Bloody Well Right

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Pouliot didn’t do enough with a wonderful opportunity but remains a guy who looks useful.
  4. 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.

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43 Responses to "Bloody Well Right"

  1. Mr DeBakey says:

    I'll take Oiler RWs for $500, Ales.

    That's Alex, Mark.
    The Oilers alrady have him in the can.

    Who is Jaromir Jagr?

  2. jon k says:

    When breaking down the team's depth position-by-position, it starts to become apparent why the team has been mediocre: most players at most positions had mediocre performances.

    With the exception of the top line, our forward ranks quite simply have not been very good. I would argue further that the top line is probable capable of more and when looking at their combined salary I don't that's unfair.

    Whether it's a product of apathy in a general sense or a failure to properly motivate or utilize the troops, I suspect we'll find out next season. Tambellini can't get rid of all the forwards who underperformed.

  3. Hemsky is a gangsta says:

    Would a line of O'Sullivan-Gagner-Pisani work? Would it be in the Oilers best interests to use a line like that? 34's 5×5 number is not that far off from Hemsky's and historically he has been a guy who can finish. Would playing with those two guys get him more opportunities than the guys he has lined up with under MacT?

  4. Lowetide says:

    Hemsky is a Gangsta: Historically Pisani makes everyone he plays with a little better (remember Raffi and Jarret?) but he's not been healthy for a full season since 06-07.

    O'Sullivan would seem a nice match for him and Gagner being a year older would help too.

    So, yeah. Interesting 2line.

  5. dstaples says:

    Can Quinn break Hemsky of two bad habits:

    1. Overhandling the puck.
    2. Occasional lazy backchecks and point coverage.

    Hemsky is such a terrific play. Perhaps I'm seeing his warts too well after all these years watching him, but these do seem like significant warts to me.

    The overhandling the puck thing is a massive issue, not just because it isn't the best way to play (see any Detroit Red Wings overhandling it a la Hemsky?) but because it makes Hemsky predictable and thus hit-able. Teams know his tendencies, know he's going to hold that puck, and they line him up pretty good.

    He's a tough guy, the Pardubician Prince, but no one is that tough.

  6. Lowetide says:

    Well if lazy backchecks and indifferent play away from the puck is that big an issue, they better take down the statue. I do agree that Hemsky tries to do too much at times and that he'd be much more effective if he wasn't so predictable.

    Then again, he's just approaching his prime and delivers quality every season despite the warts.

    I'd put "worrying about Hemsky" about 400th on the list of things that this team needs to focus on, well below "Kevin Lowe has an outside line."

  7. hunter1909 says:

    What strikes you when looking at the analysis of left and right wings is just how underachieving(my new PC term for crappy) they mostly are.

    I know it had a lot to do with the outgoing coaching, but what really hits home is just how ill defined so many of these players are. As in, what's Pouliot actually good at? What's the matter with Nilsson? That sort of stuff.

    Then there's thecaptainethanmoreau plus Pisani, who both appear to be on their career downside as players, and neither of them I remember were all that much to begin with.

    Thank fuck for my blind Irish faith in Tambellinni and Quinn(which belatedly replaces my former blind faith in Kevin Lowe.

  8. Gerta Rauss says:

    Good memories from the 80's included the goofy songs K-97 used to create as the Oilers ran through the playoffs.One of my faves was "The Wreck of the Terry O'Reilly" spoofed from Lightfoot's Edmund Fitzgerald.

    If i recall,this was during the '88 run when the Oilers won in a 5 game sweep.

    Carry on.

  9. Traktor says:

    I don't think Pisani is getting enough respect here. He's always been one of the best 3rd line checkers in the league.

    He makes those around him better than a lot of 1st line players do.

    Rocket of a shot. Relentless on the forecheck. Wins 80% of 50/50 battles. Always makes the right play.

    Brunette – Horcoff – Pisani

    Now that's what I'm talking about.

  10. Black Gold says:

    Sounds expensive..

  11. rickibear says:

    Would a line of O'Sullivan-Gagner-Pisani work

    A bottom six of:



    Would make me smile

  12. HBomb says:

    Traktor: Brunette-Horcoff-Pisani would be one damn fine "2nd" line.

    I put 2nd in brackets because they'd be playing monster minutes against tough matchups and probably would exceed the Hemsky line (i.e. "1st" line) in terms of ESTOI.

    And nothing wrong with that either – play the hell out of Hemsky on the PP.

    What about this though, using guys we already have?


  13. Traktor says:

    Then why didn't you get me a bigger car?

  14. HBomb says:

    I wonder if the Oilers offered Penner and Nilsson to Colorado, if they'd take those two for Smyth.

    Not sayin', just sayin'….

  15. Lowetide says:

    Throw in O'Marra. :-)

  16. HBomb says:

    LT: and if they wanted Plante as well?

  17. HBomb says:

    Interesting that I go back and read the previous thread and the comments about the use of Horcoff and Hemsky separately.

    Putting Horcoff with O'Sullivan and Pisani gives 10 two finishers as wingers.

    Now if the Oilers could go deal Cogliano+ for Jordan Staal to play with Penner and Hemsky, you've suddenly got two lines that can play some minutes and pot some goals.

    Problem is, where does Gagner fit in that equation? Maybe he's on RW with O'Sullivan-Horcoff and Pisani plays RW with someone like, oh, Sami Pahlsson, on the 3rd line?

  18. shanetrain says:

    hmmmm .. Im not sold on Hemsky being terrific. He would however be a terrific trading chip. This is a business at the end of the day. I want to see the Oil have a great chance to win night in night out. Not go .500 and see the occasional flash of greatness from Hemmer.

    I agree on Pisani.

    Pouliot .. oh man .. I do not get the love affair at all.

    This might upset some people but Stortini doesnt belong in the NHL 'working on his game'. Thats what the AHL is for?

  19. Bar Qu says:

    I'll probably be third on the shanetrain, but Hemsky is terrific and a player the likes of which Oiler fans will talk about 10 or 15 years from now. I don't remember who put up the tracking comparisons on Hemsky, but we are probably looking at a top-15 talent in the league right now (including finishing). Add in his contract and from my position he is untradeable especially considering how little you would get in return.

  20. dstaples says:


    No, don't take down the statue.

    And if Hemsky scores 10 more goals a year, I'll shut up about the backchecking.

    If Hemsky was ever traded, and he came back to Edmonton and put on one of his usual shows, any of us (me included) who ever made a comment about his occasional lapse would be kicking ourselves.

  21. Bruce says:

    I'll agree (politely) with Staples that Hemsky is a terrific player, but I see a few warts as well. Developments in 2008-09 did little to assuage my concerns.

    Let's leave the insults aside and focus on numbers. At even strength, our presumed top playmaker notched just 16 assists, 7th on the club and an embarrassing 164th in the NHL. Make that a 27-way tie for 164th, deadlocked with the likes of Tyler Arnason, Joel Ward and Kyle Okposo, as well as ex-Oilers Sergei Samsonov, Michael Peca, Jason Arnott, and Joffrey Lupul, two of whom accomplished the feat in fewer than Hemsky's 72 GP. Andy McDonald reached the coveted 16 ESA plateau in only 46 games, Tim Connolly in just 48.

    No doubt some will blame this all on Hemmer's linemates inability to finish — eh, Traktor? — but according to Behind the Net, Hemsky's QualTeam was +0.26, by far the highest on the club.

    Speaking of Joffer, here's an interesting comp, mostly from Behind the Net:

    —– ES TOI
    A.Hemsky 1,030:23
    J. Lupul 1,039:42

    —— QualTeam
    A.Hemsky +0.26
    J. Lupul +0.26

    —— QualComp
    A.Hemsky -0.00
    J. Lupul -0.00

    —— G + A = P/60
    A.Hemsky 1.10 + 0.98 = 2.08
    J. Lupul 1.15 + 0.90 = 2.05

    —— +-
    A.Hemsky +44/-40 = +4
    J. Lupul +48/-46 = +2

    —— +-/60
    A.Hemsky +2.69/-2.44 = +0.25
    J. Lupul +2.90/-2.78 = +0.12

    —— G + A = P/60
    A.Hemsky 0.87 + 4.13 = 5.00
    J. Lupul 2.08 + 3.13 = 5.21

    —— +-
    A.Hemsky +29/-4 = +25
    J.Lupul + +25/-0 = +25

    —— +-/60
    A.Hemsky +5.43
    J. Lupul +8.68

    Of course Lupul didn't rack up as many powerplay points as he only played 2.22 minutes per game on the PP, compared to 3.84 for Hemsky (not counting 5v3 where Ales played a lot). Thus Hemsky finished the season 16 points ahead of Lupul. At even strength, however, both players posted the identical 19-16-35; both ended the season +1.

    Of course Lupul, 6 weeks younger, produced his numbers for a lower cap hit of just $2.9 MM. He has since reupped for four more years at $4.25 MM … I wonder if his agent used Hemsky as a comparable?

    Listen, I've watched both guys a lot and I don't think they are very comparable at all (Middleton is much more similar as a player). Personally I'd take Hemmer over Joffer 7 days a week. It is, however, a results-oriented business. Even with all that PP production Hemsky remains stalled around the 0.9 P/G level, and halfway into his "beauty" contract he has yet to reach the 77 points he put up the (22 y.o.) year he signed the extension. He needs to deliver with interest on the back half of that pact.

    Devil's Advocate Mode < off >.

  22. Bar Qu says:


    dude, I love that grouchy old guy attitude that comes grumbling off the page when you write. But even better is the facts you pull out to justify what you're saying.

    It's hard to hear the best player on the Oilers ties for 164th in the league for anything offensive.

  23. Abu says:

    @BarQu: Agreed, in most places. It just seems like LT's place can be different, and Vic Ferrari is motivated by nothing but spite.

    Also, for a guy who clearly prides himself on his intelligence, it seems surprising that the best Ferrari can come up with in terms of insults is "fruit."

  24. Vic Ferrari says:


    Nonsense. Hemsky played more with the puck heading south or already there than most at his position, granted that was mostly due to a lack of alternatives.

    Without checking, I'd be sure that the opposite was true for Lupul.

    I remember an early game vs ANA in SoCal. I remember it mostly because jonathon did one of his head-to-head things. He showed the kid line playing the toughest minutes, but it was wrong. If you go back over the shift charts you'll surely see that MacTavish wanted to avoid the kid line vs quality .. and that Carlyle wanted that. So MacTavish ran them out there once they'd been on the ice 20 or 30 seconds, and with the puck going the right way. Carlyle just kept those guys on the ice, … longest shifts of the season I would think, unless similar stuff happened in other games … because he smelled blood.

    This is the right tactic against Babcock, Carlyle, or even Quenneville imo, though it won't work so well against Renney, Nolan or Hitchcock.

    In any case the kid line would surely have marked up the toughest opp in that game by Desjardins measures, but not by eye.

    Another way to look at it is to consider shots-at-net instead of icetime … which yields the same results. Better yet, consider just shots-directed-at-net against.

    Ignore that and Lupul, Nylander, Briere, Malkin, Lecavalier become tough minutes gods. Acknowledge and misunderstand it (as I suspect you will) and the aforementioned become not only tough minutes gods, but guys that dramatically elevated their games against good players, and got their asses owned against lesser lights.

    Jebus, trying to keep 'Lowetide' good, it's like trying to save France.

  25. Lowetide says:

    Joffrey Lupul is very one dimensional. Seriously. It doesn't give me any great joy to say this (because I thought he'd be a real good scorer) but there are all kinds of basic things he can't do, like get the puck across the blueline against any NHL defenseman or forward.

    You give Lupul's linemates to Hemsky and we're talking about an end-of-the-season award imo.

  26. dstaples says:

    Bruce, that was a clever (and somewhat mischievous) thing to do, comparing Lupul to Hemsky.

    Of course, Hemsky was two players this past year.

    He was one player when teamed up with the highest quality of teammates, Horcoff, Penner, Visnovsky, Grebeshkov, the best the Oilers had.

    He was another player once the Viz got hurt and Penner got banished.

    But I think the toughest thing for Hemsky was that Tootoo hit. (Second-hand) rumour had it that by the end of his shifts for the rest of the year, he was utterly
    wiped out.

    He came back like a dynamo for about two or three games after that hit, but then was simply not the same player for the rest of year.

    He was hurt and frustrated . . .

  27. Lowetide says:

    Guys, I think we're going to take a break for the night. All the best.

  28. Lowetide says:

    Comments are welcome. And previewed. Thanks.

  29. HBomb says:

    Meanwhile, in Detroit, conrgatulations to Mathieu Garon for getting into his first Stanley Cup finals game.

    Not the circumstances he probably wants to be coming into a game under, however. Detroit has been downright spectacular tonight.

  30. PDO says:

    Pretty much. Detroit looks like they need a higher league….

  31. Ducey says:


    I expect you are aware of it but I tripped over a new site:

    I have been following the Baseball version for years, a site that has influenced how all have looked at the game of baseball. Some of their authors have even wound up in front offices using their knowledge of stats.

    Not sure if the same will happen with the hockey version but its likely worth a look now and then.

  32. Lowetide says:

    Ah, damn. Grady Sizemore. Jeebus the Expos traded everybody.

  33. Dennis says:

    LT: can you point me to those threads where you praised Lupul?

    Somehow, I can't remember reading those…

  34. Bruce says:

    Nonsense. Hemsky played more with the puck heading south or already there than most at his position, granted that was mostly due to a lack of alternatives.

    Without checking, I'd be sure that the opposite was true for Lupul.

    Well I actually checked, using the fine site, and I was initially surprised:

    —— ZoneStart (D – O)
    A.Hemsky 314 – 305 = +9
    J. Lupul 313 – 277 = +36 !!

    … so Lupul actually started in the south end more often than Hemsky. However, in terms of where the puck wound up, Hemsky had a huge advantage:

    —— ShiftEnd (O – D)
    A.Hemsky 288 – 250 = +38
    J. Lupul 277 – 344 = -67

    —— ZoneShift
    A.Hemsky +9 +38 = +47
    J. Lupul +36 – 67 = -31

    Phew, I knew there was a reason I like Ales better. He's got a better Corsi as well (+4.3 to -.6.9/60 as per BtN). So yes he has the puck moving in the right direction more, but the results on the scoreboard didn't bear that out. Not this year.

    Ignore that and Lupul, Nylander, Briere, Malkin, Lecavalier become tough minutes gods.

    The chances of me ever calling Joffrey Lupul a tough minutes god may be the mathematically closest to Absolute Zero that I have yet come across.

    In any case the kid line would surely have marked up the toughest opp in that game by Desjardins measures, but not by eye.

    I agree that the eye can tell us things that numbers and metrics, no matter how carefully counted and/or devised, cannot.

    I am very aware of difficulties using QualComp/Team across different teams, but I certainly was startled to see those two "pair up" in both categories. Not to mention by the other similarities in their per/60 counting numbers and especially their ES counting numbers, which were eerily similar to the point I thought it worth mentioning. I'm not so concerned with Lupul's numbers — I could care less, actually — but Hemmer needs to elevate himself right out of the comp.

    Joffrey Lupul is very one dimensional.

    LT: I agree with your assessment of Lupul, and that doesn't cause me joy either. Believe me, it caused me even less joy to report that Hemsky's numbers were so similar. That bizarre convergence perhaps gives us more reason to question the numbers than it does the players, at least the Qual numbers. The production numbers are a matter of record.

    He was hurt and frustrated . . .

    David: I share your concerns about Hemsky's concussion issues. For sure he was a shadow of himself down the stretch. For the third year running, unfortunately … Boogaard concussed him in '07, and he had the bad wrist in '08. In '09 it seemed that both wrist and head were not right. Scary.

  35. DBO says:

    Looking at those RW's, i expect Pouliot to not be in the equation when camp breaks. So you either slide O'Sullivan to RW, or you bring in a RW via trade or FA. I am beginning to like the idea of horcoff away from hemsky more and more. Let our two best offensive players get some minutes together in hemksy and gagner, and allow Horcoff to be a big minute centre with good two way players (Pisani and ? maybe Penner). i guess the question becomes as we head to free agency and a deal or two.

    is it better to get one top LW for big $$$ ($6+) or two solid top 6 players for $7-8 mill total?

    $6+ = Hossa, Havlat, Gaborik, Sedins, Kovalchuk, Lecavalier, Marleau

    $2-4 mill = Tanguay, Clowe, Armstrong, Malone, Hartnell, Zherdev, Sullivan, Koivu, Dubinsky, Frolov, Cole, Guerin, Knuble, Ruutu, Kotalik

  36. Art Vandelay says:

    Moderated. Not moderated. As long as the Rick Middleton references continue, this is my happy place.

  37. Bar Qu says:

    is it better to get one top LW for big $$$ ($6+) or two solid top 6 players for $7-8 mill total?
    $6+ = Hossa, Havlat, Gaborik, Sedins, Kovalchuk, Lecavalier, Marleau
    2-4 mill = Tanguay, Clowe, Armstrong, Malone, Hartnell, Zherdev, Sullivan, Koivu, Dubinsky, Frolov, Cole, Guerin, Knuble, Ruutu, Kotalik

    I'll take box number two please. The same question marks exist for all the players (good things and bad things) but at least you get two players who could complement the current roster. Shoot, I would even be happy-sh with Tanguay.

  38. HBomb says:

    Bruce: noting the obvious deficiency in the QUALCOMP stat when trying to compare players from different teams, I ask this question: wherabouts did Lupul and Hemsky rate among forwards on their teams, respectively, in terms of quality of competition?

    If they have the same absolute number, I don't think that holds as much weight when compared to their relative standing (ex: maybe Lupul's 8th on Philly among forwards in terms of QUALCOMP, while Hemsky is 3rd on the Oilers).

    Hell, I'm going to check for myself actually.

    (Opens up Desjardins' site and bottle of Snapple Peach Iced Tea)


    Here we go: Hemsky tied for 3rd on the Oilers in QUALCOMP among players who played at least 60 games (arbitrary benchmark) with Dustin Penner, behind only Horcoff and Moreau. 11 Oiler forwards hit the sixty game mark.

    Meanwhile, in the City of Brotherly Love, Lupul comes in sixth among the nine Flyer forwards to qualify.

    Oh, and everyone talks about the 1/2 center punches that Pittsburgh (Crosby/Malkin) and Detroit (Zetterberg/Datsyuk) deploy. The one Philadelphia has going on isn't too shabby either (Richards/Carter).

  39. Asiaoil says:

    Would I be happier with a Horcoff-Staal tandem at center? – yeah sure – but Horcoff-Gagner could work as well. Thing is if we go Horcoff-Gagner then Penner stays as we need the size and Hemsky is a given because of talent. I could also be convinced to fill the 2nd line with Gagner, Pisani and POS. Pisser is paid like a 2nd liner so dammit play him there already.

    Doing it this way means few changes in the top 6 – but a boatload in the bottom 6. Cogs and Nilsson get sent away for ??? Maybe to move up in the draft? Moreau gets dumped for simply being so bad at captaining and for taking so many dumb penalties.

    Penner Horcoff Hemsky
    POS Gagner Pisani
    xxx xxx xxx
    JFJ Brule Storts/Mac

    Just totally rebuild the 3rd line using Cogs, Nilsson and MAP as bait – plus UFAs. Staios and Gilbert can also be moved to help this, for cap reasons, and for more draft picks or to move up in the draft. Give me a rock hard veteran 3rd line with the top 6 described above plus cap flexibility going forward to add an elite piece later.

    This summer is more about tearing down past errors and setting a sound foundation. We need cap space next year to add from a position of strength – but you can't do it all in one summer since Lowe left such a a mess. One step at a time – rebuild the 3rd line, get back some cap flexibility, add an elite draft pick – that's more than enough for me short-term.

  40. King Aardvark says:

    Is that guy's name seriously Frig? That's friggin' awesome.

  41. Lowetide says:

    King: Yep. Len Frig. I remember him because the Seals dealt Ivan Boldirev (their best player) to Chicago for him and Mike Christie, who became famous in Don Cherry's book "Grapes."

  42. Bruce says:

    Bruce: noting the obvious deficiency in the QUALCOMP stat when trying to compare players from different teams, I ask this question: wherabouts did Lupul and Hemsky rate among forwards on their teams, respectively, in terms of quality of competition?

    HBomb: You're right, it does seem to be a deficiency. Let me say again that in no way do I consider Hemsky and Lupul to be similar players, but judging by those selected BtN metrics they were separated — and not very far — at birth.

    I agree with your suggestion to see how they rank within their own teams, which provides more context to some stats (e.g. +/-) than across teams. From what I saw of Philly Lupul teamed up with Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell on a very strong second line, with Gagne-Richards-Knuble taking on, and beating, the toughs.

    Whereas Hemsky has definitely been on the 1Line all year, with no obvious other line to divide the attention of opposing coaches and checkers.

    Following that up on, when it comes to QualTeam, both players were blessed with very strong linemates:

    Lupul: (934:54 accounted for)

    Hartnell 63%
    Carter 57%
    Richards 19%

    Coburn 42%
    Carle 35%
    Timonen 29%

    Hemsky: (954:51 accounted for)

    Horcoff 72%
    Penner 38%
    Gagner 15%

    Souray 39%
    Gilbert 37%
    Grebeshkov 33%

    You give Lupul's linemates to Hemsky and we're talking about an end-of-the-season award imo.

    LT: I dunno. The Philly line certainly produced offensively, were less than superb defensively, and were all well in the red for Corsi:

    Carter -6.1
    Hartnell -6.4
    Lupul -6.9

    … with the first two posting a negative Corsi even when separated from Lupul. As a trio they scored 36 GF, allowed 24 GA.

    Compared to:

    Horcoff +0.4
    Penner +7.0
    Hemsky +4.3

    … with Horc's numbers suffering a little due to his extra defensive responsibilities, but still above the water line. As a trio they scored 21 GF, 5 GA.

    Both had excellent linemates. Perhaps the bigger difference is that Lupul et al saw secondary opp cuz they had a complementary line that was even better than they were. Put Hemsky in Lupul's spot and the comp would have had their hands full, for sure.

    King Aardvark: Len Frig is a name for the ages.

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