A recent poll here on the Nation showed a dead heat among Oilers fans regarding the future of Ales Hemsky. 40% felt he should be re-signed and 37% felt he should be traded.



We have held Ales Hemsky in very high regard for a great many years. We fondly recall when he broke into the league and how quickly he produced in the NHL. We also remember how he put up tremendous numbers in the Cup Run of 2006. He played tough hockey that entire spring and we will never forget the night he decided to single handedly destroy Detroit in Round 1.

We also felt for the guy as the team struggled in the years since. He was playing with Pylon A and Goof XYZ on far too many nights during the prime of his career. And now that his team has three of the top 30 scorers in the NHL – and Taylor Hall – Hemsky’s health and lack of production is a real concern and comes at a time where he too should be lighting the league on fire.

We are about half way to being a tremendous team here in Edmonton Nation. Yet this is clearly a team at a crossroads. On the one hand we have got a squad so deep that MPS is being considered as an AHL candidate.

And yet on the other hand despite all of the early-season-amazing and eye-popping-hattricks and the-Nuge-being-the-next-Steve-Yzerman and Jordan-Eberle-zipping-pucks-into-the-twine-at-will the Oil sit in 10th place.

On the outside looking in.

Perhaps it is due to his inability to stay healthy. Or maybe it is frustration over his diminished role and ice time. Whatever the case may be the Mighty Oilers cannot afford to have Hemsky’s head in the clouds and off the score sheet for much longer.


Because if you haven’t noticed there are glaring holes in the back end of this team. Obvious, glaring holes that any opposing team with functioning rods and cones can see. And the goaltending situation – despite what the stats said earlier in the year – is shaky at best.

You can’t have the forward corps looking so deep that a Grade A fella like MPS gets sent down to the AHL at the same time running the bulk of an AHL defensive corps on the big squad for much longer. Even men riddled with indecision like Steve Tambellini and Co will eventually come to this conclusion.

They need to shore up the back end and Ales Hemsky could find himself on his way out of the City that drafted him back in 2001 if he doesn’t get his head in the game.

Plus Hemsky makes decent coin. Decent coin that is going to be needed in the coming years. Sure Kevin Lowe signed him to a steal of a deal when he signed the 6 year/$24.6 million contract back in 2006. But if he isn’t going to take advantage of the best top 2 lines we have seen here in E-Town in the past decade – he and his 4.1 million dollar contract have to go.

Besides, heavens only knows how much money he will want to re-sign. His cap hit could go up in the coming years and with Hall-Eberle-Nuge coming up for renegotiation in 2014-15 we will need to have about $3 billion in cap space at the ready to get those deals done.


If Hemsky is going to be dangled as trade bait we should refrain from running him out of town. This is a guy who delivered on a lot of meaningless nights and is 10th in all time franchise scoring.

He deserves a tremendous amount of respect from all of us who live and die with the Copper and Blue.

  • The Farmer

    Hemsky has always been a favorite of mine, but it seems he is pouting now about his role. I know the team is saying otherwise, but you don’t have to be a psychiatrist to see his shoulders slump when he doesn’t get a pass, or top unit minutes. Maybe we need to get an asset before it’s too late.

  • Dyckster

    Well said WG, couldn’t agree with you more. The guy has been a warrior, plain and simple. Seems there’s a lot of unjustified “what have you done for me lately” feelings around The Nation.


  • Maybe I’m too much of an optimist, but I think Hemsky will turn the corner in the next few games. He will be on a line with Hall and Horcoff. Horcoff will be good enough in the faceoffs to get possession and I think Hall and Hemsky could be dominant in puck possession in the offensive zone.

    Hall will be flying against Phoenix on Thursday as he will be taking two and half weeks of frustration on the Coyotes while Hemsky will be trying to prove his critics wrong. The line will combine for a couple of goals tomorrow night I think.

  • Puritania

    If Hemsky wants to stay, I’m sure he’ll relate that to management. If he wants to stay, every effort should be made to sign him . . . based on what he has done. Not on what’s happened so far this season. If he wants to stay, I’m sure we’ll see big improvements as the season goes on and significant improvement as soon as he signs the contract.

    If he won’t commit, trade him. He’s probably going to walk anyway.

    I do consider him a valuable asset but not one our offense should be built around. Particularly our power play.

  • friday the FISTeenth

    According to my my most advanced calculating machines you had not typed an article in 21 days. I think the brass at OilersNation are going to fire your sorry a$$ if you keep this up. You must be in bed with that “Twitter” thing instead of your first love here at OilersNation.


  • Long time Hemsky fan. He’s in a slump and the writing is on the wall. He isnt the Oilers’ go to guy anymore, and he isnt the future. That said, he can still pull his season together and play some great hockey.

    I get why people want him gone. It’s not because he’s washed up or talentless. They want him gone because the situation is right and it could make the Oil a better club. He’s a pending UFA with some cache around the league. For the longest time he was the Oil’s only weapon. Hopefully that means he can fetch something decent.

    We all hope it’s for a Dman that can play in the top 3, but that might be dreaming or it might cost more than just 1 rental version of Ales Hemsky. I can see this being done for another Penneresque price: A 1st and a prospect.

    If all Ales gets you on the Trade market is a 1st and a B prospect then by all means let the Oilers try to re-sign him, but when the deadline rolls around they cant afford to have him walk away. So I’ll be fine with that pick and prospect.

  • Finally I see some sensibleness out of a Hemsky discussion. If every player goes through a slump in their career, how can you trade a guy because he isn’t p/g this year…give the guy a break, he’s had some significant injuries (good thing Hall has a guy like Hemsky to mentor him through a shoulder injury). I’d like to re-sign Hemsky, but I don’t know that I’d pay him any more than $4M just based on injuries…that should leave able to sign the young guns to extensions…right?

    Also, I bumped into Jay this weekend at the Pint (SHOTS), and I guess your name is pronounced WAN-YAY, not WAN-EE…good to know.


  • Quicksilver ballet

    Ales Hemsky is another good example of how the “Direction by Committee” management group here in Edmonton continues to struggle. Mr. Dithers has lost a top 6 player and any hope of a decent return as he watches 83 play out the string here and walk for nothing in return at seasons end.

    The Oilers may get a 3rd or 4th rounder (magic beans) for him if they trade his rights 2 weeks prior to July 1st next summer. Management should’ve made this decision for Hemsky long ago.

  • Dyckster

    First to admit i am Anti Hemsky. I applaud what he has done
    in the past basically as you said with Pylons, and i respect him for that.
    But Cry me a River, and i suppose Salary is none of my business but
    ” Come on Man” put out., Quit the Pout, dig in a get after it.
    If you can give us 60-70 points and show tons of desire Ales, hey
    i would love to keep you. You are slick, posses major game changing
    talent but your drive and attitude suck right now. The coin you
    are making won’t be there long if that keeps up.

    You have the talent, you know the game, just bring it Ales please, i can assure you we at Rexall will will STAND and applaud you. Just for
    bringing your game. Fack i’ll be the first to stand and applaud.

  • A-Mc

    I just want this guy to buy into the team defense strategy and help us to start stringing some wins together.

    If he can pull it together, i wish him a long and continued career wearing an Oilers Jersey.

  • My suspicion is that people dont fully recognize the difficulty in racking up points on a lousy team while simultaneously pulling sled a and sled b.

    ~The poor kid could surely sue for abuse at the hands of this organization. ~

    ~destroying himself in an effort to win…. what was he thinking~

  • I’ve had a crapload of shoulder surgery. The problem is twofold:

    First, the ligaments need to be repaired. This is done by reattachment, usually with surgical staples. In theory, once the surgery is done and scar tissue re-grafts the ligament to the bone the repair is actually stronger. (This is what Renney has been saying.)

    Secondly, the joint displacement inevitably involves alot of muscle damage. While they eventually heal, the muscles are subject to ongoing pain for a long time. This is especially true if the joint is subjected to continual impacts, even if technically “healed”. This is why you’re seeing Ales wince as the TV cameras show him coming off the ice after a shift when he’s been hit or taken a shot.

    Problem is, Ales is an aggressive player by nature. He only knows an attacking style. The thing with recurrent shoulder pain is that it is a continual reminder of your injury. As a result, you’re constantly worried about getting re-injured until the pain subsides. This can negatively affect your mental outlook.

    The difference between winning and losing in high-level athletes can often be attributed to the mental “edge” winners possess. In my opinion, Ales has lost his edge. What’s worse is he knows it. As a result he’s over-trying, which is why you’re seeing him attempt more (than usual) suicide dangles into the O-zone, missed shots and thread-the-needle passes. The more he tries, the worse it gets. Every time he fails the negativity increases, which we’re seeing by his body language.

    My bet is Renney knows this and is doing everything possible to put Ales in situations where he can realize success despite the constant pain he’s working through. He’ll (Renney) only put Hemsky on the third line as a last resort, despite the fact that by production that’s the logical place for him to be right now.

    Some athletes can fight through the pain. Others like Hemsky have had so much that the fight is drained out of them. The Oilers dilemma is that when/if Hemsky finally learns to manage the pain, or it eventually subsides (my bet – after next summer), he may very well come back even stronger. Or he may never recover mentally. Should they take the chance and re-sign him or let him walk? If they do re-sign him, what’s his true worth?

    • friday the FISTeenth

      I wonder why no one is hammering Horcoff for his offensive production like they are with Hemsky?

      Since the 2 have been put together they have 7 points combined in 8 games (and 2 assists were on Jones’ EN goal vs CBJ).

      With all of the supposed offensive talent this team has now, it boggles my mind why Horcoff is still put in an offensive role?

      He gets about a minute more PP time than Hemsky (with far better players) yet no one seems to care. His faceoff % is not that big of a factor (for every 100 faceoffs taken, Horcoff wins 9 more than Gagner and 11 more than RNH). Is that really justification to put Horcoff in an offensive role and on the PP?

      The top 6 forwards should be : 4,14,83,89,91,93 (could change up 91 for 94 if 91 can’t produce with those players).

      Horcoff is -7 over the last 8 games. He is not this superhero two-way player that deserves the ice time and opportunity that he is getting. He is a 3rd line role player that should be used in such a role.

      • bazmagoo

        Now that i agree with, the man is all grind, very little offensive talent.
        Not that we don’t need him, he is just no way on this planet a
        top 6 player, unless u need him to take a draw.

        When was the last time Horcoff pulledyou out of your seat ?
        Again, not that we dont need him , he just is a
        poor mans top 6. Top 9 for sure , 6 never.

      • I wonder why no one is hammering Horcoff for his offensive production like they are with Hemsky?

        Because no one expects Horcoff to produce offensive production like the do with Hemsky. You dont get mad at Horcoff because hes in an offensive role. You get mad at Renee for putting him there.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Disclaimer: Stricly for comedic purposes as I love me some Ales.

    You think that pic at the top of the article was taken 5 min before the end of practice?

  • friday the FISTeenth

    How long before Eberle or Hall are wearing the “C” ? Nothing
    against Horcoff but Eberle or Hall need to lead this team.
    I cant wait until the torch is passed. Not that it will make a difference now
    but a young Captain AKA Toews would be sweet.

    Im just babbling….

  • Bucknuck

    anyone else see Sam Gagner sneaking in on the all time assist leader board at #25. Yes, a Twenty two year old is #25 all time on assists in this storied franchise.


  • A-Mc

    Horcoff plays as much as he does because he’s suited to handle the tough minutes. Stick him on a 3rd line with Smyth and Jones if you want but with the ice time he’ll see anyway it essentially makes him a 2nd center.

    I would prefer the line of Horc, Jones and Smyth as i think they are all suited to eachother.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Not so fast….Kimosabe.

        The last two yrs of that deal are pure gold as far as a team trying to get to the cap floor. The human albatros is due only 7 million over the last 2 yrs of that deal. A team could buy themselves a cap hit of 5.5 (11 million total) for the tidy sum of only 7 million. Next season will be Horcoffs last stand as an Edmonton Oiler.

        In 2 yrs the Calgary Flames will snap up Shaun Horcoff in an effort to scramble and get to the salary floor.

        • Travis Dakin

          As golden as they may be, the contract for Horc is a NMC for next year(2012/13) where he gets paid 6.0 mil.

          2013/14 it changes to a NTC where he provides a list of 10 teams he would accept trade too.

          2014/15- there is no NMC or NTC.

          As nice as it may be to think that Horcoff’s contract will be gone after next year, the ball is squarely in his court. I have a hard time thinking that he will have a team needing to acquire a cap floor contract in his list of 10 teams.

          Either he does the team a solid and approves a trade or he won’t be moving until after July 1st 2014.

  • misfit

    I think his most recent injury is causing the bulk of the problems with his production. He looks to be trying to protect himself from further damage this time around than he has in past years after coming back, and his overall game is suffering. Being in a contract year will do that, I’m sure.

    But I will predict that he’ll stay healthy the rest of the year (or if he does go down, it’ll be something non-shoulder related), but his scoring will remain way down. The second half of that prediction is that it’s going to take a full year for him to bounce back, and he’s going to be outstanding next year and beyond.

    I hope he re-signs, but it seems incredibly unlikely his next contract is with the Oilers.

    It’ll be a sad day when he’s finally traded out of town.

  • Hey, I’ve liked Hemsky since he broke into the league but the reality is that he’s nursing a couple of repaired shoulders and something’s different about him on the ice since his return. He looks lost, disengaged and unmotivated– very unlike the player in previous seasons when he was the one carrying the team most nights. Hell, he was the reason why I would trek the whole family into Rexall from Saskatchewan at least once or twice a year to see a game. Now, our family goes because we want to see the kids and we don’t expect Hemsky to be healthy and in the lineup.

    I think that management should be telling Hemsky that he’s a wanted and valued member of the team and that it wants to talk extension, even if it’s only at another year at or around his current salary to give him a chance to show everyone that he can still perform. If a deal can’t get done by the end of January, then I would tell him that he’s too valuable to lose without something coming back to the team. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the team will trade him; only that the team will listen to offers and make a final decision based on what’s being offered and the team’s place in the standings.

  • Not sure why there’s this big assumption that the Oil will need to break the bank to sign Hall (and therefore need to trade Hemsky ASAP). What evidence do we have to suggest that? He’s put up fewer PPG than Hemsky over his pro career and he seems to be extremely injury prone.

    Based on some of the logic I’ve seen thrown around ON regarding Hemsky’s recent injury problems, Hall holds little value if he’s going to be on the IR every 6 months. Right? So where does the big UFA contract come into play?

    ~Let’s trade this Hall bum while he’s still got some value. The Oilers should only hand out contracts to guys who play 82 games a season and don’t hate losing, right?~

    All sarcasm aside, I understand Tambo’s hands might be tied if Hemmer has no interest in staying. I’d just hate to see Ales leave based on a knee jerk reaction over his production (or lack thereof) over the last couple of years. Let’s not forget, he’s just entering the prime of his career. Those type of players are nice to have around when you’re trying to compete for championships.

  • I will say this; It feels like I’ve heard “he’s just in a slump” or “give him a break, he separated his shoulder 4 different times last week. He just needs to get healthy” an AWFUL LOT over the last 4 or 5 seasons.

    I have this friend who’s car breaks down seemingly at least once a month, sometimes more. When the car is working it drives great, and he’s been driving it since he was 16, so he’s very attached to the car. Lot of good times in that car. But at what point does he finally say “It doesn’t make sense for me to keep pumping money into this unreliable car. It’s time for me to move on and look for a different car”?

  • Travis Dakin

    I think that with all we now know about Hemsky’s style of play and injury history it should be fair warning to the Oilers management and coaching staff that the same fate awaits Hall if he doesn’t get his head up and start playing smarter hockey. Hall has shown recklessness beyond anything Hemsky has displayed in his first decade in the NHL.

    Hemsky received most of his hardest hits in the corners from the half boards in to the offensive zone. Not too many people caught him in the train-tracks Scott Stevens-style. Taylor has the habit of putting his head down and trying to beat the D on the rush to the outside. NHL top 4 D are timing him now and backing off. They wait until the corner boards are close and they zero in such as his most recent episode.

    His disability insurance better be paid monthly because if Hall doesn’t smarten up he is going to pay a painful price. His 200 lb body +/- is writing cheques as if he was 240 lbs. His rookie mistakes are going to exact a huge toll. I’m hopeful he plays smarter…and soon.