Let Him Go

Jonathan Willis
June 05 2014 03:32PM

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There aren’t a lot of players in the NHL I enjoy watching more than Ales Hemsky. He’s a sublime talent who can do magic things with the puck, and as he showed following his trade to Ottawa he still has plenty left in the tank. He was a good soldier in Edmonton – he accepted the third line role in 2013-14 and did pretty well in it – and I have no idea what game the people who think he’s soft were watching.

That doesn’t mean he’s going to come back to Edmonton, or even that it’s a good idea in theory.

Hemsky’s Wishes

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Bruce Garrioch, who reported that talks between Hemsky and Ottawa had broken off, had this to say about the player's situation:

[Hemsky] was believed to be looking for a deal in excess of $5.5 million per-season from the club. Sources say the Senators were not prepared to make that kind of offer and there was also concerns he's determined to test the market… A source said part of Hemsky's motivation for moving may be the fact he has played 672 career games since 2002 in Canada. He may want a chance to play in a U.S market with less attention. Hemsky also enjoyed success with Spezza and unless the Senators can't get a trade that fits it's expected that the captain won't be back next season.

There are three things there that make Hemsky-to-Edmonton unlikely:

  • Money. I’m skeptical of the number Garrioch cites, particularly without knowing where the information if coming from, and I’d be surprised if that’s what Hemsky ends up signing for. Even so, his performance in Ottawa has raised his likely price point.
  • Playing in Canada. Again, we’ve got one source here, but after spending most of the last eight seasons enduring the scrutiny that comes with playing for a terrible team in a hockey-mad market it wouldn’t be a surprise if Hemsky wanted to go somewhere a little more tolerant.
  • A top centre. In Ottawa, Hemsky had great success with Jason Spezza. In Edmonton, he played next to Boyd Gordon. With Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov at right wing for the Oilers, Hemsky’s not likely to get the kind of minutes and linemates he can really excel with.

Edmonton’s Needs

Craig MacTavish7

Keeping Hemsky was something that wouldn’t have hurt the Oilers – he’s an actual useful NHL player on a team desperately short of them. But now that he isn’t Edmonton property, the Oilers would have to make the effort to go out and acquire him. The simple fact is they have bigger items on the wish list.

Hemsky, for starters, doesn’t play centre. While I’m not as bullish on the idea that every good NHL team needs to be brimming with fantastic centres (Chicago’s championship depth chart in 2012-13 includes the phenomenal Toews and then a steep, steep drop-off to Michal Handzus in the No. 2 slot) the Oilers could use some real help at the position, and Hemsky doesn’t bring that.

Hemsky also doesn’t bring size. Again, I tend to be more skeptical of the need for size than others – I think a team needs to be able to do all sorts of things, and size is less important than ability – the Oilers look to me like a team that would benefit from some bigger players. Hemsky doesn’t help there.

The Oilers have finite resources, and their needs are two-way centres, good defenceman and two-way wingers (with ideally a bit of size being added in all three cases). I’m all for three scoring lines and offensive creativity throughout the lineup on any team but the dollars and the effort needed to add Hemsky could be more profitably focused elsewhere.

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Hemsky was an awfully good, and often underappreciated player, and he had a great run in Edmonton. But it’s time to let him go.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 vetinari
June 05 2014, 03:37PM
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Loved watching him for years but he looked absolutely rejuvenated in a Senator's uniform and I can't see him playing for another Canadian team unless there was a huge bucket of dollars sitting around for him. He's earned the right to either go to a contender or to find a team where he can be a top line winger, and neither of those are in Edmonton.

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#2 D
June 05 2014, 03:42PM
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I hope he signs with one of the contenders - i.e. New York, LA, Chicago, Boston.

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#3 99
June 05 2014, 03:48PM
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Hope he wins Lord Stanley. He'll need to take a pay cut to play on a contender. I could see Boston being a likely destination.

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#4 99
June 05 2014, 03:49PM
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Boyle's rights traded by Sharks to Islanders for pick

Thursday, 06.05.2014 / 4:03 PM / News

NHL.com

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The San Jose Sharks traded the rights to defenseman Dan Boyle to the New York Islanders on Thursday for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Boyle can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

If Boyle, 37, signs with the Islanders prior to the start of the 2014-15 season, the Islanders will instead send their 2015 fourth-round pick to the Sharks.

In 75 games this season, Boyle had 12 goals and 36 points, and four assists in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games. With the Sharks looking to get younger, general manager Doug Wilson said last month the team would not be offering Boyle a contract.

"I cannot say enough about the kind of guy he is, the player, everything that he brought to the table for us. An ultimate competitor," Wilson said of Boyle. "We're going to go forward transitioning this team to the young players on the back end, but first and foremost there is a great appreciation for Dan."

Boyle spent the past six seasons with the Sharks, and is their all-time leader in goals (68), assists (201) and points (269) by a defenseman; his 431 games are seventh.

In 15 NHL seasons with the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Sharks, Boyle has 144 goals and 561 points in 954 games. He's fourth among active defensemen in goals and points.

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#5 Gordie Wayne
June 05 2014, 03:52PM
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Outside of the defense (which is the biggest problem), the Oilers should be focusing on a #1 C (not bringing back Hemsky). This would allow Nuge to play softer 2nd line minutes and eat up the competition. If all it takes is a boatload of money to get Paul Stastny here, then why not...

He is only 28 years old, is 6 foot 205 pounds (not exactly big but far from small), he is offensively talented and would be a good complement to a lot of our wingers. 458 points in 538 games is pretty good too (with seasons of 79, 78, and 71 points in there too).

Please MacT, make it happen!

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#6 Dicey
June 05 2014, 04:10PM
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Best player this organization had for a decade. They trade him for 2 useless picks. Good asset management.

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#7 Sevenseven
June 05 2014, 04:10PM
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Maybe stastny would sign here for a chance to play with taylor hall.

Stastny Nuge Gags/arco Gordon

Not half bad! Trade gags for a cheaper grinder on the third line you got decent center depth.

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#8 TRAINRECK
June 05 2014, 04:14PM
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Dicey wrote:

Best player this organization had for a decade. They trade him for 2 useless picks. Good asset management.

The man has suffered brutally incompetent management for a decade. As Willis says let him go in peace.

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#9 BlazingSaitls
June 05 2014, 04:34PM
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If You Love Someone, Set Them Free. If They Come Back, Its meant to be :)

I hope he plays far, far away from the Western conference and lights it up. Maybe the Panthers will make some 'bold' moves and trade their pick for a roster player. Then sign Hemsky. They already acquired Luongo and, for all his faults, he is a proven winner in the regular season.

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#10 madjam
June 05 2014, 04:37PM
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Doubt Hemsky would want to come back . Latest rumour has Gagner and another Oiler going to Columbus for two players and picks . Could prove interesting .Whom are they looking at for 2 players from Columbus ? It's on hockeybuzz , but looks like it might have legs .

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#11 Loweblows
June 05 2014, 04:48PM
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@madjam

That website isn't allowed to be mentioned here

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#12 RexHolez
June 05 2014, 04:51PM
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Hope hemsky ends up on a good team. It would sure be nice to cheer for a winning team again and if anyone deserves to play in the playoffs it's gotta be him.

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#13 Spoils
June 05 2014, 04:59PM
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Dicey wrote:

Best player this organization had for a decade. They trade him for 2 useless picks. Good asset management.

Not sure any of our assets would get a fair return right now... maybe Hall and Eberle.

we'd get a bag of pucks for gags right now.

our asset mgt does need help

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#14 mlcselli
June 05 2014, 05:10PM
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I hate knowing we won't have Hemmer, But I love knowing he will have success on another team, and be will truly be appreciated in his new home. I will miss #83.

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#15 OilersDynasty
June 05 2014, 05:10PM
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Only way he's returning is when we become Stanley Cup contenders

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#16 HardBoiledOil
June 05 2014, 05:17PM
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"let him go". that's the problem though, once a player is traded and we still suck, fans seem to want him back. just like over the years people have talked about wanting Stoll back, and Greene back, etc. etc. my gawd, Matt Greene? seriously?? if Regehr was healthy, Greene wouldn't even be playing!

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#17 jake
June 05 2014, 05:19PM
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Should flourish on an eastern conference team.

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#18 ubermiguel
June 05 2014, 05:21PM
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Dicey wrote:

Best player this organization had for a decade. They trade him for 2 useless picks. Good asset management.

He was a soon-to-be-UFA that was absolutely not resigning here. MacT had very little leverage. There are real glaring cases of bad asset management but Hemsky was not one.

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#19 SmythsMullet
June 05 2014, 05:24PM
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I just hope wherever he goes, (not canucks or flames), He lights it up, and gets to the playoffs again

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#20 godot10
June 05 2014, 05:33PM
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He's already gone.

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#21 backup bob
June 05 2014, 05:45PM
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MacT tried to trade him and could not. This was followed by a press conference to announce Hemsky's loyalty and devotion to the Oilers, and how much the Oilers believed in the player going forward. It was ridiculous. The look on Hemsky's face said it all.

He won't be back.

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#22 Rama Lama
June 05 2014, 06:32PM
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Hemsky should have been moved to centre years ago........he has the requisite skill needed, skates like the wind, and like to carry the puck any ways.

These kinds of decisions should be encouraged on the far team where systems are easier to learn. It seems that lot's of teams are encouraging players to be flexible and learn other positions ......we started this with Philip Larsen and he looked very good as a forward.

Being a one-trick pony is not a good strategy if you want a long career in the NHL!

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#23 Oiler Al
June 05 2014, 06:54PM
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Florida might be a good destination for Hemsky. Quite hockey market, and they could use a little flash on the ice.

Don't think he is worth $5.5 million though.Heck, I think the $5 he got from Lowe was a bit of an over pay.

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#24 Oiler Al
June 05 2014, 07:01PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

Hemsky should have been moved to centre years ago........he has the requisite skill needed, skates like the wind, and like to carry the puck any ways.

These kinds of decisions should be encouraged on the far team where systems are easier to learn. It seems that lot's of teams are encouraging players to be flexible and learn other positions ......we started this with Philip Larsen and he looked very good as a forward.

Being a one-trick pony is not a good strategy if you want a long career in the NHL!

Rama, I know this is water under the bridge, but I just had to mention to you, about converting Larsen to a forward! I've seen you mention this a few times. I happen to agree with you, and I too mentioned this a couple of times, once to the tune of about 28 trashes.

He was a terrible D-man but could have played on wing on the third line, second power play unit, had a great shot. I think his size might have worked against him, as team is trying to get bigger.

Anyway its old news but was curious you made mention of it again.

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#25 nuge2nail
June 05 2014, 07:12PM
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Dicey wrote:

Best player this organization had for a decade. They trade him for 2 useless picks. Good asset management.

Oiler Domination To Follow

Those useless picks were traded to Anaheim for Viktor Fasth.

Trading a rental in Hemsky for Fasth is actually a solid hockey trade.

MacT did the best he could given the situation imo.

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#26 Wax Man Riley
June 05 2014, 07:27PM
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Sevenseven wrote:

Maybe stastny would sign here for a chance to play with taylor hall.

Stastny Nuge Gags/arco Gordon

Not half bad! Trade gags for a cheaper grinder on the third line you got decent center depth.

As incompetent as this management team has proven to be, and as terrible as this team is, you hit on something that I think gets lost in the hate:

the chance to play with Taylor Hall, the most productive left wing in the game. I hope nobody forgets this guy is an elite player. Truly elite.

Adding in Ebs and Nuge, who nobody can deny their talent and production in their short careers. For all of the faults and holes on this team, elite talent isn't one of them.

I'm also in a very good mood today, so tak the above with a grain of salt.

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#27 admiralmark
June 05 2014, 08:05PM
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If they are gonna pull out the wallet to break the bank for a player it NEEDS to be a 2nd line C or 1st line Center.. Its gonna take an overpay and lots of it but needs to be done desperately to ease some of the pressure off of RNH.

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#28 oilleak
June 05 2014, 08:17PM
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Trade 2015 First round for paajarvi and berglund

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#29 voom04
June 05 2014, 08:35PM
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I thought it was columbus not stlouis

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#30 madjam
June 05 2014, 08:42PM
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FUN TIME : You choose who you would prefer in draft if Bennett and Draisaitl available at Nbr.3 .

Trash for Bennett , Cheers for Draisaitl .

Calgary Flames Site (blog 12 ) tally has 66 for Bennett and 17 for Draisaitl so far . Will Oiler fans be much different ?

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#31 Zarny
June 06 2014, 12:08AM
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I agree with the Mr. Willis; time to let Hemmer go. It will be interesting to see what he signs for considering how many considered $5M to be an overpay.

IMO Hemmer epitomizes the poor planning of Edmonton's rebuild. He's not perfect, was injury prone and certainly isn't the answer to the Oilers lack of size; but he was good. He was a legit top 6 F with incredible skill and was only 26 y/o when they drafted Taylor Hall.

Considering the Oilers felt they needed the draft to acquire elite skilled players why on earth was the one legitimately skilled player they had not penciled in for the rebuild? And if he isn't part of the plan don't waste his entire prime before trading him.

Brutal.

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#32 K_Mart
June 06 2014, 07:13AM
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He deserved better while he was here. Now that he's gone, he deserves better than the oilers. Our embarrassment of a hockey club doesn't deserve him.

If I were hemsky I'd go to either LA, SJ, NYR, or PITT.

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#33 oilerjed
June 06 2014, 09:13AM
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Just read this article about Burke speaking to the chamber of Commerce in Cowtown. Had one quote that shows he hasnt gotten over the Penner offer sheet: “I will tell you that free agency is not a place where you’re going to get a player that makes a dramatic difference on your team. It used to be that there were three contracts in your career — entry level, then you’d sign a bridge contract, then you’d make the big dough when you got arbitration rights (and closer to unrestricted free agency). Well, thanks to the offer sheet to Dustin Penner, there is no second contract now. Now everyone’s paying the kids coming out of entry-level (deals). So the guys you get on July 1 are spare parts mostly. Or over-the-hill guys who get grossly overpaid in terms of term and money. In a hard-cap system, the killer is term." One offer sheet in 20 years and in his eyes this changed evrything? How much truth is there in this, or is it more ego ranting from a yahoo named Burke?

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#34 Quicksilver ballet
June 06 2014, 09:24AM
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.......zaps Zarny with my handy dandy Shrink Ray gun. Fear not my friend, you shall return to your full size in 72 hrs.

I, along with my Doom agenda (burn it all to the ground and add 18 yr olds till something clicks), win this day. Muwahahahahahaaaa.

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#35 Jay87
June 06 2014, 09:30AM
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With the amount of ragging he got while he was here in the latter bit of his Oilers career, I sincerely doubt he'd ever come back. And I love the guy, I wouldn't want him back on a team that's rebuilding, here or elsewhere. Definitely agree he needs to go to a contender and win himself a cup.

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#36 Quicksilver ballet
June 06 2014, 09:35AM
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Best wishes to Ales this summer.

Nobody was forced to drink more Oiler Kool-Aid than he.

I'd really like to see him sign in Detroit this summer. See his game in a much more structured environment. Hope he still has some good years left to make a difference there.

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#37 Marty
June 07 2014, 05:45AM
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The bottom line for me is the Oil trade off a 30 yr old player who was far from over-the-hill for what. Next to nothing. I'll wager no one but no one, no would have traded Hemsky for that little if the roles were reversed. Free agency pending or not this player proved in Ottawa he wasn't the problem as much as the Oil's longstanding inability to acquire the complimentary pieces to play with Hemsky.

This is why the Oil are considered such a weak organization. Even the Magnificent Bastard has been examined from outside sources for his failure to draft wisely.

How many other Oiler players are going to get moved in future for peanuts because ownership and managers can't see past their noses.

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