Ales Hemsky: second thoughts

Edmonton Oilers v Buffalo Sabres

I should know better than to think I can sit on something for even a couple of days as long as Jim Matheson totes a notepad in this town. I got yet another example of why as Matheson offered up a brief but noteworthy item on Ales Hemsky in today’s Hockey World in The Journal.

Matheson wrote:

"Multiple NHL sources say Hemsky, who has two years left on his contract before he can walk away as an unrestricted free agent, gave off some positive vibes at his exit meeting about the direction of the Oilers’ rebuilding job, so the team might want to re-sign him, anyway."

I was told much the same thing from somebody I trust late last week: in essence, Hemsky, who has given off some very negative vibes about his tenure and his future with the Edmonton Oilers in recent seasons, had a very positive chat with Oilers brass during his exit meetings.

That’s significant, no?

Reason to stay?

Based on what I’ve heard and seen from Hemsky in recent seasons, I didn’t have much doubt, any actually, he’d be bolting city limits and not looking back the second his contract is up two seasons from now.

That wasn’t hinged on just one or two off-handed remarks, but on several discussions he had with scribes, including me, over four consecutive seasons out of the playoffs. Beyond the obvious frustration that comes with losing, Hemsky seemed like a profoundly unhappy camper, to me.

Unhappy enough I suggested GM Steve Tambellini should consider trading him — as early as June at the Entry Draft if it would land the Oilers the second overall pick that belongs to Boston — to get the most value for the talented Czech forward rather than have him devalued while awaiting his chance to scram.

At 26, and with a bargain $4.1-million cap hit, Hemsky is Tambellini’s best bargaining chip as he delves into a rebuild. A shot at sweeping both Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall is worth giving up two more years of Hemsky, I argued a couple months ago (without knowing if Peter Chiarelli would laugh or listen).

I don’t know the first thing as far as what exactly was said during Hemsky’s exit meeting, but if Tambellini left the sit-down with the positive feeling I’m led to believe he did, it changes everything.

If you pencil in no. 83…

If, to borrow from Daryl Katz, Hemsky isn’t going anywhere, then what does that change moving forward? Plenty, obviously, starting with what Tambellini does this summer.

With the No. 1 pick in his hip pocket, does Tambellini look to move somebody else of note — Dustin Penner? — to land another top-10 pick? Does he think slightly bigger than that, like top-five, or smaller?

If Hemsky is of the mind to wait and see how this rebuild unfolds and is at least open to re-signing — at a healthy raise — does that change who Tambellini drafts with the No. 1 pick in Los Angeles? Would Hall be the dynamic left winger Hemsky hasn’t had to play with? I don’t know.

What I do know is that if Hemsky really has turned, if he’s sold on what he’s seeing and what Tambellini is pitching, this team is going to look different than it would have otherwise.

We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out because one meeting doesn’t necessarily change everything that led me to believe Hemsky couldn’t wait do get out of Oil Country.

But it’s the first indication I’ve heard in a long, long time that Hemsky doesn’t have one eye on the door.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Hemmertime

    Crash, I like what you’re laying down. Good points. When we bring up the 07 draft, it’s not to say that this one is exactly the same, it’s to point to an example of where CSS was way off in their ranking assessments, and their #2 ranked player turned out to be by far the best player in the draft, bar none. Gagner, the #6 ranked, turned out to be the second best. Agreed with Gagner, lets give the 20 year old a chance to develop into the allstar he is going to be.
    Thanks for the insight Brownlee, interesting turn of events. I would re-sign Hemsky in a heartbeat, he will make a nice compliment to a good, fast, skilled team with Hall on his left and Gags in the center. The HGH line, as I like to call it. We will be hearing a lot about that in the years to come.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Gagner has been the 2nd best to date, but there are guys knocking on the door I.E Perron, JVR, Voracek etc… With that being said I don’t think the Oilers will regret the picking of Gagner, just like I don’t think the 5 teams ahead will regret their picks. Although Thomas Hickey isn’t as good as he once was.

  • Hemmertime

    Let’s give old Katz a chance to make this funding model work. Some combination of ticket tax, plus added property tax for all entertainment district businesses might just pay for this beautiful crown jewel in the Edmonton downtown. Something like that makes for a much prettier downtown than some dumpy parking lot nobody can use, no?

  • stilldrinkingthekoolaid

    With our first pick we need the player that is best suited to help inmmediately , and that will/should be Hall ! We don’t need another 2-3 wait to see if Sequin can develop . We are already waiting on too many already (Eberle, Svensson,etc.), and this years picks beyond our first one will just add to that list . We need a player now , not one down the road . It’s going to be a “Hall” of a year – bank on it . Will Oilers make trade to get 4th pick from Colombus (50-50 )?

    • Seguin isnt a wait and see project. He’s already developed to the point where multiple scouting services rank him higher than Hall. At this point in their careers they are virtually a tie in the eyes of many professional scouts. They put up the same amount of points even. What makes you think that as soon as they put on NHL jerseys one will be significantly better than the other?

      • Hemmertime

        Hall has made his mark by excelling at the highest levels of competition in the junior ranks under constant scrutiny by the opposition . Head to head Hall also proved to be the better one . Sequin has not excelled under near the conditions Hall has and excelled at, and certainly not at top level against the worlds best . Hall has been able to handle it all and still be the best – Sequin has not shown that as yet against top level competition . If he was so good why did he not make Canada’s junior team or excel above Hall in head to head ? As for scouting ratings i disagree ,and have Hall in a class by himself . I can’t say the same for Sequin , simply because i’ve yet to see hm excel in stiff upper competition ! To me it’s a no brainer, and you take the proven commodity and worry about what you may have passed up later . Sequin could not even make junior team this season – now how does that translate him making the Oilers right off the bat ? Sounds to me like a lot of Sequin pushers are buying more hype than anything else . Hall projected to be Hall of Fame material by some , now how do we pass on that projection so easily ? Sequin may have figures this season to match Hall , but all the other areas of the game , and stiffer opposition and scrutiny go to Hall. Sequin is far behind as far as i’m concerned in most other areas(unproven as yet).

  • Hemmertime

    Why don’t we chant Hemsky’s name more at games? It’s very rare, even on beauty plays. I know Smytty was more a work horse and bled for us, but c’mon, show some love. Hell, chants of Comrie were more frequent

      • Hemmertime

        Ya, at least in past seasons when eliminated from playoffs the games still worth watching just for him. This year was painful.

        Hes the 2nd most exciting player to watch after Ov. Maybe 3rd if Malkin is trying