ALES HEMSKY: GET WHAT YOU CAN

Robin Brownlee
February 10 2012 03:17PM

Is there any debate that if Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini moves Ales Hemsky by the NHL's Feb. 27 trade deadline he'll be giving him away for pennies on the dollar? Of course there isn't. The only thing worse would be getting nothing for him.

Hemsky, 28, is coming off another shoulder surgery. He's without a goal in his last dozen games and has just one goal in his last 26 games. Then, there's speculation about that body language thing – which either screams "Get me the hell out of here" or "I'm pissed about losing my place on the marquee," depending on whose translation you're inclined to go with.

Add it all up and it's safe to say Hemsky's value is at an all-time low and that Tambellini isn't going to get anything approaching full value for an in-his-prime player who, when healthy (whenever that last was), has been a crowd-pleaser who fits in the top-six of every team in the NHL.

If Tambellini moves Hemsky, who has underwhelming 4-18-22 and minus-15 totals in the 41 games he's played, he's going to get stiffed. If he doesn't move him, he's going to get nothing.

There's a lose-lose proposition if ever there was one.

FEW OPTIONS

I'm going to resist the urge to kick a player when he's down and pile on Hemsky with the people who are willing to drive him city limits just to get him gone. People, including those in the media, have a habit of turning on players when they're on the way out. Not fair.

That said, I think it's a stretch of monumental proportions to think, given how this season has unfolded, that Hemsky and the Oilers are going down the road of signing a new contract to keep him in Edmonton for the next four or five years. The next four or five weeks, for that matter.

I don't have any hard-and-fast inside information that Hemsky, despite some half-baked comments about liking it in Edmonton, has made it known he absolutely wants to stay. On the flipside, nobody who is in-the-know has told me Hemsky has made it clear he wants out, even if every instinct I have tells me he wants a new start as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Likewise, I'm not convinced that the Oilers are determined to keep Hemsky in the fold moving forward. Even in the unlikely event they are, I'm not sold that Tambellini is capable of making the kind of pitch to Hemsky and agent Jiri Crha that'll make it happen on a team that's about to miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

Owner Daryl Katz made that pitch to Hemsky over dinner a couple of summers ago and the Czech winger bought it. Hemsky's performance on the ice has since gone sideways with his shoulder problems. And it's not like Katz or anybody else can sell Hemsky on the merits of being the brightest star on the big team in town this time, as was the case before Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins arrived. Another season or two of rebuilding before this team can contend? Hmm.

"Ales, we'll be really good in two more years . . ."

LIMITED MARKET

Listening to plugged in Darren Dreger of TSN tell it today on TEAM 1260, the market for Hemsky isn't exactly teaming with GMs trying to elbow their way to the front of the line to get him. Why would they after what we have seen the past two seasons? Has Hemsky looked like a player a Stanley Cup contender has a spot reserved for in the top six?

That, as Dreger and others point out, could change in the next 18 days as the playoff picture starts to sort itself out and the wants and needs of contenders become more pressing. Then again, realistically, how many destinations might there be aside from Los Angeles, Nashville and Detroit, where past interest in him is apparently waning in favor of adding a grittier forward?

And, unless a team absolutely needs a player with one goal in his last 26 games right here and right now, isn't it more likely that they take a run at him over the summer, should Hemsky catch fire down the stretch? And if somebody does make an offer now, what might the best possible return to the Oilers be? That's the question.

While it's absolutely fair comment to ask how the Oilers and Hemsky got to this point in the first place, it's where they are. Framed in that, the way I see it is that Hemsky's gone one way or another and it's better to get something for him in the next 18 days rather than nothing.

Unless you think Hemsky is coming back. If you do, I have a real estate deal that can make you rich. Really.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 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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#1 Pucker
February 10 2012, 03:25PM
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It's frustrating thinking about Hemsky.

ideally he will sign an extension but the Oilers can't do anything if he is planning on testing the waters.

I hope I'm the first to say I hope he gets re-signed for one more season . . . he can't be this bad.

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#2 Cru Jones
February 10 2012, 03:25PM
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A lose/lose proposition. Finally someone gets it right.

Why do people insist on even suggesting that they sign him for one-year? If you're in Hemsky's position, do you even consider signing for less than 2 or 3 years?

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#3 Woogie
February 10 2012, 03:25PM
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@brownlee

I don't agree with everything you write however I think you are spot on with this article.

Props!

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#4 Hemmercules
February 10 2012, 03:29PM
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Good read. I hate to see my once favorite player leaving but it just feels like it will happen one way or another. Maybe Tambo will hash out a 1 or 2 year deal if the deadline offers are too weak but the fact that they haven't even talked to him about contracts speaks volumes.

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#5 Paq Twinn
February 10 2012, 03:31PM
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For Sale by Owner: Ocean front property in Saskatoon. Taking offers.

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#6 Tyler
February 10 2012, 03:33PM
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I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just asking: why does Hemsky tell Gregor he wants to be here if he doesn't? He doesn't have to talk about it. He's the one who brought up them not having made an offer, not someone else. If he's happy to be gone, why does he say anything about this at all?

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#7 Paq Twinn
February 10 2012, 03:34PM
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Cru Jones wrote:

A lose/lose proposition. Finally someone gets it right.

Why do people insist on even suggesting that they sign him for one-year? If you're in Hemsky's position, do you even consider signing for less than 2 or 3 years?

Well it wouldn't be the worst idea ever. His vaue isn't what it used to be. One good stong season next year could show he still has some game left in him.

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#8 JimmyOiler
February 10 2012, 03:35PM
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I agree with the idea of signing him short term. It gives the player the opportunity to prove he's still a top-six forward when he's healthy (I really don't think he's quite over his surgery yet) and given what he's put up with on this team over the years, I think the team owes him another chance if he wants it (as far as a team ever owes a player anything...)

If he does well in that year, then good for him and good for the Oilers: better player and better trade value.

If he does poorly, well, it's only a one year deal and he'll be off the books by the time they have to sign Hall and Eberle.

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#9 Ales Hallsky
February 10 2012, 03:35PM
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Dammit!!! Now to change my name.

- eric hortilanger? - Lennart Pettreager? - Ryan Jarker? - Cory Potcoff?

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#10 Cru Jones
February 10 2012, 03:36PM
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@Tyler

What's he supposed to say? "No, I hate it here and can't wait to get out"?

Then he eliminates any possibility of staying should the FA waters not be as warm as he expects, and he paints himself as having even more of an attitude problem.

This is the same guy who has said he's been 100% to start the last two seasons. He's not lying, he's just saying the only thing he can say.

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#11 French Toast Mafia
February 10 2012, 03:42PM
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Zero chance that he gets signed short term so we can stop talking about it. Thats not how free agency works and Hemsky is a free agent. He is gone for sure.

Sidenote: Ill be throwing a houseparty the day he gets traded. Feel free to stop by ON

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#12 sloppy joe
February 10 2012, 03:43PM
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If I'm Tambo, I'm offering 2 years, maybe three tops. (Though it would seem that Tambo is offering nothing)

If I'm Hemsky, I'm looking for longer term as injury insurance, and I would accordingly wait out the season to test the UFA market.

You're bang-on, Brownlee. He's on his way out of town, and we're going to get peanuts for him. Hindsight is 20/20 and I'm an admitted armchair GM, but I think this particular asset has been very poorly managed.

It's a shame, as he leaves a big hole in the top 6. Does Omark fill it? Maybe - but that remains a big question mark. It's not going to be filled anytime soon by whoever/whatever we get back for him.

The speculation about his body language is just that. And if it is indicative of him wanting to get the hell out of here, I don't know that I blame him - particularly given the way fans and MSM have thrown him under the bus this year after coming back from major surgery, and after he has plugged away for 6 years on truly terrible teams.

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#13 dawgbone
February 10 2012, 03:45PM
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The problem with trading Hemsky (even with a season as bad as his has been), is that as a 29th place club (and formerly a 2 time 30th place club), you have to replace him to hope to get better.

There's no one in the organizational depth chart who can replace him. So even if you assume the kids have all passed him, you still need quality players elsewhere in the lineup.

And if there's no one in the organization who can replace him, that means you have to go free agent shopping or via the trade route. The only real depth the Oilers have in their system is their 3 (potentially 4 after the draft) young high end forwards, Gagner and then a bunch of 2nd round picks who are tracking okay. There's no real strength to trade from to fill the need at both forward and on the blueline.

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#14 oilerforever
February 10 2012, 03:49PM
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The fans and media are way to quick to jump on a guy on his way out. He had two major shoulder injuries and since his last time back he has been healthy but playing like SH*t. Yes agreed but has Whitney been any better I don't see him being thrown under the bus. And how about RNH two shoulder injuries in his first year didn't even last 1 game back are we all going to throw him under two if comes back and plays poorly? Hemsky is a world talent and I have enjoyed watching him play and if your a GM of worth you can convince a desperate playoff GM that all he needs is a change of scenery and a couple of linemates that are not as slow or offensively challenged as Smyth or Horcoff. He will put up points again.

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#16 Mac962
February 10 2012, 03:57PM
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Here Ales i have some cab fare for you. I for one do not want another season of his crap. Put up or shut up time has come and gone with this guy. YES HEMSKY DIEHARDS- He is a talented top 6 on most teams, i don't deny that, however, he does not want to be here and if he does for crying out loud show it. I just do not know where this guy's head is at like most of us. If you don't like it here say so !! We have dealt Pronger and Peca and Spermanov [ Samsonov] etc and even Lupul [ damn him] Dont play the fans, tell us like it is Ales ! I think this is not the team for you, You need to be somewhere that you are not top 3-4... Wait a minute, that is here ! In short no we cannot risk losing what we have invested in him for nothing, but it is time to move on folks, Life after Ales begins real soon and thank god.

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#18 a lg dubl dubl
February 10 2012, 04:01PM
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I'm still on the side of trading the 1st round pick this yr with Hemsky and if need be Sutton/Peckham or prospect to get a top 3 dman, the Oil have enough prospects to cover this yr and there's always FA to cover any NHL depth on d the team will need.

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#19 knobby
February 10 2012, 04:03PM
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Apart from Hemsky's sketchy health history and offensive numbers I think the other issues that are going to affect the willingness of other teams to do business with the Oilers is their record in trading injuried players.

They probably have a certain shadow over their reputation regarding their trading ethics of oft' injured players. That's like going back to buy a car from the same salesman who sold you a '58 Edsel.

The lack of try and above noted physical pouty posture has really put the Oil over a barrel.

Rottsa Ruck Tammy but those controversial trades sent a very poor message to the rest of the GM's.

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#20 blue31
February 10 2012, 04:06PM
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Ales checked out a long time ago. When that happens to one of my employees, I can't replace him quick enough. No matter how skilled, he fast becomes a negative asset.

Bye bye, Ales. I wish you well. Somewhere else.

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#21 TonyT
February 10 2012, 04:10PM
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I'm of the opinion that Hemsky doesn't want and will not be back, and I can't blame him. If we the fans are tired, imagine how tired 83 is. This is a guy who signed gave up FA years to stay in Edmonton, only to miss the playoffs for going on 6 years. And not just missing the playoffs, (since becoming sellers and trading Ryan Smyth) missing the playoffs with no intention of winning. Not making the playoffs is one thing, but missing the playoffs as the team's best player while being married on the ice to the team's worse contract (Horcoff) is another. Then when the team looks as if it's beginning to turn the corner, to being an afterthought and trade bait for a team you suffered for the last decade.

I'm not absolving him of (his perceived) lack of care, but I as a lifelong who is patient but frustrated at what this team is become, I can hardly blame him for feeling that way.

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#22 Sloppy Joe
February 10 2012, 04:10PM
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This is a bit of a tangent, but the current situation with Hemsky is what infuriates me about the management of this team, and about certain segments of the fanbase.

The time to fish or cut bait with Hemsky was last year at the trade deadline. They should have had a pretty good sense of whether he was still in the plans. If he wansn't in the plans, that was the time to trade him and get some value (he was healthy at the deadline last year).

If he was still in the plans at that time - why not use his injury history to their bargaining advantage and get a deal done then?

Now here we are in a position where he will likely be traded for very minimal return - hence my comment about management infuriating me.

My comment about segments of the fanbase being infuriating is twofold: (a) the bandwagon running him out of town; (b) the Tambellini apologists who will inevitably say, "Tambi got the most he could for him at the deadline this year given the circumstances."

P.S. If Cam Barker gets re-signed (I wouldn't put it past them) I will lose my mind.

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#24 Mitch
February 10 2012, 04:11PM
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Robin I give Hemsky a 1 yr deal at the same money he has now (4.8 or whatever it is not his actual cap hit) with a heavy bonus structure. If Hemsky can be driven by the bonus structure in terms of games played, goals, assists, points etc. I would be willing to have him acheive say 5.5 to 6m a yr.

I would say lets sign him for 3.5-4m but that won't happen. All signs point to Hemsky moving on this year has been a disaster and the two years before that were injury plauged.

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#25 Tyler
February 10 2012, 04:14PM
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Yes, he wants to be here, "but the terms have to be right." That's a big "but"

Stauffer mentioned the other day that Hemsky told him he wants 4 or 5 years at $5.75MM per. Assuming that's a negotiating position and not a bottom line, it doesn't seem to me that the terms he's asking for are outrageous for a player of his stature, even one having a lousy year.

I guess what I'm saying is that if Stauffer has it right, I'm inclined to take Hemsky at his word. I bet it's a hell of a lot more likely that Tambo doesn't want him back.

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#27 Truth
February 10 2012, 04:28PM
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I completely agree he's a gonner, but what kind of deal do you expect he receives in FA?

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#28 magisterrex
February 10 2012, 04:29PM
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For years the Oilers tried to find someone who had chemistry with Ales Hemsky, but no one seemed to fit. Horcoff gets paired with him to make up for Hemsky's oft-brutal defensive game, so it's less of Hemsky being stuck with Horcoff and more of Horcoff being stuck with Hemsky.

Look at the Top Six. Where does Ales fit in? I don't see him as a third line guy. So who can play with him on the top lines?

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#29 a lg dubl dubl
February 10 2012, 04:31PM
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No worries Robin, I understand completely, I admire guys like u who get to write about the Oilers on a daily basis*.

* you have my dream job

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#30 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
February 10 2012, 04:33PM
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a lg dubl dubl wrote:

No worries Robin, I understand completely, I admire guys like u who get to write about the Oilers on a daily basis*.

* you have my dream job

~get off your knees already~

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#31 Tyler
February 10 2012, 04:34PM
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I think it's steep for a player having a lousy year AND coming off two shoulder surgeries when he's not the big cog in the machine he was just two or three seasons ago.

Well, I'm not convinced he won't be a big cog going forward if he were to stay. Time would tell. Nothing wrong with being able to do different things on the PP for example, and Hemsky's a good two way player.

The injuries are the real wild card. None of us have any idea what the expectation is as far as his health coming back. His percentages this year have been so miserable (shooting percentage and on-ice shooting eprcentage) that I'm inclined to believe the numbers are misfortune mixed with recovery from injury.

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#32 Quicksilver ballet
February 10 2012, 04:45PM
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It's good that him and his work ethic are removed from the dressing room. If there's one thing this team needs it has to be an increased level of intensity. Can't expect the players to turn it up a notch during games if they're not doing it in practice.

83 on his way out is a step in the right direction. Another positive step would be to have Horcoff next to be heading out of town. I for one, look forward to Theo Peckham catching 83 with his head down in the not to distant future.

That 10 million dollars could be much better spent going forward. Have to think they've had a negative influence on these kids during this, as well as last season.

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#33 TheOtherJohn
February 10 2012, 04:45PM
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Astonished we got to 2weeks before trade deadline and have not talked to him and his agent. Assuming that is the case, fact that you are talking pennies on the dollar solely rests with management. Moment we decided we had no interest in keeping him long term, move him

Lose/Lose at this point.

Another example of exemplary roster management

But we've got the "Plan"

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#34 steelymac
February 10 2012, 04:47PM
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This is just one more nail in Dithers coffin he has spent the last year assesing the situation and now its going to bite the OIL in the ass.Management or lack there of has barried this team.The reason the OIL have been the worst team in the NHL is because of management and nothing more.Why in the hell Katz has kept this group together is beyond me.If KLowe and Dithers keep there jobs then Katz is not as smart as I thought he was.As Ive said before if Rexal drugs was run like the oilers have been under Lowe he would be a bum living in a cardboard box.Anybody got Katz email?LOL i could only wish.Good luck Hemmer you got a buttload of cash being the top talent in this town I can only wish 3 years down the road we had something to show for your wealth and fame.

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#35 Yourmomthinksimhot
February 10 2012, 04:49PM
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I think the only way you get anything of value for Hemsky is if you package him with another pending FA like a Sutton for example.

By packaging Hemmer with other players it likely makes it easier for another GM to give up a good prospect, because this way they are getting a top 6 forward with a chance to make a difference and a veteran dman that can help with depth on the back end.

This is just my opinion though, maybe wishful thinking.

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#36 a lg dubl dubl
February 10 2012, 04:50PM
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@cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

Lol!

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#37 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 10 2012, 04:59PM
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With all due respect to dreger, the Toronto media was telling us last year that we wouldn't get much for Penner either.

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#38 Puritania
February 10 2012, 05:01PM
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Ales Hallsky wrote:

Dammit!!! Now to change my name.

- eric hortilanger? - Lennart Pettreager? - Ryan Jarker? - Cory Potcoff?

I'm partial to Cory Potcoff. Two thumbs up!

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#39 Smokey
February 10 2012, 05:03PM
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I wish Ales Hemsky all the best. I think we will see a rejuvenated Ales Hemsky somewhere else. At 28 years of age I think he's got more in the tank. He still skates well, its just the confidence and effort that is lacking lately.

I think he's taken a lot of unwarranted blame. He signed here for 6 years and has had to deal with new owners, coaches, inept management, and injuries. Those many years of taking hits from Robyn Rhegier, carrying a team on his back, watching your team crap the bed year after year, and finally the teams shows signs of life and your being shipped outta town. I think Ales does care, and wish him the best. Maybe we did not deserve him all these years.

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#40 Quicksilver ballet
February 10 2012, 05:07PM
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Puritania wrote:

I'm partial to Cory Potcoff. Two thumbs up!

I'll second that vote fer ya Mr. Dog Chow.

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#41 Chuckpuck5000
February 10 2012, 05:14PM
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Ales Hallsky wrote:

Dammit!!! Now to change my name.

- eric hortilanger? - Lennart Pettreager? - Ryan Jarker? - Cory Potcoff?

Ryan Neberle Hallskins

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#42 Ken
February 10 2012, 05:18PM
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Hemsky is not playing well because nobody in the oilers even had the decency to speak to him about an offer.

oilers management has no clue about how to treat an asset.

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#43 Time Travelling Sean
February 10 2012, 05:20PM
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Is it possible to do what Zach Parise did?

Sign him for one year, maybe over-pay seeing as the rooks still have entries, and see what happens?

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#44 Marsha
February 10 2012, 05:21PM
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"I'm not convinced the Oilers are nearly as interested in placating him as they were a couple of years ago."

I think you are right in this case. The Oilers are all about the kids right now and honestly I don't think they give a damn about Hemsky. It'll hurt them in the future when they'll need to replace his points and will need that secondary scoring when the kids hit slumps. Hemsky is an elite player having the worst year of his career and coming off two surgeries. If the Oilers won't at the very least make an offer to him, they deserve to finish last again. Hemsky deserves better. He put up with horrible linemates for a decade. He'll light it up somewhere else!

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#45 TDSM31
February 10 2012, 05:31PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

~get off your knees already~

Really? This coming from the biggest Brownlee cork soaker in the Nation?

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#46 Rama Lama
February 10 2012, 05:42PM
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Trading Hemsky will not give us a first round pick, so the way I see it we have very limited to no options. He will not sign with us, so let's see what he can get in the open market?

I can't see any GM giving us more than a second round pick,( he has so much negative history) so unless we are willing to accept we should stop talking about this player.

Sometimes getting nothing for an asset is what you can expect.......had we traded him last year, we could have maximized our return. Tamby has to wear this......Mr. Dithers screwed us again!

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#47 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 10 2012, 06:01PM
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Tyler wrote:

Yes, he wants to be here, "but the terms have to be right." That's a big "but"

Stauffer mentioned the other day that Hemsky told him he wants 4 or 5 years at $5.75MM per. Assuming that's a negotiating position and not a bottom line, it doesn't seem to me that the terms he's asking for are outrageous for a player of his stature, even one having a lousy year.

I guess what I'm saying is that if Stauffer has it right, I'm inclined to take Hemsky at his word. I bet it's a hell of a lot more likely that Tambo doesn't want him back.

Why to much risk IMO, he could easily play less the 200 games over the next 5 years.

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#48 bazmagoo
February 10 2012, 06:08PM
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I can't see the Oilers making a deal with Hemsky. With the emergence of Gagner, the top 6 forwards are just too small overall. While I personally don't think this is a major issue, I'm guessing Oil management would prefer to have someone bigger, grittier, younger, and cheaper in Ales' spot. Just a hunch.

I'm guessing a late 1st round pick or a B level prospect is what we'll get for him. Pretty sad considering how valuable he used to be.

Let's just hope he doesn't end up ripping it up when he leaves, although he does have the skill to do so.

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#49 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
February 10 2012, 06:09PM
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TDSM31 wrote:

Really? This coming from the biggest Brownlee cork soaker in the Nation?

what can i say, i have a thing for being called a mouth breathing fart catcher

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#50 Stocc
February 10 2012, 06:09PM
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@Tyler

None of us have any idea what the expectation is as far as his health coming back. His percentages this year have been so miserable (shooting percentage and on-ice shooting eprcentage) that I'm inclined to believe the numbers are misfortune mixed with recovery from injury.

With injuries you could argue that every case is unique but with nothing else to go on could you not come up with a list of comparables? I don't know how much info is out there but you could look at guys of a similar age with significant injuries or maybe just shoulder injuries and see how long their careers lasted afterwards, how long they slumped, or how close they eventually came to their former levels of productivity.

I'd agree that Ales could be a very important part of the Oil's future successes. I'd like to think that the potential pros of keeping him around outweigh the potential cons of re-injury or inability to regain form.

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