In the close-to-40 seasons that the Edmonton Oilers have been in existence, there have been precious few with the ability to delight like Ales Hemsky on his sorties.
Ales Hemsky is a ridiculous hockey player, speed and skill and touch and energy and style and enthusiasm. Elan.
Ales Hemsky’s injury history suggests he will not have a long NHL career playing at the highest levels. He’s like a sports car built for milder climates and smoother blacktop. Maybe he belongs on the Bonneville Salt Flats, but in our town he breaks down a lot.
Among the frustrations endured by Oiler fans since 2006 spring, the cruelty of not having 83 every game night is especially mean spirited of the hockey Gods.
NHL Prediction for 11-12: 57, 17-37-54 (.947)
- You have him playing 10 more games this season than a year ago. Yes, the early word on his health is positive. I’m guessing he’ll play a little more this season.
- I see you’ve finally given in and stopped projecting more than 1/1. If he played with a pair of forwards with talent and in their prime I’d bet on it again. I’ve been strong on Hemsky for a decade, it’s too late to stop now. I suspect everyone remembers 2005-06? That’s the last time this man played on a team devoted to winning hockey games.
- So, who will he play with? In the RE after the season, I said: I’d hope that the Oilers would work hard on finding a legit replacement for Penner on that Gagner-Hemsky line. In-house options include MPS and Hartikainen but my hope is that they hold back the kids a little with a mid-level acquisition with NHL experience and an idea about how to play. MacArthur or Upshall, someone like that. Nothing earth shattering, just pushing back the depth chart so it might be Hall-MacArthur-MPS-Hartikainen-Reddox. They acquired three left wingers this summer. I think the Oilers might use several combinations. My sincere hope is that they pair him with Gagner and try Smyth or Taylor Hall on LW.
- What about Paajarvi? No. Gagner and MP don’t have chem. That may change over time, but the Smyth acquisition gives them options.
- What about playing Hemsky with Horcoff or Belanger at center? I’m sure they’ll all be tried, but if Gagner is your top offensive center then I think Hemsky should be playing with him.
- Then Horcoff and Belanger get the kids? Yeah. Hall-Eberle and Paajarvi-Omark go to Horcoff and Belanger.
- Think it’ll happen? I think there’s a chance, although the temptation will be there to have Horcoff and Smyth (plus Belanger) team up for a tough minutes road line.
- Gagner with Hemsky and Smyth could be a tough minutes line. Let’s hold that thought until we get to Gagner.
- What about Ryan Jones? What about Ryan Jones?
- He could score a lot of goals with Hemsky. The idea isn’t to optimize Ryan Jones, it’s to optimize Ales Hemsky.
- Any wild cards? Well, Hemsky did well with Dustin Penner, so I’d like to see Hartikainen get a chance on a line with 83 during TC.
- Right. Hartikainen is all the rage but Jones is dirt. No, but Hartikainen might be a guy who can play top 9 minutes and chemistry is a funny thing. Maybe they mesh. Also, you want to know where the big Finn can play when injuries hit.
- Anything else? Sure. If the Oilers got NHL average goaltending and Ales Hemsky was healthy all season I think there’s a chance they could see a playoff position at the deadline.
- Neither of those things will happen. I’m not going to bet against Hemsky. There’s a better chance he’ll stay healthy than NK supplying average goaltending.
- Will they trade him? Yes. He’ll go at the deadline unless signed.
- Why? The heart of the cluster is many years younger. It’s the same reason Ryan Smyth won’t hang around unless he’s willing to take a discount. Hall is the heart of this club, not Smyth and not Hemsky.
- Would you trade him? No. I’d keep Hemsky as the “Daniel Alfredsson” of the group. But the Oilers have never really thought that way. The Oiler way dating back to Gretzky was trading them off before they cost too much. Even with his injury history I’d sign Hemsky long term and send Kevin Prendergast a thankyou card. Helluva draft pick, an absolute killer.
- But it ends with Taylor Hall. We’ll see. I think they Oilers will need to be a contender soon or a kid like Hall is going to get frustrated. And if they keep drafting number one overalls, then the expensive one is the player who will go.
- Thanks, Captain Rain Cloud. I’m just saying every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Trade Dustin Penner, get younger. Trade Ales Hemsky, get younger. Sooner or later you have to stand and deliver or someday Taylor Hall will be too far from the center of the cluster.
- Hemsky hung in there and was a good soldier. Remember that when they trade him.