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.
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 . . ."
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.