Like many others, I believe that Ales Hemsky is very, very close to the end of his time with the Edmonton Oilers. He will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, reports about a contract extension have been somewhere between ‘muted’ and ‘non-existent,’ and if there’s one thing a probable lottery club cannot afford to do it is to allow an asset as valuable as Hemsky to walk away for nothing.
So, assuming that Hemsky is going to be dealt, where will he be going and what should the Oilers be looking at in return?
The answer to the first question was made a little easier when Jim Matheson speculated on possible Hemsky destinations on his blog Oil Spills yesterday. From that post:
I don’t know if the Oilers have engaged in any meaningful dialogue on a new contract with Hemsky, or not. I do know that he would be a prime rental. The Red Wings certainly are looking at him. The Los Angeles Kings need more speed at forward. And, now the Penguins, who are starting to feel the pinch without Sidney Crosby, have lost two of their top six forwards for weeks. They need help, now. I hear they were looking for help on their first two lines, even before Neal, who leads them in goals with 21 and Staal, their most versatile forward with 15 goals and 34 points, got hurt.
If the Oilers trade Hemsky, they may or may not move him to one of the three teams mentioned by Matheson. Those three teams all make sense as possible destinations, however, and it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to look at some of the possible returns from that trio.
The Oilers’ primary need is obviously on the back end, where an emerging defenseman is an obvious target for acquisition. Beyond that, prospects with size that could potentially play a top-six role would undoubtedly be valued, along with the usual collection of draft picks. We’ll keep those criteria in mind as we look at the teams. Our other assumption is that the return is likely to be in the same range as the Oilers received for Penner (a first round pick, a mid-range prospect, and a conditional draft pick).
- D Jakub Kindl (NHL: 32GP – 1G – 7A – 8PTS, +8)
- D Brendan Smith (AHL: 28GP – 5G – 12A – 17PTS, +2)
- F Justin Abdelkader (NHL: 41GP – 4G – 6A – 10PTS, +3)
- F Riley Sheahan (NCAA: 20GP – 7G – 14A – 21PTS)
- F Teemu Pulkkinen (Fin: 32GP – 9G – 13A – 22PTS)
- 2012 first round draft pick (likely in the 25th – 30th overall range)
- Other 2012 draft picks (all likely to be near the end of their respective rounds)
Presumably, the Oilers would be most interested in either Kindl or Smith as the centerpiece of any deal involving Hemsky. Kindl was the Red Wings’ first round selection in the 2005 Draft, and has one year remaining on his entry-level deal after this season. He’s presently a third-pairing defenseman with the Wings. Smith is Detroit’s top defensive prospect, and is presently playing in the AHL, but is expected to make the leap to the majors in the near future.
Other players listed beyond those two include Justin Abdelkader, a 6’1” forward who plays an aggressive game and has scored in college and the minors (his entry level deal expires this summer), Riley Sheahan, the Wings’ first round pick in 2010, and Teemu Pulkkinen, a smallish forward who starred at the recently completed World Juniors and is playing against men in Finland.
Possible offer: Brendan Smith OR Jakub Kindl, first round pick, conditional second round pick. Smith is a better prospect than Colten Teubert (and more likely to play a top-four role in the NHL) but the draft picks are likely to be quite low in each round.
- D Vyacheslav Voynov (NHL: 24GP – 4G – 6A – 10PTS, +2)
- D Alec Martinez (NHL: 22GP – 2G – 0A – 2PTS, -6)
- D Derek Forbort (NCAA: 18GP – 1G – 3A – 4PTS)
- D Jake Muzzin (AHL: 33GP – 3G – 8A – 11PTS, -8)
- F Kyle Clifford (NHL: 42GP – 1G – 4A – 5PTS, -8)
- 2012 first round draft pick (likely around 20th overall)
- Other 2012 draft picks (Los Angeles does not possess a second-round pick in 2012, and their third round pick is a conditional one that may go to Edmonton)
The Kings have been deep in defensive prospects forever, and the most interesting pieces for the Oilers are probably Voynov and Forbort. Voynov’s been a top offensive defenseman in the AHL for ages, and unlike most Russian prospects stuck through a lengthy minor-league apprenticeship before earning NHL duty. Forbort is a two-way defenseman who stands 6’5” tall; he represented Team USA at the last World Juniors and was a first-round pick in 2010. Martinez is a young NHL’er who lit up the minors and performed well last season but has seen his offense slip this year.
Also listed is Kyle Clifford, a tough forward in his second NHL season, and Jake Muzzin, another defensive prospect who has fallen down the Kings’ depth chart a bit.
Possible offer: Vyacheslav Voynov, first round pick, conditional 2013 third round pick OR First round pick, Alec Martinez, 2013 second round pick. Voynov undoubtedly has more value than Martinez right now, although Martinez is a player who value is probably lower than it should be based on his struggles this season.
- D Matt Niskanen (NHL: 39GP – 2G – 13A – 15PTS, +8)
- D Simon Despres (AHL: 25GP – 3G – 4A – 7PTS, +1)
- D Joe Morrow (WHL: 34GP – 11G – 26A – 37PTS, -4)
- D Scott Harrington (OHL: 26GP – 2G – 14A – 16PTS, +20)
- D Robert Bortuzzo (AHL: 12GP – 1G – 2A – 3PTS, +5)
- F Beau Bennett (NCAA: 10GP – 4G – 9A – 13PTS)
- F Eric Tangradi (AHL: 30GP – 14G – 11A – 25PTS, +1)
- 2012 first round draft pick (likely between 15th and 20th overall)
- Other 2012 draft picks (Pittsburgh also owns the Blue Jackets’ fourth round pick in 2012, but there is a complication: the Penguins are hosting the 2012 Draft, and may not want to move their top pick in 2012 as a result.)
The Penguins’ prospect pool is deep on the back end. Joe Morrow was their first round pick last season, a two-way defenseman lighting things up in the WHL, while Simon Despres was a first round pick in 2009 and is nearly ready to jump to the NHL – he’s a high-end defensive defenseman at the AHL level and projects well going forward. Harrington is another prospect worth watching, in the mold of Despres to some extent, and familiar to Oilers fans from his work at the World Juniors on Team Canada.
Matt Niskanen, who the Penguins acquired from Dallas, is a 300+ game NHL veteran at the age of 25, but has largely been a third-pairing option for the Penguins.
Possible offer: Matt Niskanen, Scott Harrington, CBJ’s fourth-round pick in 2012 OR Joe Morrow, 2013 first round pick, CBJ’s fourth-round pick in 2012.
- D Brendan Smith, DET first round pick, conditional DET second round pick
- D Jakub Kindl, DET first round pick, conditional DET second round pick
- D Vyacheslav Voynov, L.A. first round pick, conditional L.A. third round pick
- D Alec Martinez, L.A. first round pick, L.A. 2013 second round pick
- D Matt Niskanen, D Scott Harrington, CBJ fourth round pick
- D Joe Morrow, PIT 2013 first round pick, CBJ fourth round pick
Naturally, this is all speculation, but assuming that the offers listed above are on the table, which one would you take in Steve Tambellini’s shoes? Would you be happy with this sort of return on an Ales Hemsky rental? Chime in below, and feel free to suggest your own trades.