Back to the Future

In the next 12 months or so, we’re going to hear a lot about Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky. Both make north of 4M per season and both will be UFA 2012 summer, and both can create offense on their own. There’s every chance one (or both) will be gone by 2012 

The Oilers are blessed and cursed with two lottery picks (Gagner, Hall) and more on the way–possibly two more by summer 2012. Those entry level contracts aren’t cheap, and Shawn Horcoff’s cap hit will be rolling along too. Tom Gilbert, Ryan Whitney and Nikolai Khabibulin will also be on the books for 2012-13.

It may come down to one or the other.


By The Numbers
  • 06-07 5×5 per 60m: 2.09
  • 07-08 5×5 per 60m: 2.36
  • 08-09 5×5 per 60m: 2.08
  • 09-10 5×5 per 60m: 2.85
By The Numbers
  • 06-07 5×4 per 60m: 5.45
  • 07-08 5×4 per 60m: 5.93
  • 08-09 5×4 per 60m: 5.00
  • 09-10 5×4 per 60m: 4.71

By the numbers, Hemsky is extremely consistent. His EV numbers come on an addled team and his PP numbers are exceptional considering the help. Ales Hemsky is an injury concern and he is not a tremendous player without the puck, but he is a demon with it and has little fear. He creates so much offense (and room) that it is hard to imagine 83 on another team. Then again, I expect a long lineup if Tambellini makes him available. He’s a beauty player.


  • Boxcars: 82gp, 32-31-63
  • Shots: 203
  • Plus Minus: +6
  • Corsi (Rel): 16.8 (1st F)
  • GF/GA ON: 58-48
  • 5×5/60: 2.43 (1st F)
  • 5×4/60: 3.97 (4th F)
  • Quality of Competition: 9th F
  • Quality of Teammates: 3rd F
  • FO Percentage: 47.6% in 420FO’s
  • OZone FO %: 45.4 (toughest F)
  • Cap Hit: $4.25M

Considering the team he played on, this is like looking at Johnny Bench’s 1970 APBA card. The only slight question mark is quality of competition, and that was such a moving target this season you can make a case for disregarding it entirely. His RelCorsi is all world–and doing it with the Edmonton Oilers 09-10 was spectacular.

Late in the season, the Oilers were playing Dallas on PPV. Stars 3, Oilers 0. Penner got the puck down low early in the second period and created a powerplay. The Oilers didn’t score, but kept the puck in the Dallas end for the first time in the game. Later, he caught a break on a turnover at the Edmonton blueline (Cogs sent him away) and he scored on a breakaway. After that, he manhandled two Stars defenders, created another powerplay, but the Oilers never got it because he dished to Pouliot who scored on the play.

That sequence–and the numbers above–tell us Dustin Penner is an above average player. He may end up at center, or on the wing with gifted linemates, but he will be the one carrying the mail.

The Oilers may have to make a choice between these two talents by summer 2012. Or maybe they’ll deal away one of those lottery picks instead. It’s going to be interesting.

  • Stone Hands McOsta


    Great post and a very interesting topic, I could very easily see both Hall and MPS outshining Penner by year end, definitely by 2011-2012 season. Do you think the Oilers will try to get rid of Penner before this happens (perhaps by the end of this season) to salvage some value?

    I think it will be a major struggle to fit either or both of these players into the 2012-2013 Oilers roster, surely Hemsky will command much more then the pay check he is receiving right now.

      • Stone Hands McOsta

        You have a valid point, possibly wishful thinking on my part indeed, I won’t argue that.

        I will point out that we’ve got one good year out of Penner and two prime prospects ready to fill his spot. Remember what one good year did for Horcoff? Can you not see Penner back peddling this year?

        And don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see Hemmer stay, he’s been my favorite Oiler since Dougy Weight departed. But I think it’ll be a tight squeeze, especially if at least 2/3 prospects remotely pull through (don’t forget about Sammy Wonder either).

        • Why would I think Penner would be back peddling this year ? Yes the prospects would have to pull throuh but that has yet to be proven also Sammy is still developing and has yet to proven he will be a top line center. Penner will be considered to play center this year on the top line.If we dump both Hemsky and Penenr at the end of the up coming season we will be a lottory pick again don’t you see that. To bank on players that haven’t even played a NHL game yet seems crazy to me.

          • Stone Hands McOsta

            Penner put up career highs last year on a team that had no other LW to fill first line/PP minutes. Quinn’s next best option was JFJ and look how that panned out. He was left with no choice but to put Pilsbury Penner up there.

            My point is, we have a #1 draft pick who will guaranteed take ice time away from Penner. There is no denying that. Then with the wheels MPS has, Penner will look like a pylon compared to the young fresh legs. Its only a matter of time before he slides down the depth chart. So before that happens, why not dish him off for another pick/asset? Another team surely could use him on the wing.

            IF Penner plays center, that would mean for Horcoff to have another off year, and Gagner to continue flat lining in his progression. (very easily could happen, I know). This would be the only way Penner would be able to fit into the top 6 long term. I can’t see Penner back checking as the first forward back in the defensive zone. The guy doesn’t have the stamina to be a 2-way center, logging big minutes.

            Whats wrong with another lottery pick? Its not like the Oilers have a playoff caliber roster, might as well try get a top 5 pick next year and grab a stud for the back end, while the kids attempt to develop.

  • Renegade

    If we had to choose to keep one, it would be hard to say which one. I would say that if the choice had to be made now, I would keep Hemsky, as he has been consistant. As for Penner, he was great this year, but hasn’t really showed up for the first two seasons before hand.

  • Pajamah

    I like how after the “Phoebe Cates” scandal~ you decided to not use Michael J Fox or Christopher Lloyd for your “Back to the Future” article

    well played LT, well played

    *Take that Eve Stambellini*

  • Crackenbury

    Smid has great numbers for last years team too near Penner for corsi ratings. You think the Oilers are going to need to make one of these decisions on him too? Or is the point production the only determining factor?