As the playoffs march on and Oiler fans are yet again left out in the cold of the postseason, we will continue to look forward as instructed by our fearless leader in Craig MacTavish. Ok, maybe fearless isn’t the right word but he sure puts on a good show that he has some lofty expectations for this upcoming offseason. Changes are coming, that much we’ve been promised. But where and whom will be apart of these changes?
We continue to look at some potential moves that Mac-T could make and after one of our regular readers left a comment about the idea that Ales Hemsky could be moved, it brought up the idea to explore his future in Edmonton. Does he have a future with the Oilers?
ScottieA reminds us that when MacTavish was asked about Hemsky’s future with the club at his year-end press conference, his response or lack there of may have tipped his hand in regards to what’s going to happen with number 83.
Courtesy of the Edmonton Journal here is MacT’s comments about Hemsky:
For guys who’ve been here a long time and have suffered through this (rebuilding process), Ales has been a good Oiler for us. I don’t want to talk about him. There is a human side and the last thing I want to do is talk about a guy’s future without talking to him first.”
I wonder if MacTavish is regretting his chosen words after reading them in print. The part that sticks out to me is “the last thing I want to do is talk about a guy’s future without talking to him first.” It doesn’t sound promising that we’ll have Hemsky on the roster next year.
If MacTavish and his posse were hell bent on having Hemsky remain apart of the future plans with the Oilers he would have come out and said it. Instead he tip-toed around the question and then left much to speculate about including the notion that Hemsky could be dealt.
Should the Oilers trade Ales Hemsky?
Without a doubt, yes and for many reasons.
The first, he’s a $5 million dollar cap hit for next season and that money would go a long way in landing a free-agent like David Clarkson, Brenden Morrow or Viktor Stalberg to name a few. Hemsky is not a role player. He’s a skilled, offensive minded forward who is soft along the boards.
If there was a category for the most shots not taken, Hemsky would win it every year. He has hands of silk and every now and then he dazzles with a highlight reel goal but those have become few and far between in the last few years.
Last year was the first season in the previous three that he stayed relatively healthy, playing in 69 of the 82 regular season games. He scored 10 goals and added 26 assists for 36 points. That’s $500,000 per goal. I’m no accountant, but that’s a poor ROI.
Five years ago Hemsky was considered one of the cornerstone pieces to build this club around after averaging over 65 points per season in a four year span from 2005-09. But those years have passed him by thanks to the three straight, first overall picks the Oilers have had. There are younger leaders emerging who will carry the torch for this once-proud organization and Hemsky doesn’t fit into the plans any longer.
He’s a second-line player at best and even then, when he stays healthy he isn’t the rugged winger that the Oilers need. The team has enough of the skilled forwards who can dangle around defenseman and rip a snap shot to the top corner in the blink of an eye. They will have plenty of flash left without Hemsky and now the Oilers need size and grit in order to be able to play the physical brand of hockey that teams like the San Jose Sharks like to do when they come to Edmonton.
There is the option of buying out Hemsky with one of the two compliance buyouts that clubs are allowed thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement. Shawn Horcoff is one name that has been thrown around a lot as a potential buyout so the Oilers may want to hang on to their second for the time being if they can trade Hemsky.
The return for the 29-year old likely won’t be very high given his offensive struggles and ability to stay healthy over the past four seasons. For the Oilers, this shouldn’t deter them from making the move. A late round draft pick is better than nothing, yet at the same time will allow MacT to re-allocate that money to further allow him to make the wholesale changes he promised. Holding off on a trade because they don’t like the return for Hemsky is not an answer; it would be an excuse and as an Oiler fan I think it’s safe to say we’re tired of those.