Ten minutes with Hemsky: the shoulder, Jagr and that other Czech player the Oilers like

Robin Brownlee
February 25 2010 09:45PM

The best stuff at Rexall Place today wasn't to be had out on the ice where the Edmonton Oilers were practising. Noooooo. Time was better spent huddling with injured Oilers forward Ales Hemsky.

Hemsky, out for the balance of the season after shoulder surgery, spent 10 minutes shooting the breeze with Rob Tychkowski of The Sun, Joanne Ireland of The Journal and yours truly today.

We touched on Hemsky's left shoulder, his take on the possibility of Jaromir Jagr joining the Oilers and about interest in unheralded Roman Cervenka, a teammate of Jagr's on the Czech Olympic team and a player I mentioned here last week.

That wing

Hemsky's been rehabbing his shoulder since having surgery in December. While he expects to be ready for next season, and hopes to resume skating this spring, it's a long, slow process.

"The rehab is going all right. My shoulder is getting better and better and better, so I'm on the right track. We're happy with the bands, the physio  and the normal stuff you should do. We're working with a conditioning trainer every day, so I'm just right on track."

On sitting out while the team languishes in 30th place, Hemsky admits to not being a great spectator.

"It's a tough year for everybody. For me, it's tough because I played just 22 games, I think. I missed the Olympics, too, and the season hasn't gone right. Everything together, it's frustrating, but everything bad, it's good for something. You've got to take the positive. I've got to get ready for next year. That's my goal."

Yes, next year. How's that working for you?

"I don't really want to talk about it. I don't know what will happen here. That's management's business. I'm not even playing right now. My goal is just to get ready for next season. If I’ll be here, I'll be here. If not, I will not. I don't know what the team will do with the players here.

"I have a lot of great friends here. I feel like home here, so I don't have a problem with anything with the city. I've met so many great people here, so I feel good. It's frustrating for everybody when the hockey and everything doesn't go well."

On Jaromir

The Oilers have been eye-balling Jagr from afar since he left the NHL to play in the KHL. There's been talk about the Oilers trying to find a way to land the 38-year-old future Hall-of-Famer next season.

That talk has heated up somewhat with Jagr's performance for the Czech team in Vancouver, where the Oilers had more than a few sets of eyes tracking his every move.

On Jagr returning to North America, Hemsky said: "I hope he will because he can still play. He’s still a great hockey player. When I talked to him before he was interested in playing.

"I don’t know how he feels now after the tournament. I think after things settle down a bit he will want to come back for one or two years. He can still play on the small rink. He’s strong."

With the Oilers entering rebuild mode and having salary cap concerns, we asked Hemsky if he sees Jagr as a fit in Edmonton.

"He’s not like he was, but he can still be a difference-maker. He’s a superstar. Just having him on the team is good for everybody. That’s why I think it would be good. He’s a guy who can do 70 points. We don’t have guys who can do 70 points."

Why Edmonton? Hemsky and Jagr are friends and speak frequently. Jagr also played for Oilers associate coach Tom Renney in New York and for assistant coach Wayne Fleming in Omsk. So?

"I think he'll want to play someplace where he will be happy, where he will know the coach, and maybe where there are a lot of young guys. He doesn’t have to have the role he used to have, but he has to feel comfortable. I think he would (consider playing with the Oilers), but that’s just speculation."

What about Roman?

Heading into the Olympics, I mentioned Cervenka. Here's what I wrote on Feb. 15.

"While the Oilers will have lots of eyes an ears at the Olympics, some of them on Jaromir Jagr, there's another player who they'll be gawking at, as will other NHL teams. Keep an eye on Czech Republic forward Roman Cervenka, an undrafted 24-year-old who might turn out to be a player for somebody.

"Cervenka never got a sniff during his draft year because he was ridiculously small at five-foot-seven and 127 pounds. That's not a mis-print. He was a-buck-27 as a teenager.

"At five-foot-11 and 187 pounds now, Cervenka's looking like a late-bloomer. In 48 games with Slavia Praha this season, Cervenka has scored 30-41-71 to lead the team in scoring."

Cervenka played on a line with Jagr in Vancouver, but he wasn't overly impressive, managing two assists in five games. Still, Hemsky says he's a player.

"I played with him on the national team. He didn't have the strongest tournament like he'd probably want, but I still think he's a good player. He's a very talented guy. He's pretty strong kid, too, and pretty smart.

"I don't think you can judge people over 10 days or nine days. I just think he's a good player."

Hemsky figures Cervenka is NHL ready. Outside getting one of the top three picks in the Entry Draft this June, which the Oilers will, that's something teams usually have to wait years for when drafting teenagers.

"He's already a player," Hemsky said. "That's what you've got. You don't have to develop. You get a guy who has already played somewhere and has the experience. He's already mature, you know.

"I think he's very smart. He's a really smart, patient guy. He can play both ways. He's a strong, hard-working guy, actually. He works hard off the ice and on the ice. He's a really good kid.

"He can score goals. He's good on face-offs. Who knows? It's different hockey, too, here. That's the risk you're taking. I think sometimes it's better to take a guy who is ready, who has already played somewhere."

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#101 Ender
February 26 2010, 03:02PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

That would cause riots in the streets. Rexall would be burned to the ground.

The 'Nation All-Star Team would be the ones organizing the torch-lighting responsibilities too. Don't deny all; you'd be there in the War-Wagon™.

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#102 Scott in Grande Prairie
February 26 2010, 03:06PM
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With all due respect, Traktor, if you were a teacher, you'd be a pretty hard marker.

I really liked Reasoner and didn't like the fact he was let go ... twice ... but I'd like to think that, when healthy, Horcoff is a much better player than Reasoner and all of those other fellas you'd mentioned.

How much better? Well, let's say 65 points and 55-60 per cent on the draws.

I guess I didn't make it very clear before - I wasn't talking about the Horcoff of 2005-06, I was talking about the Horcoff of 2007-08. That's when he was a point-a-game player when he buggered up his shoulder right before the all-star break.

I may be mistaken, but I believe that's the same shoulder that's been giving him problems ever since. All I'm saying is this - if there are no takers for him on the trade market (and, yes, there might well be a team as dumb as the MLB's Chicago White Sox), then the only other choice is to stick with him. And I'm just the kind of blue-sky, glass-half-full moron who believes there's a chance that Horc might still have some game left in him.

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#103 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
February 26 2010, 03:14PM
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Scott in Grande Prairie wrote:

With all due respect, Traktor, if you were a teacher, you'd be a pretty hard marker.

I really liked Reasoner and didn't like the fact he was let go ... twice ... but I'd like to think that, when healthy, Horcoff is a much better player than Reasoner and all of those other fellas you'd mentioned.

How much better? Well, let's say 65 points and 55-60 per cent on the draws.

I guess I didn't make it very clear before - I wasn't talking about the Horcoff of 2005-06, I was talking about the Horcoff of 2007-08. That's when he was a point-a-game player when he buggered up his shoulder right before the all-star break.

I may be mistaken, but I believe that's the same shoulder that's been giving him problems ever since. All I'm saying is this - if there are no takers for him on the trade market (and, yes, there might well be a team as dumb as the MLB's Chicago White Sox), then the only other choice is to stick with him. And I'm just the kind of blue-sky, glass-half-full moron who believes there's a chance that Horc might still have some game left in him.

The other option is to bite the bullet and play him in the AHL, only reason he isn't there now is because this team has no better option.

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#104 Matt Henderson
February 26 2010, 03:27PM
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@Scott in Grande Prairie

It's been 2 years since he wrecked his shoulder and it still isnt better. He isnt getting any younger either.

His points, plus/minus, and faceoffs have suffered since the injury. At what point do we start talking about that injury as one that he wont fully recover from? Can he ever be an effective 18-20 minute a night forward over an 82-100 game schedule (playoffs included) again?

I have my doubts.

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#105 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 26 2010, 03:33PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

It's been 2 years since he wrecked his shoulder and it still isnt better. He isnt getting any younger either.

His points, plus/minus, and faceoffs have suffered since the injury. At what point do we start talking about that injury as one that he wont fully recover from? Can he ever be an effective 18-20 minute a night forward over an 82-100 game schedule (playoffs included) again?

I have my doubts.

that is the 7 ;) million dollar question.

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#106 Traktor
February 26 2010, 03:41PM
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@Scott in Grande Prairie

Horcoff + Cogliano for Redden + Dubinsky

Visnovsky for Allen + Campbell

Souray + O'Sullivan for Stafford + Tallinder/Lydman (salary dump)

Nilsson for Turco

Penner Gagner Hemsky Cervenka Seguin Jagr Stafford Brule Eberle JFJ Campbell Stortini

Pouliot, Stone, Potulny

Grebs Gilbert Smid Allen xxx Redden

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#107 Scott in Grande Prairie
February 26 2010, 03:42PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

Grant Fuhr had reconstructive surgery in BOTH shoulders (he still sets off airport metal detectors with the pins) and, as memory serves, he set a record for most games played by a goalie in a season with either Buffalo or St. Louis (it was after he left Edmonchuck). And, as I recall, it took him a couple of years to heal. In fact, I think he had the surgeries when he was still and Oiler and ... thank goodness ... that's when we discovered we had a pretty good backup named Ranford.

I think one of the reasons why Horc's shoulder(s) aren't healing is that he's taking WAY too many draws. That's another discussion for another day: The lack of another guy who can take all the big draws. I think we can all agree that a lack of another faceoff guy is one of Tambo's big blunders that he has no one but himself to blame.

I completely see your point - Horc looks awful right now, but I haven't completely made up my mind if it's because he's awful or if it's because he's been caught in the tractor-beam of awfulness that is our beloved Oil.

Sending Horc down to the minor is pretty much a non-starter. The Oilers won't do that, if only because of the "bad optics." It's other play him or trade him ... and I think we should all prepare for the possibility of it being the former, rather than the latter. And, like I say, it need not necessarily be a disaster, if he can just get those shoulder healed.

Maybe Fuhr could give him the number of his orthopedic surgeon?

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#108 Traktor
February 26 2010, 03:45PM
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Screwed that post up, just disregard it.

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#109 David S
February 26 2010, 03:49PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

You don't think a Horcoff for Redden or a Horcoff + something small for Drury or a Horcof + something "mid sized" for Olesz or a Horcoff + something "mid sized" for Brier are possible.

I'm pretty sure theirs at least a handful of NHL GM's that aren't as short sighted as NHL fans and are solely placing his value based on his worst year in 7.

If I were going to spend Horcoff money, I'd want to make pretty damn sure I was getting the value for it. To my mind, trades have to be mutually beneficial, unlike NHL 2010 where you can make any trade you want.

Here in the real world, you can get 10X the player for Horcoff's salary than the level Horcoff is curently playing at, and that level has been there for a while now. Only way a trade happens is if we give up assets that would make us weaker (high pick, Smid, Lubo, I dunno) as part of a sh!t for sh!t trade.

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#110 Lofty
February 26 2010, 03:57PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Remember we are talking about MAYBE getting those picks, theirs been what 4/5 deals since the cap came in that are remotely similar to what you are suggesting and then to top it off we're looking at success rates of those picks being in the 2% - 5% range. Realisticlay your probably looking at roughly a 1/200 chance of getting the trade done AND getting a quality player with those picks.

Do you knowingly make your team worse for the .5% chance that you improve your team (with someone that is relatively easy to aquire on the open market) 5 years from now?

You've got about a 99.9% chance Jagr wont return anything in a year or two so yes I would still take the chance at getting picks or young talent. I would rather be dreadful for 2-3 years and pick off the cream of the drafts than hope Jagr can pull the team up to 9th in the west.

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#111 VMR
February 26 2010, 03:58PM
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I'm against signing Jagr and there are several reasons why. The biggest being why would Jagr want to come over and end his career on the worst team in the NHL? Usually because either we're paying more than anyone else or we're giving a longer term contract than anybody else or possibly both.

The next reason is because he's never had a good work ethic and you dont want that spilling over to the kids you are trying to develop.

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#112 Chris.
February 26 2010, 04:06PM
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Every team has some bad contracts (except maybe Nashville)... The Oilers will find the cap relief they need simply by moving one or two of the struggling D-men who still have cache; by having a few contracts expire; or by buying out a guy like Nilsson... Money will also be saved with the next round of youth injection also.

It's not ideal... but as actual salary and term roll off over the next three seasons; Horcoff may be tradeable/ buy-out-able just when this team (Godwilling) improves and the money is needed for emerging stars...

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#113 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 26 2010, 04:20PM
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David S wrote:

If I were going to spend Horcoff money, I'd want to make pretty damn sure I was getting the value for it. To my mind, trades have to be mutually beneficial, unlike NHL 2010 where you can make any trade you want.

Here in the real world, you can get 10X the player for Horcoff's salary than the level Horcoff is curently playing at, and that level has been there for a while now. Only way a trade happens is if we give up assets that would make us weaker (high pick, Smid, Lubo, I dunno) as part of a sh!t for sh!t trade.

Enough with then NHL 10.

The last few years have been an endless parade of "so and so can't be traded". At best you are guessing, at worst we've seen multiple examples of "untradables" being traded.

The record is broken, lets shut it down.

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#114 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 26 2010, 04:21PM
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Lofty wrote:

You've got about a 99.9% chance Jagr wont return anything in a year or two so yes I would still take the chance at getting picks or young talent. I would rather be dreadful for 2-3 years and pick off the cream of the drafts than hope Jagr can pull the team up to 9th in the west.

Do you honestly think the team will be bottom 2 bad again next year?

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#115 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 26 2010, 04:26PM
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Chris. wrote:

Every team has some bad contracts (except maybe Nashville)... The Oilers will find the cap relief they need simply by moving one or two of the struggling D-men who still have cache; by having a few contracts expire; or by buying out a guy like Nilsson... Money will also be saved with the next round of youth injection also.

It's not ideal... but as actual salary and term roll off over the next three seasons; Horcoff may be tradeable/ buy-out-able just when this team (Godwilling) improves and the money is needed for emerging stars...

Exactly

Within the next 2 years it's safe to assume Gagner/this years 1st/Eberle/MSP/Smid will be on the roster for roughly 11 million.

+ one of Brule/Cogs and likely one of Pecham/Chorney/Plante/Petry for 2.5ish

Add in your 4th line and back up at 3ish million and you've got half your roster for 16 - 19 million.

Thiers also a very strong chance that the cap will begin to rise again as early as 11/12 season, concievable in double digits like it did coming out of the lockout.

Cap space isn't an issue here.

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#116 Ender
February 26 2010, 04:31PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Do you honestly think the team will be bottom 2 bad again next year?

No, but bottom 10 isn't out of the question (keeping in mind the bottom 14 miss the playoffs, and from where we sit right now I don't see the playoffs as part of next-year's future). I don't know if that qualifies as 'dreadful', but it's still a top-10 pick.

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#117 Matt Henderson
February 26 2010, 04:41PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Do you honestly think the team will be bottom 2 bad again next year?

With Tambi at the helm, anything is possible

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#118 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 26 2010, 04:47PM
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Ender wrote:

No, but bottom 10 isn't out of the question (keeping in mind the bottom 14 miss the playoffs, and from where we sit right now I don't see the playoffs as part of next-year's future). I don't know if that qualifies as 'dreadful', but it's still a top-10 pick.

I'd agree, and I wouldn't want to sacrifice another year to pick 8/9/10. off the top of my head, the odds of getting even an average top 6 player in that range is less then 50%.

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#119 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 26 2010, 04:47PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

With Tambi at the helm, anything is possible

Haha, true enough.

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#120 Lofty
February 26 2010, 05:28PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

I have no reason to think otherwise. Nothing has changed and until Tambo shows an ability to pick up phone nothing is going to. Selling NHL'ers at the deadline is not going to make the team better for next year... it will help 3-5 years down the road.

I think it will be tough to finish in the basement for the next two years but even 10th in the west would be a major improvment and a decent draft picks... at least the season shouldnt be a waste in November if they are around 10th.

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#121 Lofty
February 26 2010, 05:53PM
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@ Archaeologuy

Amen

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#122 Insider
February 26 2010, 09:39PM
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Gretz will be joining the Oilers in some capacity soon. Hired by Katz himself.

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#123 David S
February 27 2010, 12:14PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Enough with then NHL 10.

The last few years have been an endless parade of "so and so can't be traded". At best you are guessing, at worst we've seen multiple examples of "untradables" being traded.

The record is broken, lets shut it down.

Horcoff isn't going anywhere. Gregor was banning people from propagating this stupidity on his show, which BTW was hilarious.

He makes WAY too much. He plays WAY too poorly. Seriously. Just have a look at the other guys making Horcoff money. They are trade bait. Horcoff is not. Would you bet his ridiculous salary that he's going to even play close to those numbers?

Didn't think so.

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#124 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 27 2010, 12:42PM
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David S wrote:

Horcoff isn't going anywhere. Gregor was banning people from propagating this stupidity on his show, which BTW was hilarious.

He makes WAY too much. He plays WAY too poorly. Seriously. Just have a look at the other guys making Horcoff money. They are trade bait. Horcoff is not. Would you bet his ridiculous salary that he's going to even play close to those numbers?

Didn't think so.

You seem like a nice enough guy, but I just don't know why you this is so difficult to understand: Last years Penner was involved in a deal for a top 5 goal scorer.

I've looked at what other guys that make Horcoff $$, I know what they score. You can repeat it over and over, it doesn't change the fact that fans are CONSISTANTLY wrong about who can and can't be moved.

It's unlikely, and it would be painful to do it but if they wanted to move him bad enough they could.

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#125 Lofty
February 27 2010, 01:02PM
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Insider wrote:

Gretz will be joining the Oilers in some capacity soon. Hired by Katz himself.

2nd line center? or does Hemsky think he could play with him?

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#126 David S
February 27 2010, 01:44PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

You seem like a nice enough guy, but I just don't know why you this is so difficult to understand: Last years Penner was involved in a deal for a top 5 goal scorer.

I've looked at what other guys that make Horcoff $$, I know what they score. You can repeat it over and over, it doesn't change the fact that fans are CONSISTANTLY wrong about who can and can't be moved.

It's unlikely, and it would be painful to do it but if they wanted to move him bad enough they could.

Penner was obviously in a slump and not nursing/hiding a major injury. Lets forget about the other two guys because Penner makes the trade possible. You could easily imagine Penner doing better in a different situation, so a chance well taken. And lo and behold, any GM would have been right.

On the other hand, there's something seriously wrong with Horcoff. Either his shoulder is WAY worse than he's letting on or he's simply broken. I imagine he looks alot like a lame race horse to other GM'S. Still, if he wasn't making monster money, a GM might think about it.

Let's assume an NHL GM has a pretty good idea how to evaluate players. If its obvious to us lame-asses something's wrong, how would a GM see anything different?

The sad fact of the matter is that Horcoff's contract is toxic. I'm sorry you don't like it, but its the cold hard reality. The only way he'd get traded now would be if we gave up SO much that there's no way we'd ever break even in the deal. If the trade has no hope of making us better any way you look at it, why would you do it?

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#127 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 27 2010, 02:44PM
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David S wrote:

Penner was obviously in a slump and not nursing/hiding a major injury. Lets forget about the other two guys because Penner makes the trade possible. You could easily imagine Penner doing better in a different situation, so a chance well taken. And lo and behold, any GM would have been right.

On the other hand, there's something seriously wrong with Horcoff. Either his shoulder is WAY worse than he's letting on or he's simply broken. I imagine he looks alot like a lame race horse to other GM'S. Still, if he wasn't making monster money, a GM might think about it.

Let's assume an NHL GM has a pretty good idea how to evaluate players. If its obvious to us lame-asses something's wrong, how would a GM see anything different?

The sad fact of the matter is that Horcoff's contract is toxic. I'm sorry you don't like it, but its the cold hard reality. The only way he'd get traded now would be if we gave up SO much that there's no way we'd ever break even in the deal. If the trade has no hope of making us better any way you look at it, why would you do it?

It has nothing to do with me "liking it" or not, and everything thing to do with people guessing/stating your opinion and acting as if it is fact.

"Let's assume an NHL GM has a pretty good idea how to evaluate players. If its obvious to us lame-asses something's wrong, how would a GM see anything different?" Here's the thing, us lame-asses have been calling mutiple NHL'ers "Unmovable" for 2-3 years now....allot of those same guys were moved. So no, I don't believe the lame asses and the GM's have the same view on players, "we" are consistantly wrong, so why would I expect this time to be differnt. Heck, it was only a few months ago that you were going on about Morea/Staios being "untradable", yet the rumours are flying they will be moved.

50 point Gomez with a 35% bigger contract was moved for a pretty nice return.

Their are other "bad contracts" out there, that could easily be swaped with Horcs with a mid-sized extra.

ie Horc+Cogs for a 3.5 million dollar bottom pairing dman with 3/4 more years on his contract.

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#128 Matt Henderson
February 27 2010, 02:54PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

I see your argument, but it's a cure that's worse than the disease. No GM would make that move on the Oilers' behalf. So then the argument shifts sideways but is still stuck with Nobody trading Horc.

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#129 David S
February 27 2010, 03:39PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

I see your argument, but it's a cure that's worse than the disease. No GM would make that move on the Oilers' behalf. So then the argument shifts sideways but is still stuck with Nobody trading Horc.

Exaaaactly. Thank you.

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