresen’s offense will be better this coming season. He’s a very good young player who makes clever plays, works hard and plays an intelligent game. He might get some 2line minutes due to injuries, slumps etc. this season.
- ES Points-per-60mins: 1.15
- PP Points-per-60mins: 3.26
- Desjardins Quality of Opposition: 370/676
- Prediction: 12-14-26
Zach Stortini: I think Stortini will be on a shuttle between Springfield and Edmonton this season, but until they sign or trade he’s as likely a candidate as anyone (it was between Stortini and Brodziak on my list). Stortini isn’t going to be a scorer, but he’s a guy coach MacT has some confidence in for those 6-10 4line minutes per night.
- ES Points-per-60mins: .31
- PP Points-per-60mins: 0
- Desjardins Quality of Opposition: Not listed
- Prediction: 4-2-6