The Oilers are only one player, Tom Gilbert, away from being healthy for the first time all season. The Oilers haven’t had a game where Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Whitney, Ladislave Smid, Cam Barker and Tom Gilbert have all been in the lineup, but they are getting very close.

Nugent-Hopkins returns tonight after injuring his shoulder in Chicago and Tom Gilbert told me yesterday he is shooting to return Monday in Toronto. If the Oilers can stay healthy for the next month it will be interesting to see how they fare. Their last four games have been pretty solid, 3-0-1, and they’ll have another tough test tonight against the Red Wings.

Nugent-Hopkins has six goals and twelve points in eight HNIC games this year, so we should probably expect him to have a solid return this evening. To start the game he won’t be playing with Hall and Eberle.


Hall – Gagner – Eberle
Horcoff – RNH – Hemsky
Smyth – Belanger – Jones
Eager – Lander – Petrell

Smid – Petry
Whitney – Potter
Barker – Sutton


Renney had to keep the Gagner trio together after their 16-point performance v. Chicago, but I wonder if sometime this week we will see Gagner- RNH – Eberle as a trio and Hall – Horcoff – Hemsky as one. Time will tell. I also think we’ll see Horcoff take the draws and then have RNH play centre, which could lead to more puck possession for Nugent-Hopkins.

Renney has stayed true to his word with his "win and you’re in" philosophy regarding his goalie. Dubnyk made 43 saves on Thursday, and he’s been better than the opposing goalie for four straight games.


It is clear that Hemsky is a hot topic in Oilersnation, which is great, but I find it interesting how so many are certain that Ales Hemsky is done being a productive player based on a sub-par 38 games. He is coming off shoulder surgery, and he clearly re-aggravated it in the 2nd game of the season, so have the subsequent 36 games really been an accurate portrayal of what type of player he will be in the future?

I would argue his larger body of work, the previous 360 games where he scored 331 points, for a .92 ppg clip would be slightly more accurate than 38 games, but that is just me.

He has 9 points in his last 13 games, and I’m fully aware he hasn’t been dominant in those games, but it is mind-blowing to me how many are adamant that his best days are suddenly behind him. He’s 28 years old.

Also, I received confirmation from the Oilers that there has been NO discussion on salary at this point. There has been a minor, very minor, chat about term but that was it. We all know how negotiations work, whether you are selling a house, car, tickets on line or trying to secure a contract.

If you are selling then your asking price is always higher than what you are willing to accept, because you want the buyer to feel like you came down in price during negotiations. And if you are the buyer, your first offer is always lower than what you’d pay. We all know the dance.

The fact is at this point; both sides have confirmed they have had zero talks on dollars. Term is important as well, but ultimately dollars are what matters.

I think it is fair to say that there would be more teams interested in acquiring Hemsky via trade or free agency, than there are top-six players available to come to the Oilers. I think we’d all agree on that, so I’d suggest the Oilers should be more proactive.

At this moment, Ales Hemsky’s situation is the most important decision for the Oilers, so I hope that they would start focusing on it right away. Of course Hemsky would like a four-year deal, and it sounds like the Oilers only want to sign him for two, but why not put a legit offer on the table to get the discussions started? Are they certain he wouldn’t sign a three-year deal?

As I stated yesterday, it is hard to find a top-six forward, and Hemsky is that. Some of you mistakenly think a top-six forward needs to be a point-per-game players, and that isn’t the case. If Hemsky is only a 55-60 point player he’d be in the top-60 in scoring for forwards.

I’ve never said he needs to be a PPG player to be successful, especially because he’s never been one, but the fact is there are very few who will be. Eberle, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins are likely going to be those guys moving forward, but you need more than three solid forwards to win.

Whether the team decides to keep or move Hemsky isn’t by beef at this point, my concern is that the most important decision today for this team is deciding on the future of Hemsky and there has been no serious negotiations to see if he’d stay. If they put their best offer in front of him, and he decided that isn’t good enough, then fine, trade him, but why not get the negotiating started?

I also find it interesting that many of the arguments for trading Hemsky focus on that he is injury-prone and he doesn’t care anymore. Accurate on the former, but a complete guess on the latter. Others feel he is too risky to keep because he might be injured, yet in the same breath they are hoping that Linus Omark  or some other unproven player can replace his point totals? Please explain the logic in that. What has Omark shown that would make us believe he can be a 0.92 PPG player for the next 360 games?

Omark has skill, there is no debating that, but I’d say Hemsky has a much better chance of coming close to his production of the past six seasons, than Omark has. Keep in mind that during this supposed horrible season that Hemsky is having, in his 38 games he has 20 points which equals .52 PPG. In Omark’s 56 career NHL games he has tallied .48 PPG.

If Hemsky wants a five or six year deal, I can understand why the Oilers trade him, but until you put actual offers on the table they won’t know what he’ll agree to.


GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ty Conklin will start for the Red Wings, with Jimmy Howard nursing a broken finger. In previous seasons, any ex-Oiler seemed to dominate the Oilers, but not tonight. The Oilers keep rolling with a 4-3 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: You will all be pumped to watch tonight’s tilt more than you have in a long time. Gagner’s eight-point night still has you amped up, and you should be. That was an incredible night, and while I don’t see another 8-point performance from someone, (I’d love to be wrong) I suspect we’ll see another highly entertaining game.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Horcoff converts one of Nugent-Hopkins seeing-eye passes and the Nation, in unison, is shocked. Just for fun Horcoff finishes with three points, and the Nation is in shock as the two most polarizing forwards combine for 11 points in the last two games. It will make for a fun-filled comments section of the GDB.

  • Clyde Frog

    Everybody understands that a 50 point player is an incredibly good 2nd line producer in this league right?

    I think people dream of 60-70 point players and imagine good teams roll that through 2 lines and their third line just pops out 45 points without blinking.

    Go look over the playoff teams of the past 10 years…

    At ~60 games a season Hemsky produces as much as he should to be a lock as a 2nd line RW on any team in the league and challenge for a first line spot.

    Gagner has produced better than half the second line centres in the league last year…

    Sometimes people just get lost in how they think things should work over how they actually do. It’s really a joke watching people toss around the idea of how a second line centre should be 6’3″ and 230 pounds and produce 60 points…

    Wanna know what everyone else in the league calls a big centre who produces 30 points and plays with grit? A 3rd line centre!

    Value what you have and build around it, don’t trade it all away for magic beans and pipe dreams.

  • Winnie Cooper

    You can be sure there have been offers or at least conversations about moving Hemsky. My read is that the Oilers don’t need anymore pucks or plylons, so will probably wait till trade deadline or something closer to July 1.
    This guy is 60 point player at best…. 2 yrs. @ 4.00 mil. per.. at best Will he stay for that?

    • Johe

      I disagree. So here’s a challenge, troll: if you’re wrong, you come on here after the game and admit it. If I’m wrong, I do the same. And no justifying or excusing. Just type I WAS WRONG, YOU WERE RIGHT. YOU ARE SMARTER THAN I AND I BOW BEFORE YOUR AWESOMENESS AND SUPERIOR INTELLECT. Can you do that? Or is your ego too big?

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          oops… that was meant as a friendly welcome with a jab… I never called you stupid.

          You seem pretty smart to me based on your posts. But you tend to stirring the pot of the faithful against players in my experience… I just don’t quite get why all your energy seems to focus on comparing x oiler to y player on any given other team (always to the latter’s benefit). That’s a weird tendency for a fan in my experience.

          BUT, that doesn’t mean you’re not a fan. But you are not exactly a fan in the mold of Koolaid.

          • Winnie Cooper

            Thing is…the Oiler players will always be compared to players on other teams…competition is like that.

            If you go all North Korean and trumpet Oiler players in isolation, you end up paying Horcoff like a first line centre.

            The team, and its fans, have been doing it for years.

            For example, Gagner just had an 8 point night and deserves a lot of praise for his achievement, but, in a sample size of 1, he’s gone from trade bait to a legit #2 centre.

            Important to bear in mind that Kyle Wellwood, Winnipeg’s 3rd line centre, still has more points than Gagner.


          • Winnie Cooper

            Funny thing about Wellwood. I don’t watch the Jets to know if he really is the 3rd line centre but Gagner would be 3rd in points on the Jets with more points than their 1st and 2nd line centres. So not sure where you going with this.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            Ok… what happened to your account… you’re a true enigma.

            I don’t think the beef people have with you on here is that you criticize the players or compare them with others (I don’t have any beef at all, just a bemused look on my face after reading your posts).

            I think people question why you always seem to do what you just did again. Pick a random oiler and compare him with another player… and ALWAYS to the latter’s benefit. Have you ever written a post in the reverse? or that redounds well to the oiler?

            Have you ever said Hall is awesome? I can’t even recall a post of yours that doesn’t simply mention a player without comparing them with someone else… and again always to the benefit of the other player.

            It’s just a weird tick that you seem to have. And I’m not sure it constitutes perspective.

  • Chris.

    It is rediculous if the Oilers have not at least started a conversation with Hemsky’s camp about terms and money. What is the downside to learning more about his position?

    I’m completely perplexed.


    Hemsky has yet to produce 30 goals in one season. Any contract longer then 2 years and above 4 million per year would be putting the cart before the horse in my opinion. I honestly don’t believe he would sign for 2 years or 4 million per, so we are left with the only logical option, trade him for the best return available and move forward.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I really love the 1st off the ice comments. Can’t wait till Hemsky is traded and someone else will have to 1st off and then it will be time to attack him.

    If the requirement is to stay after practice then why don’t they make practice longer? I know when my 12 hour day is over I go home.

    Can someone confirm Omark staying late %? If he is going to replace Hemsky then it really is something to know. Not to mention if Omark gets hurt next year we can then label him injury prone. Thank goodness Eberle’s knee and Halls Face injuries were not as serious as 1st suspected or they do would face the back lash for working hard and getting hurt.

    • Winnie Cooper

      I was wondering what the whole “last on, first off” comments really mean.

      Does Hemsky drive to the rink while shaving, giving himself just enough time to get his gear on and saunter onto the ice, with Renny looking at his watch saying, “Nice of you to join us Ales” and giving him the stink-eye?

      Or, does he come to work the same time as everyone else and work on warming up/prepping his shoulders until the very last minute, and then after practice gets off the ice right away to work with the trainers again for a while?

      I have no idea what goes on at Rexall. All I can go on is what I see during games. I am not in a position to speculate on what happens “behind the scenes.”

      • Wanyes bastard child

        I’m going off the top of my head here but I’m pretty sure there was an interview with Renney about Hemsky leaving the ice early.

        Basically he said something a long the lines of; “He leaves the ice early to deal with medical and training issues, we have absolutely no issue with his work ethic at all.”

        The whole being first off the ice at practice is just one of those non-issues that the haters like to cling too eh 😉

  • Terran

    I’m not on the “trade Hemsky” bandwagon, but I’m not on the “keep Hemsky” side either. I like Hemsky, I always have. He’s creative with the puck, and when he shoots (yes, he’s improved on that, but he’ll always bea “pass first” player)he has a laser for a shot.

    My problem with him is his appearance of apathy. Numerous times the last few games I’ve watched him lazily turn around for the back check, one hand his stick at the puck on a turnover, and slowly skate to the bench for a change. As well, he’s very static on the powerplay, and tries to force a pass that isn’t there, instead of making a crisp pass to the point or moving to try and open a seam.

    I’d love a Hemsky with half of Hall’s drive, but it might have been beaten out of him over the last 5 years of losing. The best think for Hemsky might be to have a seat in the pressbox for one game, with the instruction to watch Hall’s drive, RNH’s creativity and Eberle’s sniping, and be told “Look, you have all those tools, we’ve seen them! Put them together!”

    Just my opinion, but trading Hemmer would be a loss. Keeping him, as he is now however, might be a loss as well.

    • Terran

      Agreed. Piss poor effort when he loses the puck which is damn often.
      Just tired of it. I dont believe trading him would haunt us.
      No i wouldnt give him away, we need another player of value that can step right in. We need several pieces.

  • yawto

    Funny thing is if the Oilers can put together a nice streak of wins, they may actually play some meaningful games in March. Not saying they will make the playoffs but they are only 12 back of eighth and a nice string of wins could at least have the team close enough to compete for points. You know Hall is pushing for it and it could be very contagious for the rest of the team. Seems that a kid playing with a huge scar has motivated the whole team to a different level.

  • I’m one of the guy’s who feel Hemsky won’t get back to where he was post shoulder surgery. In fact I would sugest Hemsky will be more Havlat then anything.

    Sell Hemsky hard on the open market and get as high a first round as the Oilers can get. The Oilers need as many bullets to get two top 5 picks!

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Amen Brother.

      Someone is going to give him one of those leap of faith contracts. It’s going to take 5 to 5.5 to land his name on an extension. Take the assets now, and come July 1st, put forth a 3-4 yr offer and bring him back. Have to believe the offers he receives in that 5-5.5 range can be counted on one finger.

      If you love something, set it free. If it comes back…it’s yours. Going this route covers all of your bases. If he more or less confirms he’s done with the Oilers july one, atleast you got something for him and he didn’t walk for nothing.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Wes just wants to shorten this window as much as possible. Why do in 6 yrs what can be accomplished in 4. Considering Edmonton has a 7 yr window for entry players,they best be competitive by the halfway mark before these kids get bored and start looking elsewhere. Recent lotto players far surpass the contributions of the veterans. Making your own luck and bringing in both Grigorenko and Murray, we’re still better off short as well as the long term. Saving your best efforts (managements) for the darkest days are what’s needed here. If only once every 35 yrs or so….

        One booby prize per year will land them right smack in the middle of an infinity rebuild, with more challenges than the Islanders,Thrashers and the Panthers have had to deal with. Players don’t mind being on the east coast, but they end up here as a last resort only. If Ales Hemsky loves Edmonton as much as Ryan Smyth does, why not participate in improving things on the homefront.

      • Ha,Ha, No. I will say that we do agree on a bit of organizational idea’s though. I’m of the opinion that anything to quicken this rebuild. If you move Hemsky a like talent should be coming back, the only way that’s going to happen is through the draft. IMO. so it’s on Tambellini to get that done!

  • A-Mc

    PS: I’m really looking forward to watching barker tonight. He used to really annoy me but I am rooting for the guy. I want him to be good because we NEED him to be.

    He did some great stuff last game and there was only one time I was upset with him: the puck got by him on the offensive blue line and in a chase for the puck, Andy sutton was far faster and got there first.

    Good luck tonight Barker, I hope you have a great game!

  • A-Mc

    I’m hoping for an oiler blow out. My friend is attending the game tonight and he has a love affair with the redwings; so naturally I want to cause him distress.

    Here’s hoping the oil go 4-1 tonight! *cheers*

  • French Toast Mafia

    Jason. I know Hemsky has shown he can produce points which you have shown but I’m interested in what you think about the other parts of his game. I find he turns the puck over far far too much along the blue line which can kill a team. I dont deny his willingness to go into tough places but he often shows lackluster effort which I don’t think is a good thing to have around the young guys. I also think he is horrible on the half boards on the powerplay and we now have 3 guys I would way rather have there then him (RNH, Ebs, Gags). Yes he scores points and that’s been proven but I’m just wondering your thoughts on these other things. He also has a career high of 23 goals and only scored 19 When he scored 77 point which I also think decreases his value.

    • Jason Gregor

      Agreed that 14 and 93 are better on the half boards, but they will be on the 1st unit PP…It would be great if 83 was on the 2nd unit.

      Guys who handle the puck lots, turn it over more, but that is partly because they have it more.

      Hemsky doesn’t have to be a goal scorer. For me I’d have him Gagner and Hall as a line, and next year have Eberle, RNH and a ??? on first line. Hemsky can be play maker with Hall the shooter.

  • Braden28

    I like the idea of pairs playing together. RNH and Eberle clearly have chemistry and, based on one game, Gagner and Hall could run together. Let the pairs gain chemistry and third can be interchangeable.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Gregor, something to think about: Since the cup run Hemsky has averaged 55.8 games per season. Even at Hemsky’s .92 PPG that’s only 51 points per season or .62 points per team game played (if my math is right, haha). Just goes to show that 0.92 PPG, though exceptional, does not do you all that much good in a top 6 role unless you play 70+ per season. For Hemsky to be the 60 point player you talked about, even at his best, he has to play 65 games per year. I’m for keeping Hemsky like you because I think once his shoulder is FINALLY healed he can do that. Maybe we’ll find out.

    • Jason Gregor

      The last two years really hurt his GP/season, and I understand there is a risk there, but I would at least want to find out if he’d stay here, rather than just trade him and see him succeed elsewhere. Trading away proven talent for potential is why some teams never improve. For the fan’s sake I hope I’m wrong.

  • Jodes

    You tell me why the CAPS want to possibly move Semin ?
    Because in their world he is like Hemsky, the ” is he going to show up
    tonight or not”. People are sick of that crap regardless of
    his .92 ppg. Give me a break already. If he showed drive every night or
    even most nights i would be happy. But he does not so quit
    insulting people who share these opinion’s of good old Alice.

    Take your show elsewhere Hemsky, Maybe you can hook up
    with Semin. First off the ice all the time, avoid the media.
    Yeah he is a keeper. Sorry, not an Oiler many want to see.
    Christ we traded Gretz and we survived.

    • Jason Gregor

      Up until this year, no one ever questioned Hemsky’s desire on the ice. He went to the tough areas and played hard.

      Last year he has one less point than Eberle, who led the team. No one said he didn’t care or try then.

      Your reaction is based on 38 games, which is a small sample size.

    • Semin also has a cap hit of 6.7M. If someone gets paid that kind of jack and can’t be motivated to actually try night in and night out even when he is teamed up with some pretty dynamic offensive players then he deserves to be turfed.

      I don’t want to simply “survive”. We have a core of your forwards coming up that look like they can be as good as anyone. I’d rather try to put together a team that can win BEFORE the young stars all need $7M contracts.

      Hemsky is on my team if the numbers are right. The only issue is who knows what the numbers are?

    • A-Mc

      I’ve been thinking the same thing. Except you could put a number if other names the as well. The most telling thing about Hemsky is that if he is available, how come other GM’s aren’t lining up to grab him. They want Sutton, and Gagner but not Hemsky. That says a lot about what the people outside of Edmonton think about him.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Nearly every article on the impending trade deadline that I’ve read prominently mentions Hemsky. And there are a series of teams that have expressed interest.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          I’ve also noticed this but either then Ek the rest of the rumours seem to be related to Edmonton. Go one the other teams blogs or Spector and the other teams aren’t mentioning him ecsept to say they don’t want him.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            can you share some links? I’d be interested to read what other teams fanbases think of Hemsky. Of course what fans think and what GMs think are often different things.


            WBC has it basically right. I think Gregor asked Renney about it (maybe a month ago or two) and Renney said he has to get treated (physio?) to be in game shape. ie, instead of palling around he’s getting a rub down (ha!)


            Perfect. a million props

            here’s the stats: 2010-2011 the top 180 forwards had 34 points or more

            2009-2010 33

            2008-2009 35 points

            2007-2008 33

            2006-2007 34

            2005-2006 36

            so it’s actually much lower than you and I thought and much lower than some seem to think

            Anyway that is your postlockout top 6 (ie. the top 180 players 6X30) range 33-36 and up. Seems pretty Hemskyish to me.

            [edit] this post is heavily edited to correct my idiocy!

      • A-Mc

        Very good point. If our 4.1m asset isn’t good for a trade of anything but picks, then what does that say about us paying what we do; and possibly the 5m price tag in July.

    • Jodes

      I would also add that averaging .92 PPG in the best hockey league in the world without working hard and having some sort of drive is nearly impossible. Unless you expect Hemsky to be a more than a point game player…then your expectations are somewhat unrealistic.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      ‘We trade Gretz and we survived’. That might be true, but you could also argue that we could have another 2 or 3 banners hanging from the rafters if that trade doesn’t happen.

      The point many of us ‘Hemsky supporters’ are trying to make is that this team will need secondary scoring going forward. If you include Gagner as a top 6 player, then we have 4 legitimate top 6 guys. There is no indication that we have anybody that is a guaranteed top 6 guy coming up through the system.

      Hemsky is only 28 and is a proven point producer in the NHL who is having a down year. I would hate to see us throw that away for more ‘potnetial’.

      • GregZ

        Jason, after your show last night I reviewed Jim Matheson’s column of Dec 9 where Tom Renney, discussing Hemsky’s role, made the comment about Ales’s glass being half full/empty. If that column really speaks to the way Hemsky is perceived by coaches/management, couldn’t it be said that the decision of whether or not the Oilers want to keep him has already been made?

        If they don’t think he’ll EVER fit in, why bother opening contract discussions, rather, just let the deadline raise the price to the best possible level, and make the deal.

        I’m not saying that’s what I would do, as I have no real information about Hemsky that would help me decide whether or not the role he would need to play is a good one for him or not, but wouldn’t the above thoughts explain the action, or lack of action the Oilers are taking in regards to Ales?

        • Jason Gregor

          Fair point. He’s had a tough year, and maybe the relationship has been damaged beyond repair. Hemsky hasn’t done himself any favours in that regard for sure. Of course if Renney isn’t back next year, who knows if the next coach and Hemsky get along better. We might never know.