This is Rick Middleton. I always felt Ales Hemsky would emerge as a similar talent, and in terms of offense he’s tracking nicely. It took awhile for the light to go on for Middleton, but by age 25 he was delivering at 1.21 points-per-game clip in a league that scored 3.5 goals per game; Hemsky at 25 delivered .917 point-per-game total in a league that averaged 2.92 goals per game. I’d say he’s in the range with Nifty, a little behind but still in the conversation.
Middleton was a wonderful PP winger who could also help on the penalty-kill, and enjoyed a varied group of linemates (notably Peter McNab, soft hands and terrific in the slot, and Terry O’Reilly who brought grit and toughness) over his Bruin seasons.
The Oilers have tried a few different options for Hemmer in terms of linemates and down the stretch in 2006 the Hemsky unit (Horcoff and Smyth for the most part) looked to have some magic. Since then, we’ve spent a portion of every summer (and untold assets) looking for Terry O’Reilly and if you listen to Steve Tambellini’s remarks in regard to the off-season plan it reads like a Smyth/O’Reilly scouting report. What’s that Joni Mitchell line? Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone?
As it is, RW looks pretty strong with the kid from Pardubice entering his prime. The numbers are 5×5/60; 5×4/60; quality of competition; quality of linemate; +/- in endzone faceoffs and then 5×5/GF-GA ON.
- Hemsky: 2.08/5.00/2nd level/toughest/+9/44-40
- Pisani: 1.81/0.00/toughest/3rd level/+20/21-22
- Pouliot: 1.67/1.90/soft parade/3rd level/-12/25-26
- Stortini: 1.76/0.00/soft parade/dregs/+23/17-21
A few notes:
- Hemsky delivered at a nice clip, not Hart-level but he’s 25 and remains a terrific player on a club with plumbers and promise.
- Pisani performed well against tough competition but health remains a concern and one wonders how much the club can count on him season to season.
- Pouliot didn’t do enough with a wonderful opportunity but remains a guy who looks useful.
- Stortini had a season somewhat similar to (but less impressive than) Kyle Brodziak based on their numbers using this series of measurements. He’s an NHL player, and could see a larger role with the new coach.
There’s some talent here.