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.
"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.
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