Is there any debate that if Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini moves Ales Hemsky by the NHL’s Feb. 27 trade deadline he’ll be giving him away for pennies on the dollar? Of course there isn’t. The only thing worse would be getting nothing for him.

Hemsky, 28, is coming off another shoulder surgery. He’s without a goal in his last dozen games and has just one goal in his last 26 games. Then, there’s speculation about that body language thing – which either screams "Get me the hell out of here" or "I’m pissed about losing my place on the marquee," depending on whose translation you’re inclined to go with.

Add it all up and it’s safe to say Hemsky’s value is at an all-time low and that Tambellini isn’t going to get anything approaching full value for an in-his-prime player who, when healthy (whenever that last was), has been a crowd-pleaser who fits in the top-six of every team in the NHL.

If Tambellini moves Hemsky, who has underwhelming 4-18-22 and minus-15 totals in the 41 games he’s played, he’s going to get stiffed. If he doesn’t move him, he’s going to get nothing.

There’s a lose-lose proposition if ever there was one.


I’m going to resist the urge to kick a player when he’s down and pile on Hemsky with the people who are willing to drive him city limits just to get him gone. People, including those in the media, have a habit of turning on players when they’re on the way out. Not fair.

That said, I think it’s a stretch of monumental proportions to think, given how this season has unfolded, that Hemsky and the Oilers are going down the road of signing a new contract to keep him in Edmonton for the next four or five years. The next four or five weeks, for that matter.

I don’t have any hard-and-fast inside information that Hemsky, despite some half-baked comments about liking it in Edmonton, has made it known he absolutely wants to stay. On the flipside, nobody who is in-the-know has told me Hemsky has made it clear he wants out, even if every instinct I have tells me he wants a new start as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Likewise, I’m not convinced that the Oilers are determined to keep Hemsky in the fold moving forward. Even in the unlikely event they are, I’m not sold that Tambellini is capable of making the kind of pitch to Hemsky and agent Jiri Crha that’ll make it happen on a team that’s about to miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

Owner Daryl Katz made that pitch to Hemsky over dinner a couple of summers ago and the Czech winger bought it. Hemsky’s performance on the ice has since gone sideways with his shoulder problems. And it’s not like Katz or anybody else can sell Hemsky on the merits of being the brightest star on the big team in town this time, as was the case before Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins arrived. Another season or two of rebuilding before this team can contend? Hmm.

"Ales, we’ll be really good in two more years . . ."


Listening to plugged in Darren Dreger of TSN tell it today on TEAM 1260, the market for Hemsky isn’t exactly teaming with GMs trying to elbow their way to the front of the line to get him. Why would they after what we have seen the past two seasons? Has Hemsky looked like a player a Stanley Cup contender has a spot reserved for in the top six?

That, as Dreger and others point out, could change in the next 18 days as the playoff picture starts to sort itself out and the wants and needs of contenders become more pressing. Then again, realistically, how many destinations might there be aside from Los Angeles, Nashville and Detroit, where past interest in him is apparently waning in favor of adding a grittier forward?

And, unless a team absolutely needs a player with one goal in his last 26 games right here and right now, isn’t it more likely that they take a run at him over the summer, should Hemsky catch fire down the stretch? And if somebody does make an offer now, what might the best possible return to the Oilers be? That’s the question.

While it’s absolutely fair comment to ask how the Oilers and Hemsky got to this point in the first place, it’s where they are. Framed in that, the way I see it is that Hemsky’s gone one way or another and it’s better to get something for him in the next 18 days rather than nothing.

Unless you think Hemsky is coming back. If you do, I have a real estate deal that can make you rich. Really.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.


    “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.”’

    Yes, the terms.

    And like I said, even if Hemsky wants to stay, there’s the Oilers half of the equation. Do they want him at the terms Hemsky speaks of?

    • DieHard

      Haven’t read all the comments yet (usually do) but what team will risk what Hemsky’s terms may be? From any GM’s point of view, based on what you’ve seen of Hemsky this year – no scoring (yes, playing the toughs but he’s done that before) to giving up on plays to losing the puck and no effort to get it back. No matter what happens by Feb 27, July 1st is a big issue for all GM’s with regards to Hemsky.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Here Ales i have some cab fare for you. I for one do not want another season of his crap. Put up or shut up time has come and gone with this guy. YES HEMSKY DIEHARDS- He is a talented top 6 on most teams, i don’t deny that, however, he does not want to be here and if he does for crying out loud show it. I just do not know where this guy’s head is at like most of us. If you don’t like it here say so !! We have dealt Pronger and Peca and Spermanov [ Samsonov] etc and even Lupul [ damn him]
    Dont play the fans, tell us like it is Ales ! I think this is not the team for you, You need to be somewhere that you are not top 3-4… Wait a minute, that is here !

    In short no we cannot risk losing what we have invested in him for nothing, but it is time to move on folks, Life after Ales begins
    real soon and thank god.

  • Paq Twinn

    The fans and media are way to quick to jump on a guy on his way out. He had two major shoulder injuries and since his last time back he has been healthy but playing like SH*t. Yes agreed but has Whitney been any better I don’t see him being thrown under the bus. And how about RNH two shoulder injuries in his first year didn’t even last 1 game back are we all going to throw him under two if comes back and plays poorly?
    Hemsky is a world talent and I have enjoyed watching him play and if your a GM of worth you can convince a desperate playoff GM that all he needs is a change of scenery and a couple of linemates that are not as slow or offensively challenged as Smyth or Horcoff.
    He will put up points again.

  • Paq Twinn

    The problem with trading Hemsky (even with a season as bad as his has been), is that as a 29th place club (and formerly a 2 time 30th place club), you have to replace him to hope to get better.

    There’s no one in the organizational depth chart who can replace him. So even if you assume the kids have all passed him, you still need quality players elsewhere in the lineup.

    And if there’s no one in the organization who can replace him, that means you have to go free agent shopping or via the trade route. The only real depth the Oilers have in their system is their 3 (potentially 4 after the draft) young high end forwards, Gagner and then a bunch of 2nd round picks who are tracking okay. There’s no real strength to trade from to fill the need at both forward and on the blueline.

  • Paq Twinn

    If I’m Tambo, I’m offering 2 years, maybe three tops. (Though it would seem that Tambo is offering nothing)

    If I’m Hemsky, I’m looking for longer term as injury insurance, and I would accordingly wait out the season to test the UFA market.

    You’re bang-on, Brownlee. He’s on his way out of town, and we’re going to get peanuts for him. Hindsight is 20/20 and I’m an admitted armchair GM, but I think this particular asset has been very poorly managed.

    It’s a shame, as he leaves a big hole in the top 6. Does Omark fill it? Maybe – but that remains a big question mark. It’s not going to be filled anytime soon by whoever/whatever we get back for him.

    The speculation about his body language is just that. And if it is indicative of him wanting to get the hell out of here, I don’t know that I blame him – particularly given the way fans and MSM have thrown him under the bus this year after coming back from major surgery, and after he has plugged away for 6 years on truly terrible teams.

  • French Toast Mafia

    Zero chance that he gets signed short term so we can stop talking about it. Thats not how free agency works and Hemsky is a free agent. He is gone for sure.

    Sidenote: Ill be throwing a houseparty the day he gets traded. Feel free to stop by ON

  • Paq Twinn

    I agree with the idea of signing him short term. It gives the player the opportunity to prove he’s still a top-six forward when he’s healthy (I really don’t think he’s quite over his surgery yet) and given what he’s put up with on this team over the years, I think the team owes him another chance if he wants it (as far as a team ever owes a player anything…)

    If he does well in that year, then good for him and good for the Oilers: better player and better trade value.

    If he does poorly, well, it’s only a one year deal and he’ll be off the books by the time they have to sign Hall and Eberle.

  • Hemmercules

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just asking: why does Hemsky tell Gregor he wants to be here if he doesn’t? He doesn’t have to talk about it. He’s the one who brought up them not having made an offer, not someone else. If he’s happy to be gone, why does he say anything about this at all?

    • Yes, he wants to be here, “but it depends on the terms.” That’s a big “but”

      That’s splitting hairs, of course, but like somebody else pointed out, Hemsky gets nothing but grief for as long as he’s here if he says, “I’m outta here one way or another.”

      There’s nothing in it for him to say that. If he says, “No comment,” then people here are going to take that as a negative anyway.

    • Cru Jones

      What’s he supposed to say? “No, I hate it here and can’t wait to get out”?

      Then he eliminates any possibility of staying should the FA waters not be as warm as he expects, and he paints himself as having even more of an attitude problem.

      This is the same guy who has said he’s been 100% to start the last two seasons. He’s not lying, he’s just saying the only thing he can say.

  • Hemmercules

    Good read. I hate to see my once favorite player leaving but it just feels like it will happen one way or another. Maybe Tambo will hash out a 1 or 2 year deal if the deadline offers are too weak but the fact that they haven’t even talked to him about contracts speaks volumes.

  • Cru Jones

    A lose/lose proposition. Finally someone gets it right.

    Why do people insist on even suggesting that they sign him for one-year? If you’re in Hemsky’s position, do you even consider signing for less than 2 or 3 years?

    • Paq Twinn

      Well it wouldn’t be the worst idea ever. His vaue isn’t what it used to be. One good stong season next year could show he still has some game left in him.

  • Paq Twinn

    It’s frustrating thinking about Hemsky.

    ideally he will sign an extension but the Oilers can’t do anything if he is planning on testing the waters.

    I hope I’m the first to say I hope he gets re-signed for one more season . . . he can’t be this bad.