Decision 2012

Ales Hemsky is one week away (or so) from returning to the Oilers. One of the most important decisions in this season (and the last few years) is what to do with 83. He’s a world class entertainer, he can do things others cannot, he helps offensively on a team that (even in the current heady days) badly needs it.

Signing Hemsky would give the Oilers exceptional depth on the skill lines for years to come. Hemsky would join Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle who are the young cluster, with Magnus Paajarvi, Sam Gagner and others also possible long term options.

Hemsky reminds me of Guy Lafleur in style. The Habs couldn’t figure him out until they paired him with Jacques Lemaire (who was an excellent 2-way center in his prime) and Lafleur’s line really took off when another “attention to detail” forward (Steve Shutt) was added to the group.

Lafleur was more “rover” than right winger, and Lemaire-Shutt learned to fill gaps based on Lafleur’s ad libs. I’ve often thought that Hemsky-Horcoff was an ideal duo, and Horcoff-Smyth-Hemsky may eventually form the “veterans” group among the kids up front for the Oilers.

Before all that, Steve Tambellini must decide if Hemsky is worth a long term contract. It isn’t an easy decision. Hemsky is hurt often, appears to have some chronic shoulder problems and as Tyler Dellow detailed recently may be a PP tease.

I’d sign him and not look back. Ales Hemsky is an injury risk, but he’s also able to contribute mightily to offense, and is young enough to hang around to see this thing through. The Oilers might have developing offense behind the kid line; Paajarvi, Hartikainen, Pitlick, Hamilton and others could jump in and score 25 a year given the opportunity to mature and the right linemates.

Someday, some of these kids might be what Ales Hemsky is right now. I’d sign him. Would you?

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