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.