The Edmonton Oilers were awful this past season. You don’t end up in last place in the league by accident – it’s not like you bought skim milk when you meant to purchase 2 percent. Several catastrophic things to need occur in order for this to happen. And, they did.
There aren’t enough numbers in the world that could properly illustrate what an awful campaign 2009-10 was.
- Freshly signed goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin’s back injury (and his subsequent run-in with the law)
- The kids minding the pipes while Khabibulin was down and out
- The AHL defense
- The New Year’s Eve altercation at Osteria de Medici
- Fernando Pisani’s in-and-out battle with ulcerative colitis
- Winless January™… oh, I could go on for an hour, but let’s not.
Ales Hemsky’s season ending shoulder injury was the unofficial signal that Edmonton had excused themselves from any possible chance at the playoffs last season. Yes, you had thirteen thousand other reasons why Team Oilers failed to reach the second season, but once Hemsky wasn’t coming back, it was over. There was no getting around it.
With a healthy Ales Hemsky returning to the lineup this year, the Oilers will regain significant firepower on a team that ranked 26th overall in goals scored in 2009-10. Hemsky averaged a point a game in 22 GP in 09-10 (7G-15A). In 2008-09 (his last full season before injury), then-25 year-old Hemsky finished with 66 points in 72 games (23G and 43A) on an Oilers squad that fizzled late into the run for the postseason. In 2007-08, he had 71 points (20G-51A) in 74 games played. Needless to say, it’s hard to argue with a production of nearly a point per game.
Hemsky will be 27 years of age when the 2010-11 NHL season begins in a few months, and there’s no reason not to believe that his most productive years are still in front of him. With the arrival of forwards Taylor Hall and (likely) Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle, opposing defenders will almost certainly be spending more time in their own end compared to seasons past.
Every now and again, I’ll see a blurb about how Hemsky’s trade value is is as high as it will ever be at this point in history. I’d have to agree with that statement, but why would you want to eschew a player from an organisation (that badly needs offense, mind you) who for the last three years is performing at a near point per game? The guy can skate, he passes the puck quite well, and he’s a wizard with the puck alone.
If Ales Hemsky can stay healthy in 2010-11, there’s a very good chance he’ll lead the team in total offense. That’s a player I want as my 1RW every game, every time.
Also, whenever anyone says “Ales Hemsky”, you should think of this.