REMAINS OF THE DAY

An NHL General Manager and his staff have to make literally hundreds of decisions on players in a calendar year. 50-man lists, the entry draft, offering contracts to European kids heading home, sending down players who have to clear waivers, there’s a lot of things that go into it.

In the last two transactions, I think Craig MacTavish has been impressive. First, he brought back Linus Omark for another season–one in which the club either gets an inexpensive skill option, a very skilled farmhand, or set free a guy who badly wanted the opportunity to play in the NHL. I don’t think there’s much downside there, and it certainly beats another year of frustration from the player side. Today’s PC is another quality decision–which is different than a popular or expected decision–and gives the team an opportunity to enter the 2013-14 season with the most skill available to them.

Hemsky may not get the pp minutes of past seasons, and he may have more defensive zone starts than most players of his offensive calibre endure in a season. He may also have linemates whose ability is shy of what 83 is used to, and all of that may result in a boxcar downturn. As long as Eberle and Yakupov are taking advantage of their push, then no one can complain. Hemsky’s role will be using his skill in all three zones–getting the puck out, quick transition, pressuring the defense in the opposition end. Anyone who has had to watch the 3line recently knows simple things like getting the puck out of the zone under control, making a skill pass to allow a controlled takeout, wisely using the boards to release and get those opposition defenders giving up real estate, are all missing from the 3 and 4line bag of goodies.

Hemsky’s skills are superior to any third liner we’ve seen here in at least one generation. The odds of his spending extended time in the top 6F are great, but even if he doesn’t spend a minute in that group he’s a brilliant choice for helping the Oilers do a very important thing: improve possession on the 3rd line.

Well done MacT.

  • MacT: “I found, at the end of the day with Ales, that I had a greater appreciation of him and his skill set than most people had that I talked to. I’ve seen him at his best and that’s why I have a great appreciation of what he does.”

I always hoped Hemsky would be around for at least one more trip into the second season, today’s news makes it possible. I’m still not sure where they find that 3L to go with Gordon-Hemsky (maybe it’s Joensuu) but that answer and others are within hailing distance. Good health from Hemsky gives this team more bullets and more chances to control possession.

There’s no bad news here. None. It’s a good day.

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36 Responses to "REMAINS OF THE DAY"

  1. bookje says:

    I agree – good decisions all around!

  2. delooper says:

    The Oilers are starting to have things remarkably similar to “good team problems”. This is so novel!

  3. blackdog says:

    Hear hear.

    For years the team had nobody but Ales Hemsky. Now the big concern is ‘he doesn’t fit as a third liner’.

    I’m not sold that he is the third best RW on this team. Healthy he may be the best one until Yakupov goes mental but if your depth at the position is that good, then you’ve got a team that’s looking pretty good. Finally.

  4. bookje says:

    So when does Tom Gilbert arrive?

  5. LostBoy says:

    “I’m still not sure where they find that 3L to go with Gordon-Hemsky”

    Omark. Find someone to take Nick Schultz for a pick. Use the cap space to sign Brunner . Three scoring lines.

    Play Gordon with Smyth and Jones as line 3b depending on opponent and circumstances.

    (These are not serious suggestions. But only because they have approximately 0% chance of happening. That, and while Brunner is a born and bred C, he’s pretty much moved to wing and it’s not too likely he could play C in the NHL even on a soft minutes line. But can you imagine the luxury of turning those guys loose after a failed PP? Teams don’t ice three scoring lines because they generally can’t assemble the credible talent to do it, not because it takes “a mix of players” in the top 9. The Oilers, because of Omark on minimum wage and two studs still on entry level, could if they wanted. But they won’t.)

  6. Lowetide says:

    blackdog:
    Hear hear.

    For years the team had nobody but Ales Hemsky. Now the big concern is ‘he doesn’t fit as a third liner’.

    I’m not sold that he is the third best RW on this team. Healthy he may be the best one until Yakupov goes mental but if your depth at the position is that good, then you’ve got a team that’s looking pretty good. Finally.

    Agreed. A fair and even contest for top line time could easily, maybe likely, land 83 on top of that group.

  7. tcho says:

    Hear, hear!

    In my heart, I hope Hemsky blows the doors off those kidlets, and won’t be denied for first offensive options. (Make them appreciate/work for it too, which isn’t such a bad thing)

  8. Woodguy says:

    He may also have linemates whose ability is shy of what 83 is used to, and all of that may result in a boxcar downturn.

    Well, that all depends on your opinion of Horcoff.

    Maybe Gordon has a bit of offense, but hasn’t been in the position to use it?

    If Horcoff didn’t play with Hemsky would he have ever scored 73pts in 79gms in 05/06 or 50 in 53 in 07/08?

    Probably not.

    Maybe Hemsky can put Gordon in a position to get more points, even if they get the shitty end of the stick on Offense Zone Faceoffs and quality competition.

    Gordon’ 2 most common forward line mates for the last 3 seasons:

    12/13
    David Moss
    Rob Kilnkhammer

    11/12
    Lauri Korpikoski (what I was hoping Harski would turn into, now what I’m hoping Joensuu is. Finns are awesome)
    Taylor Pyatt

    10/11
    Matt Bradley
    Matt Hendricks

    None of those guys are Hemsky.

    Maybe Gordon has a wicked one timer, but never played with a guy who would feather eggs in on his stick in good position?

    Mind you, its not like Joensuu is Penner either.

    Penner – Gordon – Hemsky would be a 3rd line that would hold the opposition’s best close to a standstill for the year and out score a few games.

    That’s how you win. Hold their best back and hope your best does better.

    The Oiler’s best will be better than most for the first time in a long, long time.

  9. Andropod says:

    Why not Gordon/Omark/Hemsky?

  10. Melman says:

    Big fan of Yak City, but the odds are ?% that he hits a sophomore slump at some point during his second season (and his first 82 gamer) . Having Hemmer as a cushion is huge, let alone having him pushing for primo playing time during a contract/olympic year.

    now if only Mac T had traded Omark and Larson for Weber!

  11. steveb12344 says:

    LostBoy: “I’m still not sure where they find that 3L to go with Gordon-Hemsky”Omark. Find someone to take Nick Schultz for a pick. Use the cap space to sign Brunner . Three scoring lines.Play Gordon with Smyth and Jones as line 3b depending on opponent and circumstances.(These are not serious suggestions. But only because they have approximately 0% chance of happening. That, and while Brunner is a born and bred C, he’s pretty much moved to wing and it’s not too likely he could play C in the NHL even on a soft minutes line. But can you imagine the luxury of turning those guys loose after a failed PP? Teams don’t ice three scoring lines because they generally can’t assemble the credible talent to do it, not because it takes “a mix of players” in the top 9. The Oilers, because of Omark on minimum wage and two studs still on entry level, could if they wanted. But they won’t.)

    I don’t think 3 scoring lines will be a problem. Back in the summer, Eakins made a comment along the lines of having a playbook, similar to a football coach. If that is the case than I think we can expect to see the osterizer in full effect, which likely means we will see 5-6 scoring lines with a few defensive formations as well for the PK and other heavy-lifting moments.

    It may take a bit for the players to figure out his systems, and to build chemistry with nearly everyone else, but it should be interesting to watch and to see everyone trying to make sense of it. I think it’s going to be a fun ride, and like most of the rest of you. I just can’t wait to get it going.

  12. Suntory Hanzo says:

    So did MacT essentially sound the “Everything’s Okay Alarm” a al Homer Simpson?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2WmZDP3kIY

  13. gcw_rocks says:

    A completely unnecessary news conference made necessary by the stupidity of his early press conference about Horcoff and Hemsky. How sad is it as Oiler fans that we now celebrate this kind of event.

  14. Woodguy says:

    gcw_rocks:
    A completely unnecessary news conference made necessary by the stupidity of his early press conference about Horcoff and Hemsky.How sad is it as Oiler fans that we now celebrate this kind of event.

    You’re completely missing the point.

    MacT told everyone there is a new Sheriff in Town and that if you’re opinion was that the Oilers were better off without Hemsky, your opinion is now irrelevant.

    See: most the asses that the chairs were holding up in the PC room and a good portion of the fanbase.

    The line LT highlighted says it all:

    “I found, at the end of the day with Ales, that I had a greater appreciation of him and his skill set than most people had that I talked to. I’ve seen him at his best and that’s why I have a great appreciation of what he does.”

    He tried to trade Hemsky for a better player, but could not, and kept the player.

    Find good players, keep good players.

  15. gcw_rocks says:

    Woodguy,

    I don’t think I am missing the point. Do you really think that after his press conference saying Hemsky had to go that he had any leverage at all in talking to other GMs? He actually took a weak bargaining position (an oft injured player on a loser hockey team) and managed to make it worse. He created pressure to trade the player when it wasn’t necessary to do that.

    Then when, surprise surprise, no one wanted to pay “fair value”, he is forced to hold a news conference saying, “whoops, all fine here.” What else could he say? Well, I tried to trade the bum, but I can’t and so we are stuck with him. This was MacT putting lipstick on a pig of his own making. If he hadn’t held that news conference before, today would just be another slow news day and the only question anyone would be asking about Hemsky would be, “how’s his health?”

  16. jfry says:

    It would be nice to see hemsky relish the shitty zone start treatment and craft his game into a more dominant defensive player. Not to compare him to fedoras or yzerman, but there was a period where there tenacity changed and the focus was broader and most likely better for their teams.

    Talking about hemsky as a selke nominee would be everything this team needs

  17. Genjutsu says:

    Woodguy,

    This. It’s like we all just got out of prison.

    Sweet merciful sunshine.

  18. maudite says:

    After years of watching the circus theow any veteran player under the bus, that makes over 2 mil per season, I am glad he called this press conference to calm the waters. Smart move. No “first off the ice” type shite to chum the waters. The inbred media circus in town needs to be reigned in. This team needs a better image in player media management. I’m hoping this is a sign that Mact recognizes that and is working on changing that.

  19. wheatnoil says:

    gcw_rocks:
    Woodguy,

    I don’t think I am missing the point.Do you really think that after his press conference saying Hemsky had to go that he had any leverage at all in talking to other GMs?He actually took a weak bargaining position (an oft injured player on a loser hockey team) and managed to make it worse. He created pressure to trade the player when it wasn’t necessary to do that.

    Then when, surprise surprise, no one wanted to pay “fair value”, he is forced to hold a news conference saying, “whoops, all fine here.”What else could he say?Well, I tried to trade the bum, but I can’t and so we are stuck with him.This was MacT putting lipstick on a pig of his own making.If he hadn’t held that news conference before, today would just be another slow news day and the only question anyone would be asking about Hemsky would be, “how’s his health?”

    I’m not sure I buy the argument that MacT decreased the value of Hemsky by announcing he was on the market. That only is true if a) it would otherwise be a secret he was on the market and b) if he had no choice but to get rid of him. Neither ‘a’ nor ‘b’ is true.

    Hemsky has been a trade rumour for years. I find it hard to imagine that any NHL GM didn’t know that Hemsky was on the trade block. What MacT did was basically say, “Hemsky is on the auction block. He’ll go the highest bidder.”

    This COULD lead to a problem. (See Luongo, Roberto) However, what MacT did was basically put his product on ebay and have a minimum selling price, below which he would not sell. MacT talked to the media about a lot, but what he did NOT say in public was the only thing that mattered. He kept his minimum selling price a secret.

    MacT was clear in his press conference that Hemsky would stay if he did not receive his minimum selling price (he did say he wasn’t going to give assets away for free). I think MacT would only have decreased his bargaining power if he started a public auction with no minimum selling price and a deadline to sell (see Luongo, Roberto). MacT didn’t back himself in a corner. He put his toy on ebay, didn’t like the offers and took it down… but if a GM comes calling after an injury at the trade deadline… maybe he meets his minimum selling price then.

  20. Lois Lowe says:

    wheatnoil,

    I think you’re seeing it right. Most of the critics either don’t understand how negotiation actually works or are unnecessarily trying to find fault in the new GMs actions.

  21. DeadmanWaking says:

    Fedoras, Yzarmulke, and Shanbrero. That’s how you win the cup.

    gcw_rocks

    What is this thing in the male psyche so enamored of playing hard to get? Are we that desperate to turn the tables after a bad run in our teenage/early adulthood years? At a certain point, a person’s reputation is set. By the time everyone knows the score, copping a huge attitude really doesn’t make that much difference. “You know that hot red-head with the killer legs in English 201? Well, she’s not all that, let me tell you. I saw her make positive eye contact with two different guys in the same semester.” You know what, I doubt it ever worked like that in the first place.

  22. Woodguy says:

    gcw_rocks:
    Woodguy,

    I don’t think I am missing the point.Do you really think that after his press conference saying Hemsky had to go that he had any leverage at all in talking to other GMs?He actually took a weak bargaining position (an oft injured player on a loser hockey team) and managed to make it worse. He created pressure to trade the player when it wasn’t necessary to do that.

    Then when, surprise surprise, no one wanted to pay “fair value”, he is forced to hold a news conference saying, “whoops, all fine here.”What else could he say?Well, I tried to trade the bum, but I can’t and so we are stuck with him.This was MacT putting lipstick on a pig of his own making.If he hadn’t held that news conference before, today would just be another slow news day and the only question anyone would be asking about Hemsky would be, “how’s his health?”

    Three things.

    1) MacT talked about moving 10 and 83 on Spector’s show, not a PC

    2) You are right that his earlier words make this PC necessary, but this type of shit has been around 83 for eons and the Sheriff just said “cut that shit out”, even though he was the main cog in ramping it up from interview.

    3) I doubt a word MacT said swayed the value of 83 at all. Either other GMs liked him or didn’t, and it turns out none like him as much as MacT, which is ok.

  23. Rebilled says:

    maudite,

    Player Media Management are three words that have never been strung together by Oiler Management. Here’s hoping for MacT….who has become a learned man far from Pennerish times.

    I told my girlfriend they’re keeping Hemsky. She replied,

    ‘Why didn’t they have a fucking press conference at the beginning of the year saying Jones was on the market? Yeah, he tries and everything but he’s not very good. Get rid of him!’

    If only MacT had a time machine.

  24. 719 says:

    The cap going down this year made it difficult to trade Hemmer. I could see Hemmer being traded if a team has a season ending injury that hits one of the top 4 wingers. With the salary cap going down, some teams just do not have the depth on the 3rd lines that they would in the past. An injury in their top 4 could force them to make a trade for Hemmer, putting the injured forward on LTIR would negate any cap worries of bringing Hemmer in.

    I hope I am wrong, I want him to continue to play in Edmonton. An amazing talent, who played through injury and Regher.

  25. Woodguy says:

    As per Andy Strickland:

    Andy Strickland ‏@andystrickland 1h:

    Doug Armstrong hints #stlblues will likely add a Dman on a pro tryout in camp if Alex Pietrangelo remains unsigned.

    Andy Strickland ‏@andystrickland 1h

    Main reason is to have proper D-man numbers to run camp practices and need another veteran to meet pre-season roster requirements

    As per Bob McKenzie:


    Bob McKenzie ‏@TSNBobMcKenzie 45m

    “@andystrickland: Doug Armstrong hints STL will likely add D on PTO if Alex Pietrangelo remains unsigned.”/Speculation is it’s Ryan Whitney.

  26. "Steve Smith" says:

    I think the press conference was about MacT’s empathy, more than anything else. Who knows better than him the value of a public declaration from the boss that you’re not going anywhere?

  27. delooper says:

    “Steve Smith”:
    I think the press conference was about MacT’s empathy, more than anything else.Who knows better than him the value of a public declaration from the boss that you’re not going anywhere?

    There were moments that it had to sting a little for Hemsky. When MacTavish admitted he tried to trade Hemsky but couldn’t get fair value…. that had to hurt. But I guess MacTavish has had far worse public humiliation so he’s probably hardened to that.

  28. Dead Cat Bounce says:

    Brian Burke looking to take over the Flames:

    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=431209

    Be very afraid.

  29. RexLibris says:

    Rumour out of Calgary is Brian Burke is interviewing for a job as President of Hockey Operations.

    Could it be? Does Christmas come this early in Edmonton?

    Picturing Feaster and Burke doing a press conference together…they’d have to timeshare the microphone.

  30. Lois Lowe says:

    Woodguy,

    As per my Twitter post; Whitney is not a poor man’s Pietrangelo, he is a destitute man’s Tom Gilbert.

  31. Hammers says:

    Obviously McT is going to be a GM that says what he thinks , grants interviews to the media but does exactly what he wants . Similar to who he was as a coach , namely outspoken and honest. Per McCurdy he has cleared 42% of last years 50 players and done it in 4 months plus added a group, that player for player has made this team better . Also he basically said he isn’t done . As for Hemmer I will go back to something I said a month ago .Gordon / Hemsky/ Perron could make a 3rd line that can play against most teams 1st & 2nd lines .. Could any of Smyth , Joensuu or Omark get points with Gags & Yak or RNH & Ebs .

  32. Dead Cat Bounce says:

    RexLibris:
    Rumour out of Calgary is Brian Burke is interviewing for a job as President of Hockey Operations.

    Could it be? Does Christmas come this early in Edmonton?

    Picturing Feaster and Burke doing a press conference together…they’d have to timeshare the microphone.

    Burke is smarter than Lowe, MacT and Buchberger (minus points) put together.

  33. bill needle says:

    What are the chances this press conference was just a ploy to create more footage for Oil Change?

  34. Woodguy says:

    Lois Lowe,

    Ha!

    What’s your twitter sn?

  35. gcw_rocks says:

    wheatnoil,

    Let’s she to disagree. I can’t see how you can tag a professional athlete with a losing culture label and expect his value to do anything but go down. Toss in the Luongo affect and you certainly haven’t done yourself any favours.

    Outside of that bit, Willis has a more politically correct assessment of MacT’s motivations over on cult of hockey. Damage control, plain and simple.

  36. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Hammers: Per McCurdy he has cleared 42% of last years 50 players

    Actually, that’s 42% of the 31 players who actually suited up for the Oil last “season”, not of the entire 50-man list. But either way, a substantial slice.

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