Ales Hemsky: second thoughts

Robin Brownlee
May 09 2010 06:18PM

Edmonton Oilers v Buffalo Sabres

I should know better than to think I can sit on something for even a couple of days as long as Jim Matheson totes a notepad in this town. I got yet another example of why as Matheson offered up a brief but noteworthy item on Ales Hemsky in today's Hockey World in The Journal.

Matheson wrote:

"Multiple NHL sources say Hemsky, who has two years left on his contract before he can walk away as an unrestricted free agent, gave off some positive vibes at his exit meeting about the direction of the Oilers' rebuilding job, so the team might want to re-sign him, anyway."

I was told much the same thing from somebody I trust late last week: in essence, Hemsky, who has given off some very negative vibes about his tenure and his future with the Edmonton Oilers in recent seasons, had a very positive chat with Oilers brass during his exit meetings.

That's significant, no?

Reason to stay?

Based on what I've heard and seen from Hemsky in recent seasons, I didn't have much doubt, any actually, he'd be bolting city limits and not looking back the second his contract is up two seasons from now.

That wasn't hinged on just one or two off-handed remarks, but on several discussions he had with scribes, including me, over four consecutive seasons out of the playoffs. Beyond the obvious frustration that comes with losing, Hemsky seemed like a profoundly unhappy camper, to me.

Unhappy enough I suggested GM Steve Tambellini should consider trading him -- as early as June at the Entry Draft if it would land the Oilers the second overall pick that belongs to Boston -- to get the most value for the talented Czech forward rather than have him devalued while awaiting his chance to scram.

At 26, and with a bargain $4.1-million cap hit, Hemsky is Tambellini's best bargaining chip as he delves into a rebuild. A shot at sweeping both Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall is worth giving up two more years of Hemsky, I argued a couple months ago (without knowing if Peter Chiarelli would laugh or listen).

I don't know the first thing as far as what exactly was said during Hemsky's exit meeting, but if Tambellini left the sit-down with the positive feeling I'm led to believe he did, it changes everything.

If you pencil in no. 83...

If, to borrow from Daryl Katz, Hemsky isn't going anywhere, then what does that change moving forward? Plenty, obviously, starting with what Tambellini does this summer.

With the No. 1 pick in his hip pocket, does Tambellini look to move somebody else of note -- Dustin Penner? -- to land another top-10 pick? Does he think slightly bigger than that, like top-five, or smaller?

If Hemsky is of the mind to wait and see how this rebuild unfolds and is at least open to re-signing -- at a healthy raise -- does that change who Tambellini drafts with the No. 1 pick in Los Angeles? Would Hall be the dynamic left winger Hemsky hasn't had to play with? I don't know.

What I do know is that if Hemsky really has turned, if he's sold on what he's seeing and what Tambellini is pitching, this team is going to look different than it would have otherwise.

We'll have to wait and see how this plays out because one meeting doesn't necessarily change everything that led me to believe Hemsky couldn't wait do get out of Oil Country.

But it's the first indication I've heard in a long, long time that Hemsky doesn't have one eye on the door.

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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I said it before there is no reason to get our panties in a knot over Hemsky. We have time to make a decision on him.

With that being said if the Oilers felt that either Hemsky wants out or that he isn't apart of the rebuild then you move him. You don't move a guy because he may want out in 2 years.

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@Robin Brownlee

From the start I didn't see what the big issue was. Sure you'd be concerned, but it's not like he is a UFA in two months.

Yes you need the good read, but guess what lots of the fans don't see that. They just read articles about how Hemsky might want out and they get all up in arms and call for him to be dealt for the 2nd overall pick.

Management should have good reads on all their players not just Hemsky. If someone like Cogliano or Gagner is unhappy the management should be just as concerned as they would be with Hemsky.

It's good to see that Katz potentially had a meeting with Hemsky to see where his head is at, I'd like to hear more of that with our key players.

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#54 Lofty
May 10 2010, 07:57AM
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Ryan wrote:

Hemmers the main reason I pay to see the Oil. I hope he does stay long term. With him, Hall, Eberle, Gagner, Penner, MPS, Omark, we can be in full attack mode. Plus with Boston already having playmakers in Savard, Bergeron, Krejci, it doesnt make sense that they would want another in Hemsky.

It's fun watching him turn the puck over. Don't know if its worth the price of admission though.

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#55 Chris.
May 10 2010, 08:33AM
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Lofty wrote:

It's fun watching him turn the puck over. Don't know if its worth the price of admission though.

Are you kidding? All those lazy button hook routes he (Hemsky) skates at the blue line are Horcoff's fault.

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#56 Bucknuck
May 10 2010, 08:37AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

From the start I didn't see what the big issue was. Sure you'd be concerned, but it's not like he is a UFA in two months.

Yes you need the good read, but guess what lots of the fans don't see that. They just read articles about how Hemsky might want out and they get all up in arms and call for him to be dealt for the 2nd overall pick.

Management should have good reads on all their players not just Hemsky. If someone like Cogliano or Gagner is unhappy the management should be just as concerned as they would be with Hemsky.

It's good to see that Katz potentially had a meeting with Hemsky to see where his head is at, I'd like to hear more of that with our key players.

There have been enough trade demands on this team for management to get a chill up their spine if Hemsky doesn't seem happy. Not being an UFA didn't stop Souray, Comrie, and Pronger from affecting the team, did it?

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#57 Chris.
May 10 2010, 08:40AM
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@Surshot

Not to be rude but: you are = you're... not your.

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@Robin Brownlee

Or you could just wait to see how the year goes and move him at the deadline(2011). I'd suspect a player like Hemsky making 4mil would be very attractive come the trade deadline.

It's not like Hemsky is Souray, Hemsky has a tonne of value around the league and would be wanted by quite a few teams. If he wanted out it would be a shame, but at the sametime you are going to get a good return for him.

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@Bucknuck

Sure you show concern, but there is no need to get up in arms about it if they do then there are going to be more problems in the future.

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#60 sean
May 10 2010, 08:49AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Thanks. I hadn't heard any such thing about Katz and Hemsky myself (assuming it's true).

I trust the source-as he is the owner of this west end cafe.

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#61 Chris.
May 10 2010, 08:49AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Or you could just wait to see how the year goes and move him at the deadline(2011). I'd suspect a player like Hemsky making 4mil would be very attractive come the trade deadline.

It's not like Hemsky is Souray, Hemsky has a tonne of value around the league and would be wanted by quite a few teams. If he wanted out it would be a shame, but at the sametime you are going to get a good return for him.

Trade Hemsky at the deadline? This makes no sense. Teams that are loading up for a long playoff run aren't likely to send quality roster players back, and are only very rarely in possession of a high first round pick. The Oilers need to make a hockey trade if Hemsky wants out.

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Chris. wrote:

Trade Hemsky at the deadline? This makes no sense. Teams that are loading up for a long playoff run aren't likely to send quality roster players back, and are only very rarely in possession of a high first round pick. The Oilers need to make a hockey trade if Hemsky wants out.

A hockey trade like what? I really don't see them getting quality players for Hemsky anyways. It would be young players or prospects.

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#63 Archaeologuy
May 10 2010, 09:03AM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

You dont think the best player on the team with the best valued contract would fetch a couple decent players? Undervalued much?

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#64 Chris.
May 10 2010, 09:07AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

A hockey trade like what? I really don't see them getting quality players for Hemsky anyways. It would be young players or prospects.

I'm not going to fall into this trap and waste my entire day arguing the merits of purely hypothetical Hemsky trades.

I remember last year when Staples (I think it was staples) pitched a Hemsky for Dustin Brown trade... I spent three days taking a beating on this very site for suggesting that such a deal might be a good move for the Oilers to find some size and better overall balance. Compare this argument from a year ago to your scenario of having to move Hemsky for some picks and prospects and suddenly that that deal, which is no longer even faintly possible, looks extra attractive, IMO.

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#65 Lofty
May 10 2010, 09:09AM
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Chris. wrote:

Are you kidding? All those lazy button hook routes he (Hemsky) skates at the blue line are Horcoff's fault.

Doesnt change the fact that it happens more than it should.

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#66 Tracie
May 10 2010, 09:26AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

For the record I still wouldnt trade Hemsky for Brown :)

Me neither! I'm still reeling from the last promising young forward we got from Los Angeles!! lol!

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#67 madjam
May 10 2010, 09:36AM
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Sean wrote:

I was at a local cafe last week and the owner had mentioned to us that Hemsky & katz were there the previous week, just the two of them, for over 2.5 hours.

It seems Hemsky must be in their plans or at least Katz is selling Hemsky on their plan.

Interesting that it was just the two of them . Get the feeling Katz is concerned at the thought of leaving Hemsky's future with the organization in Tams and/or Lowes hands ? Maybe Katz is looking at revamping upper management ?

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#68 Crash
May 10 2010, 09:51AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

"Not like he is a UFA in two months"

You obviously miss the point completely. If you make a decision on Hemsky "two months" before he's an unrestricted free agent, you've missed the boat. You get nothing for him.

If you know two years before he's a UFA that he's unhappy and is highly unlikely to re-sign, then you either try to address that discontent -- as has apparently happened here -- or you decide to trade him so you get something back.

The optimal window for making such a trade with the above timeline in terms of return would fall between now and the deadline this coming season. The return diminishes if you wait until next summer, leaving just one year on his contract, or if you wait until the deadline of 2012, when you get a rental fee for him.

And fans "getting up in arms" because they don't want to "see that" means nothing, zero, in the decision-making process.

Hemsky's negative state of mind was a concern. If that state of mind is changing, it's a significant development. You can talk around that if you want, but if you do then, like I said, you've missed the point.

It seems as though management has been talking to Hemsky to find out where he's at, hence the exit interview news and the news that Katz and Hemsky alledgedly had a sit down together.

As much as many don't appear to appreciate Hemsky's talent he could be a very key part of a winning team over the next 6 or so years. I agree with Ogden Jr. Yes I would get a feel from Hemsky right now about where he's at, that's a no brainer and I'm sure they have and are doing that. If I get any positive feedback from Hemsky I don't attempt to trade him until after I've tried to resign him meaning after this year.

You can argue as you have that his trade value diminishes after next year but I don't think one extra year is going to change his trade value that much. In fact due to the fact he's coming off shoulder surgery other teams may even be a little hesitant to give up anything significant at this point until Hemsky has shown he is going to be 100%.

So wait until after next year...by then Hemsky will know which way he is leaning as he will have had a chance to see how much improvement or lack there of there is in year one with that new additions. Try to sign Hemsky next summer to an extension and if he won't sign then move him for the best deal.

Sometimes as the saying goes the best deal you can make is no deal at all....having Hall make an immediate impact IMO would go a long way to keeping Hemsky here as well as Gagner making that next step and Eberle making this team

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#69 David Staples
May 10 2010, 10:02AM
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Hemsky will command top dollar to stay but he may well be worth it, as he will be 29,30, 31, 23 and 33 he signs for five years. Those are usually pretty good years in the career of an NHLer.

I'm glad he's open to staying, but have no doubt that money will talk here. . . . to borrow from J.R. Foley (Stampede wrestling manager from another era.)

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@Archaeologuy

Depends what you consider decent players. I'd suspect something similar to what NJ gave up for Kovalchuk.

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@Crash

My thought is you bring in all these youngsters and maybe there is one that clicks with Hemsky. I'd hate to throw away that without even giving it a shot.

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#72 Archaeologuy
May 10 2010, 10:21AM
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@David Staples

I wonder if this might turn into one of those 10 year deals that averages out to 5 million but pays big for the 1st 4-5 years before winding down.

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#73 Archaeologuy
May 10 2010, 10:22AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Depends what you consider decent players. I'd suspect something similar to what NJ gave up for Kovalchuk.

I'd expect more if he were going with 2 full seasons left on his contract. Kovalchuk was pure rental and a big cap hit.

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@Archaeologuy

I wouldn't expect that much more. It's kinda hard because I can't really think of a good comparable. Heatley would be an example, but higher cap hit although a better player too.

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#75 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 10 2010, 10:28AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I wonder if this might turn into one of those 10 year deals that averages out to 5 million but pays big for the 1st 4-5 years before winding down.

Noooooooooooo

Then we'd have to deal with all the "Hemsky makes 11 million non-sense."

;0

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Not related at all, but my god does Jagr continue to impress. Can't see how anyone could consider him a cancer. The heart he shows for the World Championships is simply amazing.

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#77 Archaeologuy
May 10 2010, 10:35AM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

I'd be more concerned that his shoulder injury recovery mimics Horcoff's and he's a shadow of himself.

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#78 Westcoastoil
May 10 2010, 10:40AM
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If you keep Hemsky, does it make more sense to draft Hall to give him a scoring winger rather than another playmaker on his line?

In all the Seguin/Hall debating, I've missed people's comments on how MPS impacts the decision. How big is the gap between Hall and MPS? Do you run Hall, Penner, MPS down the LHS? Try and trade MPS, move Penner, or does having MPS push you closer to Seguin?

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#79 madjam
May 10 2010, 10:40AM
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Ever since we went away from filling positions with Oilers and ex Oilers has anyone seen our fortunes turn for the better ? No !! Have you noticed how bad things have become since we went on this so called new adventure/ witch hunt . Why are so many of you interested and so passionate to rid the "boys on the bus " Oilers ,etc.? Seems to me we were better off before, when we stuck with the Oiler allegiance . I suppose some of you think otherwise, but 30th position and the problems we have all over says we're not getting any better by going outside .

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#80 Archaeologuy
May 10 2010, 10:43AM
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@Westcoastoil

What if we drafted the guy that scored the most goals between Hall and Seguin?

*checks the olde timey stats page

Oh yeah, it's Seguin.

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#81 Crash
May 10 2010, 10:55AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

What if we drafted the guy that scored the most goals between Hall and Seguin?

*checks the olde timey stats page

Oh yeah, it's Seguin.

Depends on your timeline....Hall has more OHL goals than Seguin, more OHL playoff goals than Seguin and oh yeah, more World jr goals than Seguin

So, oh yeah, it's Hall

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#82 Archaeologuy
May 10 2010, 10:58AM
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@Crash

Timeline? Keep making up different ways of counting goals, it doesnt make them any more valid.

Give up that argument.

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#83 Crash
May 10 2010, 10:59AM
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Crash wrote:

Depends on your timeline....Hall has more OHL goals than Seguin, more OHL playoff goals than Seguin and oh yeah, more World jr goals than Seguin

So, oh yeah, it's Hall

Oh and almost forgot Hall has more Memorial cup goals than Seguin...and stay tuned, that stat may not be done just yet.

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#84 Crash
May 10 2010, 11:00AM
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Give up the ONE regular season arguement....it's weak...why don't you point out that Seguin played 6 more games than Hall?

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#85 Archaeologuy
May 10 2010, 11:02AM
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Crash wrote:

Give up the ONE regular season arguement....it's weak...why don't you point out that Seguin played 6 more games than Hall?

Hate to break it to you, but it's the year that matters. Ask Angelo Esposito.

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#86 Westcoastoil
May 10 2010, 11:04AM
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Crash wrote:

Depends on your timeline....Hall has more OHL goals than Seguin, more OHL playoff goals than Seguin and oh yeah, more World jr goals than Seguin

So, oh yeah, it's Hall

Wow, I knew Hall was having a good playoff run, but I didn't he was ripping it at almost 2 ppg. For the record though I'm on the Seguin side - you have to draft a franchise centre, they almost never get traded.

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#87 Crash
May 10 2010, 11:05AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Hate to break it to you, but it's the year that matters. Ask Angelo Esposito.

You're cherry picking....the year isn't over yet...Hall is still playing.

Why don't we draft the winner?

Hate to break it to you but playoff performers are important to winning.

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#88 Chris.
May 10 2010, 11:06AM
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@Crash

What about rumblings concerning Hall's character? David Staples cited a quote from Woodlief of the Redline report in his excellent Cult Of Hockey Blog last weekend:

Here's the post, from Kyle Woodlief of Redline Report, who blasted Hall back in February, writing: " Now, we don't dispute that Hall's rare offensive gifts give him the edge for the No. 1 overall slot in this year's draft. But we'd hate to be the NHL coach whose job it will be in a few months to rein in this selfish, immature winger with a head swelled so large that he can't fit through doorways and absolutely no concept of doing what's best for the team instead of thinking of himself."

If this is even a little true: how does drafting Hall help fix team culture? Stu and his staff need to do the interviews, background checks, personality profiles, etc. before a choice is made. Personality is also important when you are picking a franchise player. I've never met either player... have you?

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#89 Oil_Loc8or
May 10 2010, 11:08AM
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@Crash

I think it's extremely hard for a guy to score more goals over his short career if he had played one less year ? Team Canada was stacked at center this year or Seguin would have been on the team. He is ranked #1 by people who get payed to rank players. It's good to look at the stats and easily forget reality. Seguin #1 Hall #2

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#90 Archaeologuy
May 10 2010, 11:10AM
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@Crash

I wont argue the fact that the kid's been on a winning team or that he's a playoff performer. Those are two uncontestable facts.

Doesnt mean he scored more reg season goals than Seguin. Dont try to argue he did, because he didnt. Stick to the points that cant be disproven.

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#91 Crash
May 10 2010, 11:13AM
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Chris. wrote:

What about rumblings concerning Hall's character? David Staples cited a quote from Woodlief of the Redline report in his excellent Cult Of Hockey Blog last weekend:

Here's the post, from Kyle Woodlief of Redline Report, who blasted Hall back in February, writing: " Now, we don't dispute that Hall's rare offensive gifts give him the edge for the No. 1 overall slot in this year's draft. But we'd hate to be the NHL coach whose job it will be in a few months to rein in this selfish, immature winger with a head swelled so large that he can't fit through doorways and absolutely no concept of doing what's best for the team instead of thinking of himself."

If this is even a little true: how does drafting Hall help fix team culture? Stu and his staff need to do the interviews, background checks, personality profiles, etc. before a choice is made. Personality is also important when you are picking a franchise player. I've never met either player... have you?

Yet the guy that was on Stauffer's show last week from the Red Line report ranks Hall ahead of Seguin...

So you would like to pass on Hall, described as having "rare" offensive gifts. Seems to me for a guy who is supposed to be so selfish and isn't good for team atmosphere, the teams he's played on have faired quite well...wouldn't you say?

I'm sure the interviews will be done and the background checks will be done, etc.

What if both players don't fair well in interviews...are you suggesting we pass on both then?

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#92 Chris.
May 10 2010, 11:15AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I wont argue the fact that the kid's been on a winning team or that he's a playoff performer. Those are two uncontestable facts.

Doesnt mean he scored more reg season goals than Seguin. Dont try to argue he did, because he didnt. Stick to the points that cant be disproven.

I also really like Sequin's even strength scoring numbers compared to Hall's... Sure wish we could have them both!

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#93 Crash
May 10 2010, 11:17AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I wont argue the fact that the kid's been on a winning team or that he's a playoff performer. Those are two uncontestable facts.

Doesnt mean he scored more reg season goals than Seguin. Dont try to argue he did, because he didnt. Stick to the points that cant be disproven.

Ahh there you said it....regular season....

That's not what you stated above, you stated simply that Seguin had more goals and therefore that's who we should draft...

Wouldn't you say being a playoff performer is important? That showing up when the pressure increases is important? Just asking...

Please give the whole story, don't just pick out part of it...

And I am sticking to just as many points that can't be disproven as you are when deciding who I'd like to see drafted 1st overall...

It's much more than just who scored more regular season goals this season...that arguement proves absolutely nothing especially when you factor into it that Seguin played more games

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#94 Archaeologuy
May 10 2010, 11:19AM
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@Chris.

The even strength numbers for Seguin are incredible. The numbers just smack you in the face compared to Hall.

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#95 Oil_Loc8or
May 10 2010, 11:21AM
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Seguin played two seasons in the OHL getting better from season to season. Hall has shown little change from his first season to third.

Hall is playing on a better team that's why he is in the playoffs. Yes he is playing well, but do you think if Seguin was on that team he wouldn't be playing well ?

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#96 Chris.
May 10 2010, 11:23AM
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@Crash

What if both players don't fair well in interviews...are you suggesting we pass on both then?

Don't be silly...

I don't know if Hall really is a selfish, overly egotistic player... but I sure hope the Oilers can figure out the truth... Jr coaches can afford to coddle their stars because they know that they will be gone in a year or two. GM's who are building a new club around a first overall pick may not want the same headache for upwards of ten seasons...

Besides, Hall guy, what happened to acknowledging the fact these two prospects are incredibly close? You are really digging in... maybe a little too hard?

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#97 Crash
May 10 2010, 11:26AM
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Chris. wrote:
What if both players don't fair well in interviews...are you suggesting we pass on both then?

Don't be silly...

I don't know if Hall really is a selfish, overly egotistic player... but I sure hope the Oilers can figure out the truth... Jr coaches can afford to coddle their stars because they know that they will be gone in a year or two. GM's who are building a new club around a first overall pick may not want the same headache for upwards of ten seasons...

Besides, Hall guy, what happened to acknowledging the fact these two prospects are incredibly close? You are really digging in... maybe a little too hard?

IMO and yes it's just my opinion I don't think they are as close as is being made out...

I think Hall is clearly the choice here...the evidence to it is overwhelming again IMO...

I definitely acknowledge Seguin to be a good prospect but I believe Hall will be the superstar....Seguin won't

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#98 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
May 10 2010, 11:27AM
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It's difficult to gauge Hemsky's exit meeting without actually being there, could it have just been the satisfaction that this difficult season is in the rear view mirror or simply wanting to leave his employer thinking they have a happy employee. This may just be the start of the mis-direction/leading the Oilers down the garden path (ala Kovalchuk) before leaving. I would have liked to have seen his eyes during this meeting.

Only way i move Hemmer/Penner is for the second or third(penner) pick this summer. We could always gamble and hope things turn around in the next 16 months to sway their direction.

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#99 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
May 10 2010, 11:32AM
Trash it!
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trashes
Cheers
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cheers

@Crash

What if both players don't fair well in interviews...are you suggesting we pass on both then?

all things being equal, IMO you take the center. Hall says he likes playing center, but if he isnt playing it at the junior level, expecting him to do it at the NHL level might be a stretch.

teams that win cups have true, legit, #1 centers. The oilers dont have one now, one is not signing here via UFA, and the trade route looks bleak. Only other way to get one is via the draft.

do you take hall now and roll the dice that a center falls into your lap later?

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#100 Chris.
May 10 2010, 11:39AM
Trash it!
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trashes
Cheers
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cheers

@Crash

What if Hall tests terribly? What if his teammates are glad to see him gone? What if Eberle is crossing his fingers they take a pass on a selfish douche? *ALL HYPOTHETICAL*

If MacGregor knows these things and picks Sequin instead, based on both need and personality, despite a minimal talent drop off: Will you as a fan, and blog commentator, take a wait and see approach..?. or just complain for three years running after every home loss?

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