HOW BAD IS IT?

Ales Hemsky’s 11-12 season has been poor compared to his own past. The skilled Czech winger is playing a lesser role on a team that finally offers players of his skill level and beyond. Hemsky is in trade rumors daily, but from what we hear NHL teams are more interested in Ryan Smyth, Sam Gagner and others. How far has Ales Hemsky fallen?

Ales Hemsky is still a young player by any reasonable standard and could be part of Edmonton’s on ice future. The Oilers management group may have other ideas; there may be pressure to deal him because other contracts will take up so much cap space that even a good Hemsky deal would put the team too close to the 2015, 2016 and 2017 caps.

At 28 years old, Hemsky has played in 500 regular season games and had a strong post-season in his second trip to the playoffs. At almost any other point in his career, news that 83 was on the trade block would be met with a lot of strong offers. It appears as though there is interest but a bidding war is a distant bell.

HOW FAR IS HE OFF THE PACE?

On the powerplay this season, Hemsky is delivering as always but is playing less. This is predictable, since the Oilers have added so many splendid offensive talents via the draft since 2008. Hemsky is a very good PP option, but you’d have a hard time arguing he is the key to the success of the 5×4 this season.

The difficulty for Hemsky comes at even strength. The club is still giving him over 14 minutes a night at evens, but his offensive output is about half what we would come to expect based on past seasons. He has been injured and is facing the tough opposition, but those things have been true in past seasons and 83 delivered miles beyond current rates.

WHAT’S THE TROUBLE, BUB?

Hemsky has played at various times with kids Hall and RNH, but for a lot of this season he (along with Horcoff, Smyth and Jones) has been asked to face tough opposition. Although the offensive results aren’t there, his CorsiREL is solid:

CorsiRel gives us the individual player’s Corsi number relative to his team when he isn’t on the ice. The puck is heading in the right direction very often when Taylor Hall is on the ice, not so much when our friend Lennart Petrell is out there at even strength. This graph is courtesy behind the net, the source for advanced stats.

So, Hemsky’s 5×5 scoring rates are way down, but his CorsiRel is fine. What the hell? Making things even more difficult, the opponent save percentage when he’s on the ice isn’t outside the ordinary.

All systems go, puck in the right direction and an established, skilled veteran a big part of it? That’s a very good arrow for an NHL team. Or it should be.

WHAT’S THE CONCLUSION?

I don’t have an easy answer for Hemsky’s low scoring rates at even strength. He is coming back from injury, but things like CorsiRel suggest the puck is moving in the right direction. We know he is playing tough opponents, and we know that his center forever (Shawn Horcoff) isn’t exactly an offensive monster. Still, as mentioned, he’s done great things in the same circumstances in the past.

I’m left with recovering from injury, poor luck and perhaps a loss of confidence in the scoring zones as explanations.

 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

These are the quality of competition numbers through 50 games:

The kids are moving up the list–a note here to mention that Hall is just a beast, an absolute beast–with increasing toughness of opposition and still delivering an out of this world CorsiRel. Crazy. If Hemsky were signed for another couple of seasons, I’d be tempted to suggest they run a Smyth-Hemsky duo against the soft parade for a few games to get the group going. Smyth and Hemsky did post some offense last night so maybe it’s a case of hitting line drives for a week before they start finding holes in the defense. Hemsky has been more productive over the last several games and perhaps his even strength number will improve to his established levels.

Bottom line: Ales Hemsky is a very good bet for any NHL team moving forward. The current slump is going to cost him money and probably means less return for the Edmonton Oilers at the deadline, but once in his new town I’d expect plenty of offense from 83.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    This isn’t rocket science. You hit the nail on the head. He’s been playing with Horcoff forever. That would makes Gretzky’s corsi,plus/ minus and record book a lot thinner than it is.

    Put Hemmer out there with Smyth & Lander in the middle. Put Horcoff on the 4th line. Get him the F*#k off the PP. Let him get LESS icetime than the kids-maybe his time out there will be more fruitful (although I for one would not hold my breath.)

    Regardless, I personally think Hemsky wants to test free agency and we’ll only get a 2nd rounder for him given his output. Having to play with Horc’s for that long, I can’t blame him!!

  • Time Travelling Sean

    Imo NTC= pay cut.

    Hemmer is having a confidence crisis, maybe no defined role on this team moving forward, maybe he is feeling the pressure to produce and it isn’t happening.

  • Clyde Frog

    Hemsky is a lost asset right now. The only trade you might get is a second rounder [ if your lucky] HE is a UFA, and can control where he can play beyond the Oilers. Teams in the hunt for play- off run want two way players , which Hemsky is not, so they are not about give you much in a trade for an iffy rental. His value seems high only in Edmonton. The ” dangle” party is over.. He’s not a goal scorer and now he wont pass, so he’s not a real playmaker. He dosent backcheck that well and his fight on the boards is not that great. The play dies with him very often.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    “I’m left with recovering from injury, poor luck and perhaps a loss of confidence in the scoring zones as explanations.”

    And also he’s in a UFA year, gets asked and rumoured about trades every day and doesn’t know where he will be living in a month…

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Hemsky remains a problem for the Oil management. What is the right move? Is he a good player just in a slump with several productive years ahead of him. Or have the numerous injuries taken it’s toll and he just can’t do it like he used to? Maybe he’s had enough of the wrong end of big checks and won’t push his game to that point any more (give or take a hit vs Detroit).

    I think we are seeing the contrast bewteen “great” players” and “good players” as we see the likes of Eberle and Hall developing now vs Hemsky over the last decade. Hall and Eberle have the ability, at a very young age, to make the players around them better (i.e. Gagner going from struggling to red hot in 2 periods).

  • Joffrey Lupul’s No-Trade Clause, courtesy CapGeek:

    NTC (starting July 1, 2010, Lupul can list six teams he will not accept a trade to; if his team misses the playoffs, he can be traded from the end of that season to the next trade deadline without restriction)

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Since this article is about Hemsky, I’ll start with a comment about him. I’ve been on the fence about whether he should stay or go. For so long he was the only thing worth watching on this team. For a while I even resorted to openly proclaiming Stortini as my favorite Oiler. The dark ages are (hopefully) behind us, but let’s not forget the player Hemsky is. The future of this team is youth, but it NEEDS experienced skill like Hemsky. His value is at an all time long right now, and I can’t see a trade that would be worth it. To me, the only potential hang-up would be contractual, but it sounds like they haven’t even talked about money.

    Ok, now for my Hall fan-boy rant. This kid is an absolute monster. I’ve long been an NHL and NBA fan, and the only other athlete I’ve seen with the same fire and relentless drive is Michael Jordan. By virtue of being on the ice he makes everyone better. He puts defenses on their heels the second he touches the puck. After that embarrassment against Calgary, my respect for him went through the roof. He woke this team up, that’s what leaders do! IT’S NOT OK TO LOSE! That’s what Hall is all about.

    Those Corsi numbers are really telling, and not the least bit surprising, to be honest. Thanks for the great article as well as the eye candy, Lowetide. Appreciated.

    Something specials-a-brewing here in Edmonton…