December 14 2011 12:12PM
A recent poll here on the Nation showed a dead heat among Oilers fans regarding the future of Ales Hemsky. 40% felt he should be re-signed and 37% felt he should be traded.
We have held Ales Hemsky in very high regard for a great many years. We fondly recall when he broke into the league and how quickly he produced in the NHL. We also remember how he put up tremendous numbers in the Cup Run of 2006. He played tough hockey that entire spring and we will never forget the night he decided to single handedly destroy Detroit in Round 1.
We also felt for the guy as the team struggled in the years since. He was playing with Pylon A and Goof XYZ on far too many nights during the prime of his career. And now that his team has three of the top 30 scorers in the NHL – and Taylor Hall – Hemsky’s health and lack of production is a real concern and comes at a time where he too should be lighting the league on fire.
We are about half way to being a tremendous team here in Edmonton Nation. Yet this is clearly a team at a crossroads. On the one hand we have got a squad so deep that MPS is being considered as an AHL candidate.
And yet on the other hand despite all of the early-season-amazing and eye-popping-hattricks and the-Nuge-being-the-next-Steve-Yzerman and Jordan-Eberle-zipping-pucks-into-the-twine-at-will the Oil sit in 10th place.
On the outside looking in.
Perhaps it is due to his inability to stay healthy. Or maybe it is frustration over his diminished role and ice time. Whatever the case may be the Mighty Oilers cannot afford to have Hemsky's head in the clouds and off the score sheet for much longer.
Because if you haven’t noticed there are glaring holes in the back end of this team. Obvious, glaring holes that any opposing team with functioning rods and cones can see. And the goaltending situation - despite what the stats said earlier in the year - is shaky at best.
You can’t have the forward corps looking so deep that a Grade A fella like MPS gets sent down to the AHL at the same time running the bulk of an AHL defensive corps on the big squad for much longer. Even men riddled with indecision like Steve Tambellini and Co will eventually come to this conclusion.
They need to shore up the back end and Ales Hemsky could find himself on his way out of the City that drafted him back in 2001 if he doesn’t get his head in the game.
Plus Hemsky makes decent coin. Decent coin that is going to be needed in the coming years. Sure Kevin Lowe signed him to a steal of a deal when he signed the 6 year/$24.6 million contract back in 2006. But if he isn’t going to take advantage of the best top 2 lines we have seen here in E-Town in the past decade – he and his 4.1 million dollar contract have to go.
Besides, heavens only knows how much money he will want to re-sign. His cap hit could go up in the coming years and with Hall-Eberle-Nuge coming up for renegotiation in 2014-15 we will need to have about $3 billion in cap space at the ready to get those deals done.
AT THE END OF THE DAY
If Hemsky is going to be dangled as trade bait we should refrain from running him out of town. This is a guy who delivered on a lot of meaningless nights and is 10th in all time franchise scoring.
He deserves a tremendous amount of respect from all of us who live and die with the Copper and Blue.