HEMSKY IN LIMBO?

The trade deadline is 24 days away, and so far Ales Hemsky hasn’t heard anything from the Oilers regarding his future with or without the team. How is this possible? Does Steve Tambellini believe that top-six forwards grow on trees, and that it will be easy to replace Hemsky? I hope not, because it is very hard to find proven point producers.

People have been speculating for months about Hemsky. Does he want to be here? Is he happy?

I’m a fan of Hemsky’s abilities as a player. I’ve always liked his fearlessness, his ability to beat defenders one-on-one, and his elite level skill. I’ve always felt he could be even better, if he spent a bit more time after practice working on things, but in my eyes is a bonafide top-six forward, and for years he was the Oilers best player

You’d think they would at least approach him and gauge where is head is at regarding his future with the team.

Hemsky is a simple guy, and he is comfortable in Edmonton. He likes the city, he has lots of friends here and he’s essentially grown into a man in Edmonton. If he really wasn’t happy don’t you think he would have asked for a trade sometime in the past three years when the team was awful, and had no other legitimate offensive threats?

He never did, and now that the Oilers have three young guns coming up, I’d like to think the Oilers would look at the 28-year-old as a part of the future, rather than ship him off for prospect and unproven potential.

It is ridiculous that the Oilers haven’t approached him with anything significant to see if he’d be willing to re-sign. Maybe they will have differing opinions on terms of a new deal, but if the Oilers don’t at least approach him and his agent then they have failed big-time in trying to ensure that this team becomes competitive.

Hemsky didnt’ come out and say it’s a guarantee he would sign here, but he would at least like to hear from management.

Here are some of the things he said earlier on my radio show today.

"The future looks bright now. We have some great young players, but I don’t know what will happen. It’s not in my hands right now. I haven’t really talked to them, and it is up to them to come and talk to me. We have another three weeks, which really isn’t a long time to do something," said Hemsky.

Would you want to stay in Edmonton for another three or four year deal, I asked.

"Of course I would like to stay, but it depends on the terms. I can’t really talk about it because I haven’t seen an offer yet. I like the guys here, I like the city, the fans are great and I have lots of friends here. I’ve always been happy here so I’d like to stay.”’

How do you feel health wise? Are your shoulders finally better, do you think you can be like Marian Gaborik and stay healthy after a few years of injuries?

"I feel like I’m just coming into my prime. I don’t feel like I’m close to retiring, (laughs) I’m only 28 and I have lots of hockey in front of me. It (shoulders) was something I had to fix and there was no other way to do it, and I’m happy I did the surgery. I feel like I’ll be a better player now. Of course it was a struggle with the injuries for a few years, and this year has been a bit of a struggle offensively for me, but I’m feeling much better lately. I’ve had some pretty good years before and I’m confident I’ll be back there again."

Hemsky didnt’ guarantee he’d stay here, but it was clear he would at least like to see an offer from the Oilers. He also was confident that his best years are still ahead of him.

"Whoever gets me, the Oilers or another team, will be getting the best Hemmer yet."

From my vantage point trading Hemsky will be a step backwards for this team. They could likely get a late first round pick for him, but that player won’t be an impact NHLer for at least three years, if ever. Trading away a proven player who is 28 makes no sense to me, but it makes even less sense that the organization hasn’t even spoken to him about an extension.

If that doesn’t change in the next three weeks, and the Oilers end up trading him, then it is fair to say that the organizaton still lacks proper communication skills.

It is very possible the two sides won’t be able to come to an agreement even if they offered him a deal, but to do nothing would be a mistake. It would be a major slap to the face of Hemsky to not even offer him anything reasonable. Maybe he wants four years or more, and maybe the Oilers only want to offer him two, but at least find out exactly what he wants.

If he wants to be here, and you can agree on a reasonable contract why wouldn’t you keep him? Do people honestly think his best days are behind him? I sure don’t.

I repeat proven top-six forwards are hard to find. I know Hemsky is struggling this season, but many guys have had off years, only to rebound the next.

Are the Oilers willing to dispatch a player who feels that is best is yet to come without as much as a contract offer? I sure hope not.

Mr. Tambellini I strongly recommend that you or someone from the organization pick up the phone and talk to Hemsky’s agent. The Oilers have no one in the system who is close to putting up Hemsky-like numbers. I don’t see anyone who you can confidently say is able to be a solid 2nd line right-winger behind Jordan Eberle next season.

Before you trade Hemsky at least find out if you can keep him.

You owe it to him and your fans.

  • Slapshot

    Is it any wonder why no free agents want to come here.This management team is a big part of the problem.Tambellini should have at least sat down with Hemsky and his agent and heard what they had to say,this is a typical case of bad asset management.Souray was right when he complained about the way this team was run and what did we get for him? Tambellini and Renney must go!!!

  • Yourmomthinksimhot

    Great article Jason, yet another reason that we as Tambellini haters can add to the pile of inexcusable dealings.

    Id love to use this as fuel for the “Tambellini is useless” debate, but is there really a debate of how moronic this guy is anymore?

  • Toro

    I never even wanted the Oilers to trade Hemsky he is a point a game player when healthy the key word is when he is healthy which doesn’t seem to be too often but hopefully with the surgery he can regain what he used to be and stay healthy enough to make a difference , and I don’t think we will get back anything but prospects and we have enough of those you need some veterans

  • DieHard

    I like well constructed sentences and paragraphs. It’s easier to read and understand your point. Also, I don’t mind a few spelling errors but damnit, it’s garnet not gaber.

  • DieHard

    Gregor, I’m sure Tambellini is taking heed of your strong suggestions, what with all your experience in managing hockey clubs. Speculate and state your opinion all you want. It’s your job, afterall. But if you knew better than Tambi you wouldn’t be pissing around on the radio.

  • Lowetide

    Great article, Jason. Completely agree. Time to stop dealing useful players for picks and prospects and retain skill.

    Hemsky is not a shrinking violet, he is very skilled and this season’s down numbers perhaps means a better (for the Oilers) cap number.

    Winning organizations retain their own best players. 83 is certainly worth at least a conversation.

    • Wanyes bastard child

      I agree as well, just have to remember, haters gonna hate eh. Such is the life of a fickle sports fan. Me, I just love me some Oilers hockey, win or lose I will always be here cheering on whatever team is on the ice 🙂

  • We were listening to the radio in the office today and had to turn it off, the Hemsky love in was offbase, overblown, and over the line. It was a ridiculous display.

    Rishaug and more so Spec had it dead on.

    Hemsky isn’t having a bad year, a bad year implies effort and a lot of snakebites. It is understandable. Belanger is having a bad year.

    Hemsky isn’t making the effort, he’s giving up on plays, and he’s looking like a quitter. Outwardly, he’s got a bad attitude and you can’t have it in the room.

  • Mumbai Max

    Wow. Such anger and certainty where there clearly is no certainty. We will never know for sure what the club thinks or has done because they may/do have their own agenda. We will never know for sure what the player thinks, or has done, because he may/does have his own agenda. Surely we have all been following sports long enough to understand this.

    This post has the ring of proving a point against management at all costs.

    I love the talent level of Hemsky. At the same time he is regularly injured, often inconistent and will make 5 mill plus on his next contract. Basta. The cap is going to be the big enemy at some poing in this re-build, and I would rather give that big of chunch of cap space to a stud deffenceman than an inconsistent regularly injured forward.

    So, I think we need to relax. Trading players and shifting sands is the name of the game. Seldom is management truly brilliant or truly awful. Luck and invariables make up too much of the game.

    I vote for keeping Gagner (always have), and letting Mr Hemsky rehab somewhere else. He will always have a spot as a major part of the Oilers, including 2006, but now is the time to part.

  • Mumbai Max

    I guess a lot also depends on what other teams are offering for Hemsky, but considering that his contract expires at the end of this season and not the next, it is fair to assume the trade return for Hemsky would be much lower than the Penner deal.

    Signing Hemsky to a medium-term deal could also signal to the rest of the league that: yes, a talented 28-year old actually wants to play here! This could help Tambo sign someone better than Barker next summer.

    So I’m all for resigning him. I’m willing to put up with the Omark fanboys whining about how little Linus isn’t getting a fair shot if it means we can keep a proven player who produces at the NHL level.

    • Mumbai Max

      If he DID produce at the level of a 1st or 2nd line proven 5 million dollar player i would agree with you. But try as we might to prove the point with numbers, exept for PARTs of a couple of seasons, he has not done that. I cannot see why it is reasonable to expect that he will now, after two major injuries. That is not usually the way things work out.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        If he DID produce at the level of a 1st or 2nd line proven 5 million dollar player i would agree with you. But try as we might to prove the point with numbers, exept for PARTs of a couple of seasons, he has not done that

        OK… you’re done. People have tried this line before. They feel the weakness of their argument so they try and fudge the numbers or play at being unaware of how many points NHL players typically score.

        “exept for PARTs of a couple of seasons, he has not done that”

        Based on what?? Here are two measures to prove how completely ridiculously wrong you are.

        1) Since the lockout (excluding this year), ie. from 2006-2011 of the players who have played 300+ games Hemsky is 27th in the league in PPG scoring at .92!! 27th!!! Twenty effing Seventh!! And that’s not a one off that’s over a span of years, i.e., not PARTS of a COUPLE of seasons.

        Only someone serially unaware of what it takes to score in the NHL and what actual NHL numbers look like would discount that.

        (As a point of reference last year 614 players in general and 400 forwards played at least 30 games in the NHL)

        2) Let’s look at his career in total since draft and compare him to the people drafted in the years around him to gage what fans should expect of a 13th overall pick from 2001. (I’ve posted this before and it is only up to date to earlier this season when I originally posted it:

        Hemsky Reality Check

        First, he was drafted 2001 but let’s do some comparisons: head-to-head boxcars Hemsky vs 2001-2003 draft pics.

        NB: I’ve only included those with 350 points or more. I listed draft position and year. Obviously Games Played affects this list in terms of Points Per… but given Hemsky’s injuries it balances out for the most part.

        Kovalchuk – 720 374-342-716 (draft 1st 2001)

        Spezza – 550 201-354-555 (draft 2nd 2001)

        Staal – 586 231-285-516 (Draft 2nd 2003)

        Nash – 616 266-239-505 (draft 1st 2002)

        Getzlaf 454 131-303-434 (draft 19th 2003)

        Vanek 493 216-197-413 (draft 5th 2003)

        Hemsky 504 116-287-403 (draft 13th 2001)

        Roy 493 150-249-399 (draft 32nd 2001)

        Cammalleri 516 182-213-395 (draft 49 2001)

        Perry 474 179-211-390 (draft 28th 2003)

        Pominville 483 154-230-384 (draft 55th (2001)

        Richards 477 144-225-369 (draft 24th 2003)

        Horton 525 174-190-364 (draft 3rd 2003)

        Semin 414 181-183-364 (draft 13th 2002)

        Wiess – 581 132-224-356 (draft 4th 2001)

        Bergeron 479 126-228-354 (draft 45th 2003)

        Parise 443 169-185-354 (draft 17th 2003)

        Carter 475 184-167-351 (draft 11th 2003)

        It’s nice to see that list. Hemsky is pretty high among a pretty elite list of players there. He is 7th in production and excepting Getzlaf (behind him at 19th and Vanek ahead of him at 5th) all those are either 1st or 2nd overall pics ahead of him.

        2001 and 2003 were deep years for forwards and Hemsky has produced and he’s got the career numbers to prove it. He has fulfilled his 13th overall billing.

        **So since the lockout he’s out-produced the vast majority of NHL forwards by a huge margin. And when compared with the ELITES clustered around his draft years he rates HIGHER than his draft pedigree suggests and ranks alongside the NHL’s elite.

        [H/T to melanchoyculkin to pointing out the first point in another thread. Go here and type in the data to check my work: http://www.hockey-reference.com/play-index/psl_finder.cgi ]

        • Mumbai Max

          Thanks for this. I’m so tired of people complaining that Hemsky isn’t good enough because he doesn’t get 90pts/season. People have seriously flawed views of what a top 6 fwd is is expected to produce and how hard they are to come by.

          Last year the Bruins won the cup with nobody having more than 62pts. I guess their whole team was washed up and not producing.

        • A-Mc

          There are two sides to this and The part I don’t think you’re acknowledging is that regardless of how good a player is, if they aren’t in the line up, they do the team no good.

          In the last 3 years Hemsky has played 43.5% of Oiler games. That’s 107/246 games. He got 84pts in those 107 games. Looking at the pts/game, he is doing great. But if you look at 84pts over 3 seasons, that’s not worth the price tag.

          Let’s look at samwise:
          180/246 games played.
          113pts over that period.

          Sam is much lower pts/game BUT HE IS THERE! He has played almost an Entire season more than hemsky has in the same time frame. This counts for a lot!

          If I were a gm looking to bring either guy into my line up, Sam is way ahead for even more reasons than I’ve mentioned here.

          Point is, you can’t look at it only from the perspective of the player an how they’ve played when they do play. You need to look at it from the perspective of the team. What does this player do for us over an 82 game season and is that worth the price?

  • Bucknuck

    I don’t know if I am jumping on this particular bandwagon. While I am no big fan of Tambellini, it seems to me waiting isn’t a particularly bad tactic in some respects.

    If Hemsky plays terribly down the stretch then he may be able to be signed for less money. If he plays superbly then his trade value goes way up and the offers start rolling in so having him extended might have been a bad move.

    Perhaps they are not sure if they want to keep Hemsky or not and we know how Mr. Dithers likes to assess.

    Although I would say that he should start putting some offers on the table and see what the reaction is before trading him for some up and comers.

  • melancholyculkin

    Do people really believe Linus Omark is as good a player as Ales Hemsky? I freaking love Linus Omark, but not even I’m crazy enough to believe that.

  • melancholyculkin

    we wonder why players don’t want to come here!Would anyone have even thought of trading hemsky last year?he’s been one of our best & been waiting for talent to play with & when it gets here we don’t need him anymore?he’s watched players like horc and penner make more $ than him while he’s the one helpin them get the points!the oilers will never shake the bad rep if they keep doing stuff like this to the guys that actually do like playing here & like edm!!!I’ve never heard hemsky complain!he’s given his best and I believe he will get over a poor year!how could & why would the teams management not show some respect too a player that has done his best here!doesn’t mean they sighn him, but at least show enouph courtesy to see where he’s at and what he’s looking for!not say nothing & just trade him away!doing so would show no class what so ever!!!would prove Sheldon wasn’t so far off base afterall!

  • Mumbai Max

    so, if he wants to sign here, why is waiting till after the trade deadline so impossible? you’re afraid his feelings will be hurt and then will not sign, correct? Gregor, you keep saying he’s so proven. He’s proven he can get almost a point-per-game on a garbage team inwhich he gets all the sugar time. He is never getting the top dog role on this team again, which means… wait for it… he’s never going to be a point-per-game player again (except for a the odd short streak). you keep pointing to Gaborik. One example, and Gaborik was a superstar, not a solid firstline player. Steve Conroy was a solid firsline player, too. Brendan Morrison, Jason Blake… all guys who looked better than were because the were in situation where they could look good. I don’t think waiting is such a big risk.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I don’t get how the measuring stick for Hemsky being a valuable piece on this team is PPG… Consistently in this thread people are questioning his ability to produce at PPG levels.

      Last year in the NHL there were 7 PPG players. SEVEN. Are we saying that if he isn’t in the top 7 in the league he has no place on this team? That would be an awesome problem, but I seriously doubt we have secondary scoring that merits us holding 2nd line players to PPG or bust standards.

    • Wow…comparing Brendan Morrison to Hemsky? Really? Perhaps you may have never heard of Naslund or Bertuzzi, but Morrison centered two of the best players in the league for a handful of seasons…that is why he was a solid first line guy. Who has Hemsky played with that is even close to the pedigree of those two players??

    • Jason Gregor

      Again, who said he had to be a PPG player. 60 points would be great and make him a top 50 scorer. Not sure why you think he needs to be an 80 point player. IF he was he’d be a $6 million or more cap hit.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    This is the type of dis-connect that seems to be Tamby’s style as a GM. How would he like to be left to spin in the wind. Tamby has to know the other players on this team are watching how he and Lowe are treating veterans like Hemsky/Souray?

    Not exactly a warm and inclusive tack to take. His man-management skills may need some work.

  • Most people think this is a no brainer, I am not so sure. I am not sure if qualifying offer rules work in this case. If so then at minimum you have to give Hemsky $5 mil per year.

    A player usually busts his backside to prove his worth in his contract year. What is Hemsky telling you this year?

    With cap space being a premium, how much do you tie up and for how long? We know we will have our new core to look after in the not to distant future. What Eberle and Hall are telling me is crystal clear – They want to be here and they want to win.

    The big questions to assess are:
    1) Has Hemsky fully healed or is this a player with long term injury problems.

    2) Is his work ethic questionable? He seems to have given up on his team several times this season. He has oftem seemed disinterested. Is this attitude or health. Does anyone really know?

    So how much cap space do I want to commit and for how long? I think I would be watching Hemsky to answer those questions until the answer was crytal clear which maybe means at the last possible moment. If I had to decide today I think I would be shipping him out.

    • He’s a UFA. There are no qualifying offers.

      I’m horrified to find out that there haven’t at least been some discussions between management and his agent. If he doesn’t want to be here and wants out then you have to move him to get something for him. Not even kicking the tires on this is yet another example of the failures of this management group.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I think Hemmer should watch some game tape, And then ask, why? At this point he is barely playable and not at all tradeable. All downside, no upside.

  • Reality Check to the head

    I cannot agree with Gregor more. Hemsky has been a class act from watching and learning from the press box in the early stages of his career, to going to the stanley cup final, living through the lean years and finally, adjusting to the new role he will have to play for the Oilers.

    When is Edmonton going to learn that we need to keep the players that like playing in Edmonton. There are not alot of top 6 forwards that want to play here.

    Hemsky is an assest that the organization has developed and nutured. I say sign Hemsky now, because he is healthy (probably), in a slump with a proven track record (may be cheaper) and just because you sign him does not mean you cant trade him later if it isnt working out.

  • Ned Braden

    I agree with all the posts stating that Hemsky is a top 6 forward and he will be hard to replace but everyone keeps missing the main point…

    What do you sign him for. If Hemsky will take a 3/$9 million dollar deal sure I would resign him. If he wants a 5 year/$20 million dollar deal I don’t think I would.

    That is the bigger question what is he worth and what will he accept. A question that I believe the Oilers have asked and answered.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      That is the bigger question what is he worth and what will he accept.

      I completely agree with this… this is precisely why I’ve been wondering on these threads why we haven’t heard anything from anywhere about attempts to re-sign and all we hear about are trade rumors.

      Now ST is tight-lipped. But it sure was fishy to hear nothing. Which leads to this:

      A question that I believe the Oilers have asked and answered.

      I completely disagree with this. Hemsky flat out said he’s heard next to nothing and the Oilers confirmed that to Gregor… so how can you say that this question of what it would take to get a deal done has been “asked and answered”??

      It seems much more like, ST hasn’t bothered to ask at all – the reason as to why completely escapes me. The only answer I’ve heard so far is Spec’s speculation on Gregor’s show that ST is waiting to try and deal him as his first option – ie. to take a loss.

      I don’t see how that makes sense as a first option… but let’s say it is. That still doesn’t answer Gregor’s question to Spec… what if you can’t deal him by the deadline? how likely are you to sign him in that situation…

      LESS (obviously)!! In which case you come pretty close to the edge of the worst case scenario – losing him for nothing.

      If ST doesn’t attempt to find out what a deal might look like to see if it fits with the OIler’s vision of the future… that is a GM crime.

      If Hemsky gets traded for pennies on the dollar that is a GM crime.

      If Hemsky gets lost to free agency with nothing in return (which becomes more likely the longer ST waits to work out a deal, or at least make an overture) that is GM Treason.

    • Reality Check to the head

      I have argued this same point

      For $5mm he would only get a one year deal – maybe and that’s going to be his trade off. If I was Tambo I’d say give us 65G and 60 pts and a +/- of + something at $5mm and you’ve got a deal for one year. Sure that’s nice to say but at least he’ll know what is expected of him.

      Right now I think he thinks he has to be an 80-90 pt guy – hence the attitude when he doesn’t get first PP unit and first line mins. We don’t want or need Kovalchuk or Stamkos type #s Ales. And when he plays that way you only get 40G from him and 10 of those are sub-par efforts as he gets in game shape and is only at 70 or 80 percent.

  • Chris.

    I thought we were revamping this organization. I thought we were drafting and developing our own players. I thought with our new ownership and with the salary cap we were going to retain the good players that we drafted and developed. I thought we were going to build a deep organization.

    I guess I thought we were going to at least try to sign Ales Hemsky. *sigh*

  • Travis Dakin

    Trading him is one they CAN’T possibly win. They would just be trading him for the sake or trading him…. And to prove that they really DON’T have a clue what they are doing with this team.

    It’s all fine and good to say you’re rebuilding and let the team suck and wait for the picks to come in… But if you have any plan of winning in the next few years, you do not trade Ales Hemsky. (unless he refuses to sign, but there is no way he would refuse, knowing how good this team might be.)

  • A-Mc

    Jason,
    Is it completely out To lunch to think that maybe hemsky would do a 1 year deal to prove his worth to the team, maybe a 2 year? Or is he signing for 4+ years if he signs anywhere.

    I would just hate for the oilers to make another horc-like signing (long and expensive) if hemsky somehow tanks for what ever reason.

  • Rogue

    I realize and acknowledge Hems skill and talent. It is not replaceable from within the system, at least on a normal year. But I agree with Spector, you can not let him go to free agency and risk losing him for nothing.

    Also, this team needs more size on the first 2 lines. Someone has to go. If Gagner is the 2nd line center, now or future, 2 wingers with size need to be added to the mix along with a top 4 d man.

    Hemsky could be part of the solution in that respect.