RE 09-10: Ales Hemsky

The day Edmonton traded Ryan Smyth the team became Ales Hemsky’s. Sure, there are other quality men on the team, but each summer is spent discussing linemates for 83, should we trade 83 (this summer it was Matheson who mentioned it) and what can we do to get mad max from Hemsky.

I’m not certain what people are waiting for, Ales Hemsky has made himself known to us for quite some time. He is a surreal, sublime talent with an incredible ability to create beautiful goals. Just on pure entertainment value this guy is worth the money spent, but his wheelhouse is with the man advantage. Don’t take Hemsky into the alley, don’t take him to a fistfight, but when you’re playing hockey and trying to score a goal this fellow should be front and center.

  • Boxcars: 72gp, 23-43-66, 32pims
  • Shots: 185
  • Plus Minus: +1
  • Corsi: 4.3
  • GF/GA ON: 44-40
  • 5×5/60: 2.08
  • 5×4/60: 5.00
  • Quality of Competition: 2nd level
  • Quality of Teammates: best available
  • FO %: 0-for-4
  • 09-10 Cap Hit: $4.1M (nhlnumbers.com)
  1. What do those numbers tell us? Hemsky’s contract is the best in the organization and his delivery system on the powerplay is among the best in the business (best among wingers in the NW based on 5×4/60 among the men who were hired for the purpose). Hemsky is not as effective at EV strength (among RW’s who played the entire season he ranks 4th in the division–behind Iginla, Burrows and Demitra. source: Desjardins) and that is the reason (I believe) for all the chatter about finding him a left-winger. His Corsi is a nice number.
  2. How could the numbers be better? They could play him more (all the time) on the powerplay. Calgary gets Iginla way more time with the man advantage. They could also hire a shooter to play left wing. He’s also entering his prime, so the numbers will probably be better for the next few years.
  3. What about Horcoff? I think he’s an ideal center for Hemsky–except for the fact that he’s not a natural goal scorer. Horcoff is a very smart player and not everyone can play with 83 (as we’ve learned). Hemsky is not a cerebral player like Sam Gagner, he’s all reflex and reaction ala Guy Lafleur. Horcoff’s the guy.
  4. What about LW? Earlier this summer I talked about the importance of Peter McNab to Rick Middleton’s career and mentioned staying the course with Dustin Penner or moving in Patrick O’Sullivan. I think O’Sullivan’s strengths (he’s a shooter, outshot Penner 187 to 89 at 5×5 last season–that’s an amazing stat) might give him the edge over the poor man’s Frank Mahovlich in this way. Dany Heatley would have been electric on Hemsky’s portside btw.
  5. Will Quinn continue to play him against tougher opposition? From what we read Quinn isn’t so much interested in matching up against a specific forward(s) as getting his men good situations against the other club’s defenders. Even if he just rolls the 4lines with Hemsky getting extra powerplay minutes the numbers should be there.
  6. What Else? I think Quinn and Renney will probably use him more like Anaheim uses Selanne–softer opposition for 83 with the idea that the team holds the other guy at bay and makes hay with Hemsky.
  7. How Important is Hemsky to this team? Watching this team without Hemsky is like being the French in World War Two–it’s only a matter of time.
Quick Facts
  • 06-07 5×5 per 60m: 2.09
  • 07-08 5×5 per 60m: 2.36
  • 08-09 5×5 per 60m: 2.08
  • 06-07 5×4 per 60m: 5.45
  • 07-08 5×4 per 60m: 5.93
  • 08-09 5×4 per 60m: 5.00
  • 06-07 EVS: 804 minutes, 12:33 per game
  • 07-08 EVS: 1074 minutes, 14:31 per game
  • 08-09 EVS: 1030 minutes, 14:18 per game
  • 06-07 PP: 275 minutes, 4:18 per game
  • 07-08 PP: 286 minutes, 3:52 per game
  • 08-09 PP: 305 minutes, 4:14 per game
Predictions Past 2007-08
  • Predicted: 82gp, 26-62-88 (1.07 per game)
  • Actual: 74gp, 20-51-71 (.959 per game)
Predictions Past 2008-09
  • Predicted: 73gp, 26-67-93 (1.27 per game)
  • Actual: 72gp, 23-43-66 (.917 per game)

Prediction for 2009-10: 75gp, 24-66-90 (1.20 per game)

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38 Responses to "RE 09-10: Ales Hemsky"

  1. Forain says:

    LT, what do you make of the slight drop in 5×5 and 5×4 per 60 numbers? Do you think there were some lingering effects from the concussion? I know we're not talking about a trip in an elevator shaft, but I was hoping for 90 pts for 08/09…

  2. PDO says:

    Beautiful player, and a fantastic contract to boot.

    I think you might be pushing it though.

    To put it into perspective, there were 5 players with a PPG of 1.2 or better.

    Ovechkin (1.39), Malkin (1.38), Crosby (1.34), Semin (1.27) and Datsyuk (1.2)

    Kariya and Gaborik too, but they didn't even play 30 games combined.

    I certainly won't complain, and a season like that would go a long way to getting us back into this second season I've heard exists, they call it the "playoffs," I believe.

    But that's one hell of a high bar.

  3. Coach pb9617 says:

    "In a broader sense, while together with Penner and Horcoff, Hemsky's scoring rate is 3rd among right wings behind Jarome Iginla and Daniel Alfredsson. Horcoff's rate is 10th among centers. Without Penner, Hemsky's rate is 15th among right wings and Horcoff's rate is not in the top 45 in the league among centers."

    To put it into perspective, there were 5 players with a PPG of 1.2 or better.

    Hemsky is 1.08 PPG with Penner & Horcoff in 72 games over two years.

    Last year he was 1.27 in 26 games with Penner & Horcoff.

  4. Lowetide says:

    Forain: I think the Oilers in 08-09 had a coach scrambling and the 1line was broken up despite good results. Had Penner stayed on the line all season I don't think it would have been quite as much of a dip.

    PDO: Maybe.

    Hemsky before concussion: 33gp, 10-25-35 1.06

    Hemsky after concussion: 39gp, 13-18-31 .795

    That concussion did have an impact.

  5. Lowetide says:

    Coach: I know those numbers, but we just disagree about who is driving the results. Your numbers tell you it's Penner and my brain tells me it isn't.

    I know this is a math-related blog, but lordy it's tough to see those results and not give "luck" a big assist.

    And you know what, it's not even "luck" it's more like "lack of alternatives."

    If the Oilers had kept Glencross and put him on the 1line, would the results have been radically different?

    I think that lines numbers w/Penner make the point: get an actual player from the Ryan Smyth/Wayne Cashman tree and that line blossoms.

  6. DaHoosman says:

    Mr. Lowetide, seems like you've predicted substentially higher for the last two years? Every year we, as Oiler fans, are predicting a break out season from Hemmer, but, alas, it doesn't happen. I won't argue complicated statistics I don't fully understand, but what I know about Hemmer is that historically the expectations have, and always will, exceed actual production. With all do respect, if you're going to call this "reasonable" expectations, rather than "most opptonisitic", you're better off with

    75GP 23G 44A for a grand total of 67 points.

    History does not suggest otherwise.

    Signed,

    Reality Czech from someone else's account.

  7. Lowetide says:

    DaHoosman: I think it's very reasonable to expect Hemsky to cover this bet, as I did a year ago. Hemsky is responsible for an enormous number of scoring chances but needs a Johnny Cash.

    Here's hoping O'Sullivan, Penner or Cogliano grab the opportunity.

  8. PDO says:

    LT:

    The concussion absolutely had an impact, but that's still a big jump from the 1.08 he was at. Not saying he can't do that, but that's a high bar.

    And we have to start wondering if concussions are going to derail the career completely.

  9. DaHoosman says:

    Mr. Lowetide, Reality Czech says:

    I would love nothing more than for one of those players to step up and be able to provide the required support, but unfortunately, Johnny Cash is dead and Hemsky doesn't put up 90 point seasons. I would love nothing more, but that is simply not the case and Tambo hasn't done anything this offseason to help out. Unless you think Khabby was signed for his offense?

  10. DaHoosman says:

    As a semi-regular commenter on this blog, I'd like to state that my account has been used to publish the comments of another, named, Reality Czech, whom I don't particulary agree with.

    However, this medium has been used for intelligent discourse and I don't think his comments are against the spirit of the blog.

    Please target your vitriol to Reality Czach.

  11. Vic Ferrari says:

    Hemsky's game has grown a tonne over the past three years IMO. It may not show up in the counting numbers, but off the top of your head Lain, how many times last year can you remember 83 ending a shift by trying to beat someone at the blue line?

    And that play is the no brainer for the selfish player, because nobody in radiocallerland will remember it if it goes wrong, and it's other folks who get the minus on the scorecard, or even have to start the next shift or two in bad circumstance. So, to me anyways, it's a testament to character. He won't get props for chipping it in at the end of a shift from a single HFboarder all year … but he'll get love if he consistently makes selfish decisions that work now and again.

    This game, hockey, it reveals more about character than most people should feel comforable with. Yet baseball gets all the poets. Go figure.

    To my mind, he still has a bit of kid in him, though. If he has a game where the bounces go his way and his shots get through legs and his one-on-one goes at the blue lines work … well the next game he'll push he boat out too far and the scoring chance scales will tilt the wrong way. Far less so than when he was younger, but still. He's not at the extremes that Cogliano and Gagner are at in this regard, but he's a mile away from being Forsberg too.

    I'm sure Dennis' scoring chance numbers would show that, btw, if you went rhough the sked and honestly picked games where Hemsky looked invincible … then checked Dennis' numbers for the next one, I'm sure you'd see that. Human nature, methinks.

  12. Lowetide says:

    PDO: Hemsky's career highs are 23 goals and 58 assists. My projection calls for him to exceed those numbers, but not by a wonky amount.

    When Ales Hemsky was 22 years old he finishd in the top ten in the entire league in assists. The team has gotten worse since then, but he hasn't. If they find a line that works, use him more on the PP and he avoids injury I think the number is reasonable.

  13. Bruce says:

    Hemsky is not a cerebral player like Sam Gagner, he's all reflex and reaction ala Guy Lafleur.

    LT: Last night when I wrote:

    //Just leave Ales out there on the right side and let him do his thing. It's his natural position, leave him the fuck alone.//

    … I swear I almost invoked the name of Guy Lafleur. The Habs wasted some of the Flower's early career trying to make a centre out of him, but once they turned him loose on the starboard side and said "just play" he was terrific.

    He is a surreal, sublime talent with an incredible ability to create beautiful goals.

    True dat. Where he falls short IMO is in his ability to create garbage goals. He's not one to just throw the puck into the goalie's feet or the traffic in front, he'll hold and hold the puck in search of the perfect play. Which can be beautiful … when it works. It's just not always the highest percentage play.

  14. Black Dog says:

    Damn, I love Ales Hemsky.

    On top of everything he's a tough bastard too. And now he'll shoot the puck a little.

    Last season I think he really did take a step forward. Preconcussion at least by my eye there were stretches of games where he was the best player on the ice, dangerous almost every shift, moving the puck in the right direction almost all of the time.

    I think he is a guy that Quinn will help. I think he will make sure that he is comfortable and with good health and a quality LW he's going to have a good year.

  15. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    LT and BD.

    As others have mentioned, this is post-concussion.

    It would be interesting to look at the results players get after they miss a ten game game stretch or more with a concussion.

    I'm guessing there is oil there if someone has the ability and patience to drill for it.

  16. Black Dog says:

    Vic – read your response in the other thread and I don't want to threadjack but I did want to respond. You're right on about the Heatley deal, of course, but other than that Tambellini has done nothing. No plan B. Could mean a few things of course. He may have a plan B that we don't know about to bring in a sniper. He may still be looking at bringing in some guys to add size/grit etc. Or he may not be doing anything. Based on their contract situation and the fact that he hasn't even added a single body or, for that matter, moved out any contracts as he did with Brodziak, I'm thinking this may be what he's going with.

    Which leads me to believe no playoffs again. Of course even if they had gotten Heatley it would have been touch and go, imo.

  17. pboy says:

    True dat. Where he falls short IMO is in his ability to create garbage goals. He's not one to just throw the puck into the goalie's feet or the traffic in front, he'll hold and hold the puck in search of the perfect play. Which can be beautiful … when it works. It's just not always the highest percentage play.

    And that's the best and worst part of Hemmer's game summed up quite nicely. He does like to over handle the puck at times and leave himself open to some brutal hits. If he can stay healthy, he can meet and exceed LT's projection (with a little help from a skilled LW, of course) but I don't know how he will stay off the IR unless he makes some changes to his game and protects himself a little better. It's a circular argument at best.

  18. B.C.B. says:

    Recently, I have attempted to make a case for Robert Lang as the Oilers, third line Center
    (http://bringingbacktheglory.blogspot.com/
    2009/08/myth-of-third-line-center.html)
    But the more I think about it, I think Lang would be a good center for Hemsky:
    - he can play tough opposition (QualComp 0.06, top on Montreal last year)
    - he is a scoring center (shooting % of 17.8)
    - fairly smart (he played in different systems with different roles and has been successful, hence a degree of adaptability)
    - is offensively productive (1.85 Pts/60)
    - is a two way center (his GFON/60 is higher then his GAON/60).

    At 2-2.5 million (one year contract), Lang provides both depth at Center and should be a good fit with Hemsky (at least providing Quinn with option of who to play Hemsky with).

  19. B.C.B. says:

    I really didn't mention my main point:

    Most people thinks the problem with Hemsky is a lack of a LW. Some folks think we should look at Hemsky for his lack of production. Others blame the lack of an elite offensive name (i.e. Lecavlier, Heatly, Hossa, etc …)
    Maybe we should not look at everyone who he plays with, but, more importantly, the limited players on the Oilers that can play with him. Adding depth at both LW and C, especially players that can play the style of game Hemsky craves may help him more then just the right fit on the port side.

  20. Coach pb9617 says:

    Coach: I know those numbers, but we just disagree about who is driving the results. Your numbers tell you it's Penner and my brain tells me it isn't.

    False. I've never said that. Penner is the conduit. Penner doesn't drive the bus on that line – he is the bus.

    What in the bloody hell do people want? Horpensky is a lights out line. Period.

  21. Coach pb9617 says:

    I think that lines numbers w/Penner make the point: get an actual player from the Ryan Smyth/Wayne Cashman tree and that line blossoms.

    You know how the line produces with Penner and you still say this. It's like you have a giant black mark in your field of vision.

    Bizarre.

  22. Lowetide says:

    Coach: You're talking like Penner is the only man in the world who can help the line. I don't believe it. I think the Oilers will be fine with Penner on the 1line, but may also flourish with O'Sullivan or Cogliano. There are other men out there who could help more. Where would this line be if Ryan Smyth hadn't been traded?

    Al Sims, Dallas Smith and others had exceptional seasons playing with Orr. Now I'm not comparing Hemsky to Orr, but in 71-72 Rick Smuth was +53 in 61 games with Orr and then (after being dealt to the Seals) went -17 in 17 games.

    And Rick Smith was a pretty good player.

  23. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Lowetide said…
    Coach: You're talking like Penner is the only man in the world who can help the line. I don't believe it. I think the Oilers will be fine with Penner on the 1line, but may also flourish with O'Sullivan or Cogliano. There are other men out there who could help more. Where would this line be if Ryan Smyth hadn't been traded?

    Al Sims, Dallas Smith and others had exceptional seasons playing with Orr. Now I'm not comparing Hemsky to Orr, but in 71-72 Rick Smuth was +53 in 61 games with Orr and then (after being dealt to the Seals) went -17 in 17 games.

    And Rick Smith was a pretty good player.

    And yet you won't apply that same logic to Horcoff?

  24. Big Dan says:

    Loweside, I've said it before about POS playing center. Look at O'Sullivan's profile on wikipedia, hockeydb.com, legendsofhockey.net.

    He was a center his whole life except for the last couple of years. And he's a shooter= perfect for Hemsky.

    He and Penner can play with Hemsky on the first line. Plus if POS does in fact struggle at faceoffs, remember Penner played C in college too. Get his fat butt hogging the faceoff circle.

    I really like your idea of Horcoff doing all the dirty work with Pisani (killing penalties, shutting down opponent's top line, joining the 2nd power play unit).

    I also think the Kid Line will get the soft minutes and bounce back this year. Gagner and Cogliano are in their third year, and that typically is when most NHLers start to make their mark. Especially when their coach lets them do their thing without over-coaching.

    As for Nilsson, so many Oiler fans want to send him to the farm. He is almost as creative and speedy as Hemsky (but not nearly as consistent or tough, which is why he's a tweener).

    Why do so many fans think Nilsson is not a "Quinn-type player"?

    Let's remember Quinn had a lot of success in Toronto with soft guys like Jonas Hoglund, Mike Johnson, Igor Korolev, Sergei Berezin, and Nikolai Borschevsky. Those guys were nothing after leaving TO but he found a way to get some use out of them.

    So there's no need to gnash teeth about Pouliot being the third line center.

    O'Sullivan can play center. They're not about to pay Nilsson $2mil to play in Springfield or give him away.

    So Pouliot will battle Brule, Potulny, and Stone for the 4th line spot this year.

    And the Oilers will make the playoffs despite the inertia that is making their fans antsy.

    Sometimes, the best moves are the ones not made. I am glad Tambellini is not panicking.

    He has too many contracts so he'll just wait them out.

    And he had a lot of young guys have off-years. It's a bumpy ride as they develop. I'm a lot more confident now that they will improve now that Quinn & Renney are here.

  25. Bruce says:

    Al Sims, Dallas Smith and others had exceptional seasons playing with Orr. Now I'm not comparing Hemsky to Orr, but in 71-72 Rick Smuth was +53 in 61 games with Orr and then (after being dealt to the Seals) went -17 in 17 games.

    Not sure +/- is the stat to be invoking in Hermsky's defence, LT.

    Career stats (inc. playoffs):

    Shawn Horcoff: 595 GP, +12
    Dustin Penner: 295 GP, +10
    Ales Hemsky: 451 GP, -30

  26. Lowetide says:

    Bruce: That wasn't really the point. I'm not arguing plus minus, I'm arguing value on a line. I'm not saying Penner is useless but it's also true he's not driving the bus.

    Or as Coach says, the bus.

  27. Bill Needle says:

    Yes, Hemsky is the best the Oilers have, but the only way he gets 90+ points next season is if he gets traded… to Fantasy Island and Mr. Roarke becomes his centre.

  28. DeeDee says:

    My problem with Penner is that he plays a boring style of game. I don’t care what the stats guys say, he just doesn’t generate anything in terms of excitement, or effort, or physicality, or presence.

    Big guy, all the skills in the world, and he plays like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

    I kind of feel sorry for him. Lowe needed some kind of signing, any kind of signing after trading away Smyth, and he went out and found this kid and inked him to a ridiculous deal that he will never be able to live up to.

    I hope he has a career season this year and proves everyone wrong, I really do. But nothing I’ve seen the last two years gives me much hope of that happening.

    Regarding Hemsky, he is an amazing talent that requires a specific supporting cast to make him effective. If you are not going to give him the proper support then it doesn’t make sense to keep the guy.

    Next year’s version of the Oilers is going to be a team with a great defense, but no offense. And we are one injury away from a goaltending disaster too…

  29. danny says:

    I'll say the same thing this year as I said in the 08 version.

    If Tambellini doesnt pick up a vet center, then Horc/Hemmer are going to be doing a lot of heavy lifting.

    Expect offensive numbers of Horcoff to stay in the mineshaft.

    Horcoff will get about 55pts.

    Hemmer slightly south of 80.

    If its a PvP game that Quinn will run, then our hopes lie completely with Gagner/Cogs/Osullivan, the younger guys, taking a big step forward.

  30. Bruce says:

    I'm not arguing plus minus, I'm arguing value on a line.

    LT: I know what you're saying, and I don't even necessarily disagree with you.

    But the numbers do. Not only is Hemsky the only one of the three who doesn't have a record as an outscorer over his career, here's how the trio ranked in 2008-09:

    +/-
    Horcoff +7
    Penner +7
    Hemsky +1

    5v5 +/-
    Penner +13
    Horcoff +9
    Hemsky +4

    5v5 shots differential
    Penner +37
    Horcoff +22
    Hemsky +14

    5v5 GF ON/60
    Penner 2.96
    Horcoff 2.85
    Hemsky 2.69

    5v5 GA ON/60
    Penner 2.10
    Horcoff 2.35
    Hemsky 2.44

    5v5 QualComp
    Horcoff +0.04
    Penner -0.00
    Hemsky -0.00

    5v5 QualTeam
    Hemsky +0.26
    Horcoff +0.18
    Penner +0.11

    Nothing there to suggest Hemsky is the one driving the bus, is there? I guess you can hang your hat on this:

    5v5 P/60
    Hemsky 2.08
    Penner 1.71
    Horcoff 1.59

    … and of course the concussion has to be factored in, as you point out. Let's just hope concussions aren't a factor going forward. What Ales needs more than anything, is 80+ GP.

  31. DanMan says:

    It's funny how many fans defer to the advanced stats and use them to support their arguments, until Dustin Penner is portrayed in a positive light.

  32. DanMan says:

    Great thread, thanks guys

  33. hunter1909 says:

    Leave the frogs alone.

  34. godot10 says:

    Hemsky drives the bus.
    Penner is a catalyst that makes the bus driver drive faster.

    Catalysts don't work if there is nothing to catalyze.

    I think Quinn might be more important for Hemsky to take the next step than getting another new fangled left wing to try.

    Visnovsky being back will help. Hemsky is helped by an elite defensman who can get him the puck with speed in the right spot more than any left wing will help.

    Penner does not initiate contact enough. But he is more than willing to go to the hard places and take punishment to make a play. People have to consider both sides of the playing tough coin. If you want Penner to be a "monster", get him the puck below the face off dots.

    Getzlaf and Perry always played deep, which was why Penner looked so much better playing with them. You can see Penner's down low play in the Oilers power play stats.

  35. Lowetide says:

    Bruce: There is certainly chaos in his game, but Hemsky is the straw that stirs the drink on that line. Those are interesting stats, I'd be interested in seeing what kind of opponent Penner saw away from that line.

    Either way, Penner is still in the mix for LW on the top line and has been the most effetive L for the line since Smyth left.

    That's certainly saying something.

  36. Bruce says:

    There is certainly chaos in his game, but Hemsky is the straw that stirs the drink on that line.

    LT: As I said in my convoluted way in the last comment, I don't disagree with you. I also don't disagree :) with Godot's description of Penner as catalyst.

    It's funny how many fans defer to the advanced stats and use them to support their arguments, until Dustin Penner is portrayed in a positive light.

    DanMan: Actually I suspect very few fans defer to advanced stats. I don't even consider these stats that advanced, I would call them fundamental as they are directly based on team results when a given player or combination is on the ice. The above were from BehindTheNet.ca, the below are from TimeOnIce.com:

    Hemsky with Penner: 22 GF, 10 GA
    Hemsky without Penner: 21 GF, 27 GA
    Penner without Hemsky: 22 GF, 19 GA

    Using yet a third valuable resource, HockeyAnalysis.com, Hemsky spent 354 of his 1028 even-strength minutes with Penner. That was barely a third of Hemsky's ice time, which resulted in over half of his plusses and just over a quarter of his minusses. Don't you think that's significant?

    Penner's stats also improve significantly, though not quite so dramatically, when he is paired with Hemsky. They make each other better.

    Lest we forget a key man in the mix is Horcoff. Hemsky and Penner together were +21/-5 when playing with Horcoff, and +1/-5 when their centre was somebody else. As a line, however, Horpensky was damned effective, at least they were until MacT broke them up for No Apparent Reason.

  37. Lowetide says:

    Bruce: They make each other better compared to the other men available. We're going to argue this in circles, so let me end it by saying two things:

    1. I like Penner.
    2. I believe someone else might be better.

  38. uni says:

    Big guy, all the skills in the world, and he plays like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

    That seals it, from now on I'm calling Penner Gozer the Gozerian.

    Also the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man can do a helluva lot more damage than you suspect…just ask Dr. Stanz.

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