Hemsky Done For The Season

The Edmonton Oilers received more good news for their lottery hopes another blow Tuesday, as it was announced that star forward Ales Hemsky would have surgery on a labrum tear and would not play again in 2010-11.

It’s the latest season-ender in what has been a shocking wave of injuries for the team. The top end of the forward corps has been decimated by season-ending injuries to Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and now Ales Hemsky, but the situation has been exacerbated by further injuries to Shawn Horcoff, Gilbert Brule, and Jean-Francois Jacques.

Fans used to wonder if Andrew Cogliano really deserved his spot between the star rookie duo of Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall; now the only question is how many minutes Cogliano and Eberle can soak up as they cover for players who have gone down.

Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark, skill wingers who have spent much of the year in the bottom-six, are suddenly key offensive weapons but suddenly lack a decent offensive centre. Gagner’s out for the season, Horcoff’s out for at least a week, Brule’s out indefinitely, and suddenly the second-line spot is a battle between the likes of Colin Fraser, Liam Reddox, or a call-up (perhaps Brad Moran).

As bad as the injuries have been of late, it’s hard to think of a better time for the Oilers to be stricken. Standings points are worse than useless now, so they don’t need the help on the ice. It gives the team a chance to put players like Paajarvi and Omark into heavy minutes, and it gives them a chance to see AHL call-ups like Teemu Hartikainen in the NHL.

Most importantly, there’s no incentive for the team to keep battered regulars in the line-up; they can get needed surgeries and recuperate over the summer. These aren’t bad things, on the whole (although the Oilers’ AHL affiliate may disagree).

Still, it’s hard to watch.