GDB 61.0: SMART MOVE

The Ales Hemsky contract extension was a good move for the Oilers, and it should finally put an end to the ridiculous comments that Hemsky doesn’t like Edmonton. He could have earned a longer deal on July 1st, but after so many years of not having much skill around him, Hemsky recognized that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle will make the game more fun and exciting for him moving forward.

For me, the most important part of this extension is that the Oilers didn’t trade away a proven NHL player for more picks and prospects. They wouldn’t have won any trade involving Hemsky prior to Monday, and rather than take a step backwards in the rebuild they kept moving forward by signing the 13th overall pick in 2001.

If the Oilers are going to be competitive they need more than just the three kids. The kids still aren’t ready to play all the tough minutes, but in two years, maybe sooner, they should be. Hemsky faced the other team’s top defensemen for years and he still produced, so I’m curious to see how he’ll fare if he doesn’t have to face the #1 pairing every night.

The only risk in signing Hemsky is if he gets injured. When he plays he produces. Hemsky wasn’t healthy at the start of the season, and likely should have started the season on the IR. He is finally healthy, and today he will play his 27th consecutive game, the longest streak since the start of the 2008/2009 season. He says this is the best he’s felt in three years.

I understand that some doubt his ability to stay healthy, but those who suggest he doesn’t produce must be narrow-minded and looking only at this season. Now that he’ll be playing with the likes of Hall, Nugent-Hopkins or Sam Gagner every night, I suspect he will be almost as productive as he was before his two injured-plaqued seasons.

For the first time in over 20 years the Oilers didn’t lose a skilled player to free agency or a contract squabble, yet some still think it is a bad signing. They point to Hemsky’s five goals and 26 points and say he’s not worth $5 million. Of course he isn’t, if you are naive enough to think teams sign players based on 47 games rather than the previous 350.

Tell me how a two-year deal for Hemsky hurts the Oilers? His contract won’t impact the extensions of Hall, Eberle or RNH. They were going to get paid regardless of whether Hemsky re-signed or got traded. People are dreaming if they felt Steve Tambellini was going to get a top-four D-man for Hemsky before Monday. That wasn’t going to happen.

This was a great move by the Oilers, because Hemsky will be an excellent "support" player for the kids. They won’t have to win every game by themselves, and Hemsky is still young. He’s only 28, and while that makes him old amongst the top-six forwards in Edmonton, he is far from a fossil around the league. Now was not the time to trade a proven top-six forward for a package of prospects and/or picks.

Hemsky will push the kids for icetime, and if he’s on your 2nd PP unit, then your first should be pretty good. I’ve said it for weeks, the Oilers are a better team today, and for the next two years, with Hemsky than they would be with the prospects and picks Tambellini would have received in a trade for him.

LINE UP

Nugent-Hopkins returns to the lineup this afternoon, but whether he plays with Hall or Eberle remains to be seen. He’s been raring to go for almost a week, but the Oilers wisely elected to give him a few extra days rest. Today’s lineup will be the best one the Oilers have iced all season, and if they can stay healthy for the final 22 games weshould get a better guage on how good this team actually is.

I wonder if Tom Renney, who will coach today, puts Nugent-Hopkins back with Eberle and Ryan Smyth, or if he keeps Gagner and Eberle together and plays Nugent-Hopkins with Hall and Hemsky. I think eventually you’ll see Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins together, just maybe not today.

Smyth – Gagner – Eberle
Hall – RNH – Hemsky
Paajarvi – Horcoff – Eager

My guess on the top three lines, but I’m not sure if Ryan Jones will draw back in. Phoenix isn’t a tough team, so it would make sense to play Jones and his 13 goals v. the Coyotes. Anton Lander will sit out, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they send him to OKC very soon. I think he should have been in OKC from the start of the year, and now that the Oilers are healthy getting him lots of playing time in OKC would be beneficial for his development.

Jones/Hordichuk – Belanger – Petrell

The backend and goaltending will stay the same, although last game Tom GIlbert played with Andy Sutton, while Corey Potter was paired with Ryan Whitney.

Smid – Petry
Whitney – Potter
Sutton – Gilbert

Dubnyk

QUICK HITS

  • Currently there are only six 30-goal scorers in the league, and Radim Vrbata is the least talked about of the group. He and Ray Whitney are playing great for the Coyotes. Vrbata leads the NHL in road goals with 19 and GWG with 10. He’s been excellent for the Dogs this year.
     
  • I’m not sure why some of you are so down on Jones? Yes he’s struggled for the past six weeks, but he was overachieving early in the season. He has 13 goals and 24 points in 58 games. He had 25 points in 81 games last year. He’s having a career year, yet because he’s struggled lately now he is junk. Sam Gagner has been on fire for three months, but he only has one more goal than Jones. It is amazing how quickly people’s perception of a player will change. Jones has been inconsistent, but if he finishes with 17 goals and 30 points that would be a great season.
     
  • Who has been the biggest surprise on the Oilers this year? Ladislav Smid becoming a solid shut down D-man? Jeff Petry emerging in the last two months? Jordan Eberle on pace for 80 points? It’s likely Eberle because 80 points means he’s a top-15 scorer, but the other two have been pleasant surprises as well. Smid has been rock-solid all year, regardless of who he plays with, and lately he and Petry have looked very good together.
     
  • Petry might turn out to be the most important surprise, because this team desperately needs a top-three D-man. If, and it is a big if at this point, he keeps progressing the Oilers backend woes might be solved from within. We probably won’t know for at least another year if he is ready to be a steady top-four, but right now he’s playing very well.

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Phoenix is red-hot, going 9-0-1 in their last ten, but their last three games have been won in OT/SO. They are due for a loss and it comes this afternoon. Oilers win 5-3.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nugent-Hopkins will pick up two points and with Hemsky signed many Oiler fans will now focus on "The Nuge" winning the first Calder trophy in Oilers history. Nugent-Hopkins’ two points will give him 37 on the season, and he’ll be four back of Adam Henrique.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Hemsky signing will the main topic on the panel, and one of the analysts will point to Hemsky’s five goals and state he’s overpaid. He is if you go by that, however, a few minutes later the same guy will talk glowingly about Rick Nash, unaware that Nash is on pace for 26 goals and 56 points, yet he’s not overpaid at $7.8 million. Sometimes it is hard to explain how one’s perception can change from player to player.

  • Greg Stink | ESPN

    As much as the eastern based hockey media can be accused of being slightly biased against small market western teams — the local media and fans in Edmonton are comparatively delusional about the worth of Oiler players IMO.

    Yes the Oilers are a better team with Hemsky on the second line than they are without him.

    But unless Hemsky can finally break the 20 goal, 80 point mark in a season, this is an overpay pure and simple.

    And yes this is another in a long line of bad contract overpays the Oilers have handed out.

    • Clyde Frog

      Luckily living in reality isn’t required to post on the internet.

      Did you hoenstly type that?

      Yeah…. 80 points or bust? So to level set can you just breakdown the points by position/line that a team should have?
      IE 1st line Centre : 300 pts.
      1st line LW: 275 pts.
      etc.

      • Ha. Props.

        People are crazy delusional about point expectations. We want the kids to all be PPG, and Hemsky as well. That would give us 4 PPG players even though there are only 12 in the entire NHL. I think there were 11 last year.

        Hemsky as a solid, threatening 2nd line winger getting 60-65pts is exactly what we need.

        Its called depth, balance of attack and forces the other team to decide who to send their top D pairing out against therefore making BOTH line 1 and line 2 better.

        I know we haven’t had it for so long that nobody remembers what it looks like.

        But sure if Hemsky doesn’t get 80 pts (translation = top 10 in scoring in the entire NHL) its an overpay. Complete. Delusion.

  • Spartacus

    ST surprised me with the signing of Hemmer. I was certain we would all be waiting to see how the oilers would get screwed by a trade getting picks/prospects. As Renney said compete in year 3 win in it in year 5! Keeping hemsky definitely helps in that regard.

    GDP oilers come out flying and keep pedal to the medal 6-3 oilers ¶:)

  • Clyde Frog

    Jason: Maybe they signed Hemsky to trade him? If his value on the trade market was low as a rental, maybe now he is worth more. He didn’t get a no trade clause!!!

    • justDOit

      Even if he did get a movement clause, it wouldn’t kick in until his new contract takes effect, next season. I’m not sure if his current contract has a NMC/NTC, but I don’t think it does.

      But if they did sign him to trade him, those two events usually occur pretty close to each other, and they don’t issue press releases about the big signing.

      If another team now comes along and offers a socks-knocker deal for Hemmer, it would be very curious. Where was that deal a day ago? Hemsky has been shopped very diligently, and the lack of return on those discussions is what has lead to the team re-signing him.

    • Drinkin' the Oilaid

      I don’t think they signed 83 to trade him in the next couple days. I think this is a case of asset management. Hemsky should have more value, but he’s been damaged goods for so long that the Oilers were getting pennies on the dollar offers for him. Signing him short term allows his value to increase if he keeps playing as he has in February, and if he plays like this the next 2 seasons, the Oilers have the option to move for closer to true value.
      Just like the stock market, you have to resist selling low, even though there is a risk in keeping an underperforming stock. I think the reality is that the Oilers realized they weren’t getting anything close to fair value, so they bit the bullet and elected to keep 83.

  • mr_nihilism

    So the supposed heart and soul of the Oil, Smytty, left town over a difference of $100K and returned to love and adoration.
    Meanwhile, we’ve got another super-talented guy, Ales, who has not just talked the talk, but has shown repeatedly that he wants to be here and many people have the daggers out for him.

    What gives?

    • justDOit

      One of my theories on how Hemsky is perceived in the media, has to do with his language skills. In listening to him, I feel that he has never picked up English like some other Europeans playing in the NHL have. This makes him somewhat reluctant to engage in interviews, and he is therefore thought of as aloof and maybe a little conceited. Bad apple, that one.

      But when his teammates come out and publicly campaign for him to stay, it says a lot for his personality and competitiveness, regardless of what is perceived by the MSM.

      • Ales is well-liked by his teammates. I have not talked to anybody I can remember who has had anything bad to say about him as a teammate. Communicated with two veterans last night after the signing and both were very happy he’s staying.

        While Ales at times appears aloof, as you say, he just isn’t somebody who likes to sit around all day doing interviews with reporters. Not his nature. That shouldn’t be held against him. When you get him away from that interview situation, he can be very engaging and willing to shoot the breeze. Not often, but here and there.

        • justDOit

          And that was my point – how he’s perceived in the media is not at all accurate, and that has been proven by his teammates speaking out for him.

          He also seems shy during interviews, rarely smiles, and isn’t known for being a good quote – all characteristics that won’t get you far when dealing with the media, and it certainly won’t get you a HNIC gig after your playing days are done.

          It’s unfortunate that he has been described as a bad team guy and lazy by some in the MSM, but I can see what may have led to those inaccurate assumptions. It’s good to see/hear his teammates speak out on his behalf.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            How many times have we seen Hemsky on AfterHours on CBC? Exactly. Taylor Hall. Jordan Eberle.RNH. You want TV presence Taylor Hall is the Guy.During the 80s when the games were on ITV Jarri Kurri was seldom seen. He was a player that wasn’t comfortable with his english and it showed. “You Know” was often used by Kurri as a way to finish sentences.I respect Hemsky’s descision not to step into the limelight unnecessarily. If you look at our young guns they are very media savy. From doing interviews to posting on Twitter. I know how I feel in front of an audience. I ain’t a pretty face and have a voice 2 octaves two high for a man 6-1 215. So if Hemsky appears standoffish that is totaly ok withme. We have enough guys on the team for whom the camera loves.

  • Clyde Frog

    So there are two camps?

    Camp A: Those believe in their soul that the rumor they heard that Team A (Currently in the playoff hunt) wanted to trade their number #2 defenseman or power forward/team captain for Hemsky and a AHL player or two.

    The only reason that Tambellini didn’t take this magical deal was that he hates us personally. Thus they are unhappy currently as NHL 12 totally verified this trade could happen.

    Camp B: Believes smart hockey moves are when you aquire legit NHL players without giving up legit NHL players/Grade A (85% chance of making it) prospects.

    They tend to be happy with any move that reinforces the Oilers as above and didn’t collect magic beans to dream over in the off season.

    I think based on that there are just irreconcilable differences between the two camps and everyone should just chat among their own.

  • I tried it at home

    Ok, who keeps scheduling Saturday games in the afternoon? Not many, I know, but even one is a waste of a great excuse to drink beer and hang around cute waitresses. Coffee, while always a favorite just aint doing it for me 🙁 Oh, and I thought Hemsky was gonna get a one year deal, to put up some numbers and increase his value next year. Once again, I was wrong. Oopsie

    Oh, and one more thing. As I just got back from the heat and sun of the Philippines, thanks for the Welcome Home snowstorm. yay.

  • Old Soldier

    Seriously? The Oilers Overpaid Hemsky? He makes a similiar salary as Connolly does and has one less career point in 139 fewer games, he is injury prone but you can’t deny his stats he is a 0.8 point per game player on one of the worst teams in the nhl. Moreover he is 28 years old, about to enter his prime and when he is healthy he is a force to be reckoned with in the NHL.

    capgeek has 21 comparable forwards with cap hits at or just above or just below $5M/ year (Alfredsson, Bergeron, Carter, Connolly, Doan, Getzlaf, Gionta, Havlat, Horcoff, Hossa, Huselius, Kesler, Kessel, Langkow, McDonald, Perry, Plekanec, Pominville, Ribeiro, Rolston & Ryan)

    Since the lockout Hemsky is 4th in points per game behind only Alfredsson, Hossa & Getzlaf. You can certainly argue injuries are a concern but even in total points he ranks 10th so at worst he`s fair value for the salary range.

    Hemsky took a hometown discount to play for a team he is passionate about statswise he is

    2005-06: 81 games, 77 points
    06-07: 64 games, 53 points
    07-08: 74 games, 71 points
    08-09: 72 games, 66 points
    09-10: 22 games, 22 points
    10-11: 47 games, 42 points
    11-12: 47 games, 26 points

    good luck on the oilers finding another 0.8 ppg player for the deal they got with hemsky

    if youre going to say they overpaid him please add in some facts to support your opinion because to me it looks like they got Hemsky for a bargain, especially if he stays healthy

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Not disappointed at all with the regulation loss, am a little disappointed Vermette had a couple free shots at Hopkins. The Oilers let him off the hook when they should’ve discreetly shattered his forearm or administered a Clarke/Varlomov special.

  • Rob...

    Hemsky had some jump today. You could tell he liked playing with the kids.

    Who is the referee wearing number 22? He missed three obvious cross checks and a trip by the Coyotes in the third period. If he calls two or three of them the game might have had a different result.

  • Poolanov

    Was at game today and glad to see Ryan Smyth pulled from the top six in favor of Pajaarvi, he was outright brutal, disinterested, and way too slow to play with Eberle and Gagner

  • Oilers4ever

    Blah.. man am I tired of shovelling snow today.. and then the Oilers lay a royal stinker this afternoon… I don’t know which was more painful.. the game.. or shovelling all the darn snow. This game just proves again how Dubby is not ready to be a starter… All-worldly against the Flyers and then an AHL goalie tonight.. should have had all three… despicable… trade for Bernier at the deadline somehow please…

    • O.C.

      I don’t know what game you watched, the big easy played great. You blame him for the 1st goal which deflected off both eberle and petry…c’mon man. and a 2 on 1 with doan going far crossbar down? c’mon man. I know you are ticked off from the snow, but don’t take it out on the big guy!

  • O.C.

    To those with differing opinions who feel they have to attack my post with ad hominems, sarcasm, and other fallacies:

    Yes, I do feel at least 20 goals and 80 points is a reasonable expectation to place on a smallish non-physical forward whose demands for a 5 million dollar salary are met.

    Hemsky is more Craig Janney than Cam Neely. He is an offensive player who is only contributing to the team if he is producing significant offense.

    • Clyde Frog

      Yes and what everyone says is go look at the stats. 80 points puts him in top 12 production in the entire league. IE 1 team in 3 has a player like this…

      Give your head a shake if the only way your happy is if Hemsky cracks the top 10 in scoring. There are no fallacies here…

      We’re still waiting on your breakdown of production by position so we can understand what you honestly believe hockey players produce.

      What happens here often is people make sweeping statements like Gagner isn’t a second line center unless he produces 65-70 pts! (Which would put him on most teams 1st lines production wise) Then a bunch of others stand up and yell yes! I played NHL 12 and my top line all scored 90 goals, why can’t Tambellini put together that team!?!

      If you can’t list your production expectations by position, at least list your comparable 80 point players.

      Don’t worry we’ll wait…

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      i think you need to take a look at what $5mil buys you these days in terms of offensive production before tossing out 80pt reasonable expectations.

      last season, as an example, 9 players in the league hit 80pts or higher. of those 9, the only one making under 5.3mil was selanne, who signed at 4mil as a +35 player. Average salary (including selanne) of those 9 players was 6.363mil.

      yes, there are obviously players that can/will out perform their contracts. I would suggest hemsky putting up 80pts is more of a “would be great to see because it looks like he has the potential”, rather then a reasonable expectation.

      • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

        Point taken.

        So what would be satisfactory production over the next two years in your opinion? If top 15 production is too much to ask what about top 20(72-75pts)? Top 30?

        Following your example of the last couple years in the NHL, to finish in the top 30 scorers Hemsky would need to score around 68 points which is approx .85 points ppg if he plays close to a full season.

        What if Hemsky continues a pattern of 60 games played, scores 14 goals and 50 points. Does it then become a bad contract or does 5 million dollars then become the market price for such a player?

        I guess that I believe durability and consistency should also be a consideration in compensating players.

        When Horcoff was overpaid by the Oilers, the belief was that in addition to being a potential 70 point player he brought other valuable skills to the table such as defensive play, PK,leadership, faceoffs etc. It turned out to be a terrible contract.

        I don’t see Hemsky bringing any dimension other than offense.

        I do think Tambellini did a good job in getting a reasonable term of 2 years. I also understand the positive optics of for once not subtracting proven talent. I just agree with the others outside of Edmonton who feel it is an overpay based on performance and durability.

        • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

          tim connelly got 2 years 4.75mil per from the leafs and had an injury history (and poorer career numbers then hemsky).

          leino got 6 years 4.5mil per from the sabres and was largely unproven with neither 20 goal or even a 60pt season to his name.

          5mil for hemsky based on 2 years was probably market price for him. if this was a 4 or 5 year deal i think we would be having a different discussion on it.

          i would take 2 70game 60 point seasons from hemsky on this deal. He gives the oilers some proven (when healthy) point production, and can move up to the top line when one of the kids gets hurt or to shake things up.

          if the oilers are relying on hemsky to put up 80pt seasons the next 2 years this rebuild is going ass backwards (in my little mind). Hemsky “should” solidify a good 2nd line and PP unit that “should” put up some numbers.

          was it an overpay? maybe by a few 100k, but the comparables are there to put him very much in the 5mil ballpark. with the cap space available and only on a 2 year term that shouldnt hinder them when the kids all start needing new deals,it is a deal that makes some sense.

          time will tell really

    • Orange-n-Blue

      When you attack him as a person rather than his argument. Which hasn’t been done in all replies. See post 70. Most are presenting valid arguments. 5 mil w/ today’s cap and inflation is perfectly reasonable.

  • O.C.

    Was at game today. Thots…

    DD shat the bed.
    D were solid B game
    Fwds were off until second half of game. Top two lines were real good after.
    Hemsky and Hall and RNH were amazing in last period

    Lot of interference. Officials didn’t cost the game. But an NHL official doesn’t guess at penalties either. That Eager penalty was awful.

    Hey Shanny… How about suspending flagrant cheaters who embarrass officials and make a mockery of our game?

  • Reg Dunlop

    Scott Hartnell on CBC after hours. He refers to oil fans complaining about the cheap knee on MPS,gets Paajarvi’s name wrong. Scott Oake corrects him and Hartnell gives a dismissive “whatever”. What a chucklehead.

  • O.C.

    When is a loss not a loss? When Noodge gets a goal, the top 2 lines kill, we stay in the lottery mix, and dump another shovel full of dirt on the Flames coffin. All in all, not a bad days work.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    The question is not whether or not the Oilers over paid for Hemsky.

    First would he have gotten a longer term deal for $5mil on the open market? Yes.

    Second would what the Oilers gotten in return of been as beneficial to the team over the next two years? No. (even at 60 games played)

    So the deal was not just the right thing to do but it was a good deal on all accounts. Add to the fact there is no no move or trade clause and this deal is better for the Oilers than most people in the know thought they would get.

    Everyone keeps saying its time for this team to show they want to take the next step and stop just trading for picks and prospects. That’s exactly what this did.

    ST haters can now find a way to say something negative. It is expected.