If the Oilers are going to trade a right wing…

Jonathan Willis
March 28 2013 12:00PM

The Oilers have three excellent right wings on the team right now; in terms of depth, no position is stronger. Jordan Eberle, Ales Hemsky and Nail Yakupov are all excellent skill players, and in a perfect world the Oilers would keep all of them. Unfortunately, as the team’s record shows, the Oilers aren’t a perfect team and it seems entirely plausible that they will move one of these players to address problems elsewhere on the roster.

So who goes?

Ales Hemsky

The case to keep him. In terms of value to his team when healthy, Hemsky stands up pretty well on this list. He’s obviously a better NHL’er in the here and now than Nail Yakupov, a 19-year old playing his first season of professional hockey. Despite the widely perceived difference in their talent levels, the version of Hemsky who played for the Oilers from 2005-11 stacks up pretty well against Jordan Eberle, too. Critics happily point to his low goal totals, ignoring the fact that he led the Oilers in scoring for four consecutive years and was often the lone tent pole holding up a flagging offence. To pick the most egregious example, in 2007-08 Hemsky scored just 20 goals but he would have led the team in total points even if he hadn’t scored one. Most of all, though, Hemsky’s perceived trade value is much lower than the other two players on this list: the names available for a package centered on Hemsky aren’t going to compare with the names available for a package centered on Eberle or Yakupov.

The case to trade him. While Hemsky’s past work may be underappreciated, he’s slowed of late. His scoring dropped off last season and his ability to drive shots and scoring chances has dropped off this year. He turns 30 in the summer. Injuries will always be a concern. In terms of salary, his current deal only has a $1 million lower cap hit than Jordan Eberle’s upcoming contract. Put shortly: right now he may not be the player he once was, his bargain contract days are in the past, and he’s on the wrong side of his career curve.

Jordan Eberle

The case to keep him. This is an easy case to make, so there isn’t much point in belabouring it. Eberle is 22 years old and scored 34 goals and 76 points last year. He is beloved in the market (not least by our fine proprietor). He is a very good young player and there isn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t love to have him on the roster.

The case to trade him. Really it starts with the last line of the last paragraph: every team in the league would love to have this player. The trade value of a player like Eberle is extreme; if the Oilers want to add, say, a young number one defenceman to improve the club’s balance Eberle is more likely to land that guy than Hemsky or Yakupov. That’s the biggest single reason an Eberle trade makes some sense. There’s more, though. Eberle is about to get paid ($6 million/year for the next six seasons) and there is still some question about how good he is offensively. A lot went right last year – from personal shooting percentage to on-ice shooting percentage to the matchups he played – and it’s far from certain he can continue to put up the sort of numbers he did last season.

Nail Yakupov

The case to keep him. Yakupov’s raw, but he might end up a franchise player. This is the guy who beat Steve Stamkos rookie records in Sarnia, the guy who out-scored Taylor Hall in their respective draft years prior to injury, and the guy who even ignoring injury looked a lot like Tyler Seguin at the same age. He skates like the wind, might already be the best pure shooter on the team, and doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his willingness and ability to play a physical game (he’s sort of the opposite of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins physically; one is reasonably tall and lanky, the other shorter but solid). Even with the caliber of the young talent on this Oilers’ team, when all of these guys are in their prime Yakupov might end up as the best in the group – he’s that talented. There is a huge amount of risk in trading a player with his physical talents.

The case to trade him. In a word: need. It’s the same case that was made when the question of whether or not to draft Yakupov was asked: do the Oilers really need another young winger, or are they better off addressing another position? Yakupov’s upside makes him an extremely attractive commodity on the trade market, should the Oilers choose to go that route.

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 druds
March 28 2013, 12:07PM
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My fist thought is Hemsky should go, my second thought is that Eberle and Yak should not be on your list.

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#2 smiliegirl15
March 28 2013, 12:09PM
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I think it would kill me as much as Wanye if they traded Eberle.

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#4 LinkfromHyrule
March 28 2013, 12:10PM
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bye bye hemsky...

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#5 Rob...
March 28 2013, 12:13PM
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I wouldn't underestimate the impact that trading Eberle would have on Taylor Hall. If you plan on keeping Hall you need to keep Eberle.

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#6 RexLibris
March 28 2013, 12:13PM
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I think we need to stop looking at Hemsky being the trade that brings back that tough forward or veteran defenseman that the Oilers so desperately need.

What he might bring back are assets that could be matched up with other Oilers assets to bring in that player.

So while Hemsky may no do it alone, perhaps his return contributes to a larger package to interest potential trade partners.

If he isn't traded at the deadline, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Oilers decided to trade him at the draft.

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#7 TigerUnderGlass
March 28 2013, 12:13PM
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Unfortunately the Oiler's waited too long and I assume Subban and OEL are now untouchable.

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#8 TigerUnderGlass
March 28 2013, 12:14PM
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Rob... wrote:

I wouldn't underestimate the impact that trading Eberle would have on Taylor Hall. If you plan on keeping Hall you need to keep Eberle.

This is something I've wondered about as well.

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#9 Steve-O
March 28 2013, 12:15PM
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Why the hell make a panic move and trade any of them? This is insane. Keep all three, let the kids (Eberle, Yak, Hall, RNH) develop, and see what's out there in free agency once the season ends. As is, this team still has a shot at the playoffs in this goofy, strike-shortened season. I'd rather they miss the playoffs this year than dump Hemsky for the slight chance at a playoff spot and an ugly first round exit. I mean, really...

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#10 RexLibris
March 28 2013, 12:15PM
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Imagine for a moment if Steve Tambellini was able to garner an equal or greater return for Hemsky than Feaster was for Iginla.

That would be a nice payback for his "wandering in the desert comments", or the Flames tweet last February mocking the Hemsky re-signing.

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#12 Will
March 28 2013, 12:18PM
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Trading Eberle and Yak seem like a non starter as Tambi has already stated he will not sell the future for short term gains.

I like the cases you make for and against for all three players, but would you not agree it seems most likely to trade Hemmer simply because we have a potentially better right wing, ready to step into his slot on the second line?

I realize we don't get as much beck for Hemmer, but if one of them goes, it has to be him does it not?

Maybe if we were sitting in 6th wanting to make a dramatic run to the cup ala Kings trades last year, but we're not quite there yet. I know the idea of another wait and see year is terrifying, but with another deep draft, and the possibility of Klefbomb helping improve the backend. Maybe the holes that need plugged aren't so great as everyone thinks.

What do you see as reasonable return for Hemmer, both now at the deadline and in the off season? A second round pick? Nathan Horton? A good D prospect from Detroit?

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#13 druds
March 28 2013, 12:18PM
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RexLibris wrote:

I think we need to stop looking at Hemsky being the trade that brings back that tough forward or veteran defenseman that the Oilers so desperately need.

What he might bring back are assets that could be matched up with other Oilers assets to bring in that player.

So while Hemsky may no do it alone, perhaps his return contributes to a larger package to interest potential trade partners.

If he isn't traded at the deadline, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Oilers decided to trade him at the draft.

I agree and Im not wearing rose colored glasses as to who we get for Hemsky, a draft pick, a good prospect...whatever. What the orginization needs to do is continue to move out players who have run past their due date. Hemsky is not and nor has he ever been (except in brief teasing flashes) "THE GUY" so as he moves into the late stages of his career ...let him go.

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#14 Will
March 28 2013, 12:21PM
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On another note, does Iginla to the Pens now increase Hemsky's value. Is there another scoring winger out there potentially on the trade block?

Colorado should be sellers, but what, if anyone would they sell? Stasny maybe?

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#16 Ogie Oilthorpe
March 28 2013, 12:23PM
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Was wondering where Jonathan was all morning.. My pick is still Hemsky (seems pretty unanimous), but it would be nice to get some picks back that we could package up to fill a current roster need.

Jonathan, do you give any creadence to the Whitney Bean Town rumors?

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#17 Will
March 28 2013, 12:24PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

At the deadline, I imagine the return for Hemsky alone being comparable for the return the Oilers got on Dustin Penner.

In the off-season, a trade for a less-talented/more physical winger or a second-pairing defenceman is what I would expect to see.

Wow, that is impressive actually. Now I really want them to trade Hemsky.

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#18 Harlie
March 28 2013, 12:26PM
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Trade everyone not named:

Hall, Eberle, Nuge, Yakupov, JSchultz

That is all!

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#20 CC
March 28 2013, 12:27PM
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I'm a big Hemsky fan and think that if we deal him we are likely going to get the return we should. But from a cap management standpoint it might make the most sense.

I don't see how you can keep all of the above plus Eberle and the #1s; 1. Gagner 5+ million 2. Smid 4 million 3. Horcoff 5.5 million cap hit 4. Hemsky 5 million

I think one of these guys has to go. To me it becomes about who is least valuable to this team and who can get you the best return.

I think this team is more competitive with Horcoff then it is with Hemsky. And I think that Hemsky can get you more return than Horcoff.

With the Bruins as a potential suitor, salary has to come back. But I think you have to take salary for next year. Could a deal with Hemsky/Whitney for Peverley & potentially a 1st round pick or a good prospect be a fit? Not sure if Hemsky & Whitney can fetch the first or if Peverley would waive his NTC to go to Edmonton. But Peverley is the kind of guy we need, versatile can play all three forward positions and can play on 1st, 2nd, 3rd lines. It would free up 1.75 million to be put toward signing Smid.

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#21 Steve-O
March 28 2013, 12:27PM
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A second round pick and/or a mid level-prospect, which is a likely return for Hemmer, that'll accomplish what, exactly? *eye roll*

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#22 HugThePost
March 28 2013, 12:27PM
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I agree with JW; the Yak should be considered untouchable---there is just too much dynamic raw talent and promise oozing out of him to trade him.

If we can get a player for Hemmer, let's do it. His best days are gone, his body is broken and has some hard miles on it and he deserves to win something for all of his toil during some dark dark years here.

Eberle: if he got us something good (ie. a roster player of significance in a position of need), I would do it. I guess I can understand the concern for #4's happiness with his best bud, but how unhappy would Hall be during the summer hanging out with said best bud on a boat somewhere......with the Stanley Cup that the oilers just won? Building a team is about building winner; the priority should not be to make sure everyone's friends are around.

Eberle is a little bit flawed for all of his gifts. He is small and not physical at all, and when he does not have the puck, he is kind of invisible. And this year, he seems to have gotten into this maddening pattern of always looking for the pretty play when all that needs doing sometimes is the puck goes to the net followed by everyone else, sticks swinging and elbows up.

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#23 Horcsky
March 28 2013, 12:28PM
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So we didn't claim Jokinen? Seems like he could have been a useful piece.

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#24 CC
March 28 2013, 12:29PM
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CC wrote:

I'm a big Hemsky fan and think that if we deal him we are likely going to get the return we should. But from a cap management standpoint it might make the most sense.

I don't see how you can keep all of the above plus Eberle and the #1s; 1. Gagner 5+ million 2. Smid 4 million 3. Horcoff 5.5 million cap hit 4. Hemsky 5 million

I think one of these guys has to go. To me it becomes about who is least valuable to this team and who can get you the best return.

I think this team is more competitive with Horcoff then it is with Hemsky. And I think that Hemsky can get you more return than Horcoff.

With the Bruins as a potential suitor, salary has to come back. But I think you have to take salary for next year. Could a deal with Hemsky/Whitney for Peverley & potentially a 1st round pick or a good prospect be a fit? Not sure if Hemsky & Whitney can fetch the first or if Peverley would waive his NTC to go to Edmonton. But Peverley is the kind of guy we need, versatile can play all three forward positions and can play on 1st, 2nd, 3rd lines. It would free up 1.75 million to be put toward signing Smid.

Suppose to say AREN'T LIKELY

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#25 Ducey
March 28 2013, 12:31PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

At the deadline, I imagine the return for Hemsky alone being comparable for the return the Oilers got on Dustin Penner.

In the off-season, a trade for a less-talented/more physical winger or a second-pairing defenceman is what I would expect to see.

I think we see Hemsky as being worth more than what other teams see him being worth.

I would bet most GM's see him as talented but soft and inegmatic.

A few guys like Spector and Rishaug have said the scouts they talk to from other teams don't think he is worth much.

If thats the case, then keep him.

I see no reason to trade any of these three at this time.

When the time does come, its pretty obviously Hemsky.

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#26 oilabroad
March 28 2013, 12:31PM
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I would hate to trade him but if Eberle gets you Hamilton, I make that trade and never look back... It is a bit of a flawed question, as Hemsky doesnt have the value to get us what we need... Agreed with JW, wouldnt trade Yak, way too much upside there

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#27 Will
March 28 2013, 12:33PM
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Horcsky wrote:

So we didn't claim Jokinen? Seems like he could have been a useful piece.

Might have something to do with already having our contract limit, and wanting to try and cash in on the college market.

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#28 Ducey
March 28 2013, 12:38PM
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Horcsky wrote:

So we didn't claim Jokinen? Seems like he could have been a useful piece.

Maybe this year, but the fact he would help underlines the fact this isn't a playoff team.

Next year, his cap hit would be problematic for what he would likely offer.

There is a reason everyone else passed on him.

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#30 Rob...
March 28 2013, 12:39PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Why?

Edit for clarity: I understand the theory that Hall would likely prefer to keep Eberle on the team, but there seems to be a lot of certainty in that comment that Hall would jump ship if the Oilers dealt Eberle, and I don't see such certainty as necessarily warranted.

I'm not suggesting he would jump ship, but given his age I think this would affect him. At the very least there would be an initial sulk, that would probably extend and grow if the player(s) we got for Eberle don't have a quick and noticeable impact.

This is a business, and Hall would understand that. I do think he could accept Eberle being traded, but I don't think that necessarily translates to the same level of intensity on the ice that we are used to after such a trade occurred.

"Edited to remove a double-negative"

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#31 northof51
March 28 2013, 12:39PM
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Oh to be an NHL GM... I'm all for the Oilers doing something, but I like the idea of keeping Ebs, Yak and for that matter, RNH, Hall and J Schultz in the untouchable category.

I recall the Flyers dealing from a position of strength, turning over their forward core to fill their needs. While the Voracek deal has seemingly turned out, the Schenn's aren't towing the load, and unloading JVR looks like a big mistake.

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#32 Mantastic
March 28 2013, 12:44PM
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@Jonathan Willis

would you trade Eberle for Yandle straight up? or would PHX have to throw in something to sweeten the deal?

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#33 The Soup Fascist
March 28 2013, 12:49PM
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There is going to be a REAL logjam at the position once IGGY signs here next summer flashing his shiny new Stanley Cup ring .... ;>)

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#34 Asian on Oilers Nation
March 28 2013, 12:52PM
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I think if Tambellini was to trade Eberle, his asking price would be through the roof. If Ebs was to be traded, it should have been at the 2010 draft to Boston for Toronto's pick that was Tyler Seguin.

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#35 lolhockey
March 28 2013, 12:53PM
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If the plan is to bring in grittier forwards, I think it would be best to keep our grittiest forwards to play with them.

My ranking of our top 6 who I think are capable of playing an edgey, in your face style (most to least):

Hall, Yak, Gags, Ebs, RNH, Hemsky.

RNH is the most untouchable player on this team, imo, so he's not going anywhere. I would shop Hemsky and Ebs first.

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#36 JDP
March 28 2013, 12:56PM
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Its time to realize that we no longer need prospects...we need to fill an IMMEDIATE need. We need value back that fills a role NOW. I really dont think Hemsky can bring back anything solid. A package deal including hemsky....maybe. I also dont see RNH as a first line centre. Too small. Something to think about as well.

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#37 unknown666
March 28 2013, 12:58PM
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i know hemsky has been our best player for quite a while but do you really want to take the risk next year of him either getting injured or not playing well like he has in the past? i would much rather yakupov patrol the second line next year because he hasnt had double shoulder surgery and hes an emotional player. hes th kind of guy who will put somebody through the boards and when he hears the crowd roaring he will put someone else through the boards right after.his intensity is 10X what hemsky can muster up.

nothing wrong with quiet guys but we need some character on this team.

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#38 Wanye
March 28 2013, 01:00PM
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THIS WEBSITE IS GOING TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET! TRADE EBERLE??? BOO BOO BOOOO SHAME ON EVERYONE INVOLVED

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#39 seanjohn
March 28 2013, 01:02PM
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see what you can get for Hemmer at the draft. if our pick is about 10th and everyone we covetted is gone, maybe their's a nice package of a 10th and Hemmer.

As for Ebs and Yak, i wouldn't go there for at least a year (but, if Regier calls and offers Meyer and Ott.. tough call). If, in a year the holes are still gaping, one might have no choice but to offer one of them for a number 1 D or a power foward or a goalie, or 2 players.

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#40 JDP
March 28 2013, 01:06PM
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You guys are all buzzed to think anyone is untouchable. Remember Wayne.

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#41 ghostofberanek
March 28 2013, 01:07PM
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@Mantastic

Eberle for Yandle?? The only D I'm looking at for Eberle on Phoenix is Ekman-Larsson. Hemsky for Yandle I could definitely see though.

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#42 JDP
March 28 2013, 01:08PM
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@Jonathan Willis

I dont see how a low first and a prospect is useful

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#44 Clyde Frog
March 28 2013, 01:15PM
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It just shows how crazy having a plethora of things can impact our perceptions.

The idea that trying to get out of a rebuild we would sell a 1st overall (With amazing pedigree) or a 76 point player to add "grit" is silly.

How many 1st overalls have been available or traded in the past decade?

The analogy that we have the wrong mix and must move super-talent to fix it is flawed. If that's the case, trade away future 1st round picks and non-NHL prospects, you'll probably be able to swing the same deal.

Will anyone look at a trade that offers our 1st and a prospect (Marincin or someone else) for Clarkson and not expect it to go right through? You could probably have him for just a second++...

So why would we trade the best 1st round pick at all?

If the argument is that teams won't give up their top talent unless we give up ours, then I disagree with the premise. Should we not be moving futures and lesser talent for the upgrades with the features we want? You may have to take a hit on one of their attributes (such as age, speed, etc.) but if we keep our current amazing core intact, should they not be able to make up the gap?

I hate Pittsburgh comparisons or the like, but you don't see too many selling young NHL talent for pristine players...

They move futures for NHL players with the skillset and attributes they see a need for; they don't adjust their core or tinker with it. They compliment it and support its deficiencies. I may be crazy, but in my opinion that is the way a team really has view itself to make the leap from 15-7 and get into that 1-6 playoff fight every year.

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#46 They're $hittie
March 28 2013, 01:16PM
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Hemsky, than Eberle.

Why oh Why did they give him 6M. THere would be no discussion of trading him at 5M.

Start buying and signing low instead of high Dumbass.

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#47 JDP
March 28 2013, 01:18PM
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Eberle was a fluke....really was....Smid x2 wouldnt help either.

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#48 Muji
March 28 2013, 01:19PM
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Iginla's return was lacklustre (tho he did exercise his NMC).

Does Tambellini take note and deal Hemsky before next year's trade deadline (e.g. either now or during the summer)?

I think the smart thing would be to deal Hemsky for a top-4 dman during the summer.

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#49 JDP
March 28 2013, 01:20PM
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@Jonathan Willis

But once again its next season. Its always next season. Its been the next season for way too long.

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