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.

  • IF…

    …Ales Hemsky says yes to $14.5M — $5M, $5M, $4.5M — over 3 years ($4.83M cap hit) with a NTC…

    ……what say you’s?

    I wouldn’t give him more term/$ than that, but those numbers would have to seem fairly reasonable, no? After all, he IS making $5M this season (and he’s not signing for $4.1M).

    • Dutchscooter

      I just used $4.1M because that’s the cap hit on his current deal.

      The point I was trying to make is NO RAISE. I haven’t looked it up, but I’m assuming that players with his numbers, etc. average more per season. So what? He’s a fragile player who’s had a rotten year. If he’s looking for $5M+ no thanks.

      And I agree with the other comments here….no NTC or NMC which may also be a major sticking point.

      • Right, but he made $3.5M at the beginning of his deal & makes $5M now. The $4.1M cap hit is somewhat meaningless to the player. Sure, they compare it to other guys, and probably don’t want to have a high cap hit if it means losing a star player, but at the end of the day, all that matters is the $$ they’re making.

        The idea of that $4.1M cap hit was that it was a bit steep early on, but became a bit low towards the end of the deal. He made $4.5M last year & $5M this year. At minimum, he’s gonna want (and get) those same dollars in a 2 year deal. Chances are, somebody gives him a deal in the 3-5 year range – the longer the deal, the lower the cap hit, and vice versa.

        Ex: 2 year deal = $4.75M – 5.25M cap hit; 3 year deal = $4.5M – 5M; 4 year deal = $4.25M – 4.75M (*reasonable estimates*)

    • Wanyes bastard child

      I would not give him, or any other player for that matter (even Hall/RNH/Eberle) a NTC. Other than that, I would go 3 – 4 years with an even more front loaded deal so it is easier to deal him two years down the road when the Oilers will hopefully have a replacement top 6 forward ready to go (still hoping Magnus reaches that). It still takes more than one line to make the playoffs, and if the Oilers trade Hemmer without having a replacement in waiting then it is a setback.

      As far as the hit, I did not like it at the time as from my angle at the game like he hit Hemsky before the puck was there (did not watch the replay – did Hemsky ever have possession of it?). What what was worse was the fact that Commodore had to take the fight for Kronwall. Not that I was surprised since it was Kronwall, but I felt sorry for Mike being the one taking the fists. If you are willing to dish out hits like that then you should have to answer for them.

      In any case, Datsyuk should have been targetted hard after that play. This is the one thing I have hated about the Oilers since the lucky Cup run – if another team targets their skill guys they do not retaliate on the opponent’s top guns. They should have run Pavel a few times as an even up, especially since Detroit is not a tough team to begin with. Start doing that and other teams will not take liberties with the young guns either.

    • GregZ

      I might do the three years at the $$$ you list, but there’s no way he should get a NTC. That’s the kind of bonus I’d offer a player on his way up with lots of potential. No matter which team gets him, Hemsky should be compensated purely for what he delivers, not what we think he might deliver.

  • Spydyr

    The Oilers should offer Hemsky a 2 year deal at his current rate.

    IMO any lower offer would be construed as an insult by Hemsky.The team HAS to open negotiations before trading him.It is only good business sense.

    Besides Katz has a few million kicking around with the drugstore sale.

  • Dutchscooter

    The posts concerning signing Hemsky have me shaking my head. His play and injury history has people giving him a raise in pay?!?

    Sign him. Trade him. I’m not firmly in either camp. But you can’t give him a raise. The Oilers should be giving him a short term, like two years at his current rate of $4.1M per. It’s not an insult, just hedging bets. I think that’s why there has been no movement in the Oiler camp. Hemsky wants too much and/or too long.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Two years, $8 million, without a no-movement/no-trade clause. You can always trade him later if it’s not working out, but they still need him.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Is anyone else bothered by Hemmers, “i don’t really need to work on anything to improve” attitude?

    Last one on the ice, first one off after practice must not set a good example for his teammates. Are the Oilers a better club with 83 marching to the beat of a different drummer?

    Have to think it was more or less Ken Holland checking the durability of Hemsky’s shoulders on that play rather than Nicklas Kronwall.

    • GregZ

      You nailed it. Clearly the man chooses to interact with the game on his own terms, which is fine, but having him wear the “A” on his jersey is a bad idea. I respect Hemsky’s talent on the ice, but he’s no leader.

    • Lowetide

      We know it was reported far and wide that he left practice early, but we also know that he’s been injured so perhaps there was a story behind the exit.

      Seems like a lot of people have turned on him. Wish someone would reveal more than leaving practice early.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Need more be said about 83? The leaving practices quickly isn’t something that is recent or injury related. He’s been doing this for the whole time he’s been an Oiler.

        This year, however difficult it may have been for Hemsky surely must reveal he’s put his own needs before his teams needs this season. Quitting on plays a second or two early, altered his game to insure he’s healthy for his next club/his next contract.

        Things may not ever get “that bad” i guess if one or two players on the hockey club aren’t required to check their attitudes when they walk through those dressing room doors. How bad can it get ….right, if it’s just Hemmers?

        • horndog77

          While I don’t agree with it, I can understand why Hemsky is looking after himself this season. Take a look around any work environment and you will see people doing the same on a daily basis, BUT they have the advantage of having a secure contract in place. Hemsky does not have that luxury – if he is hurt now he does not get paid next year while rehabbing.

          On the flip side, management is at fault in this as well. As a manager, if I have performance issues with someone on my team then it is my responsibility to address them (and to put my employees in the position to succeed in the first place). More importantly, if I no longer need someone on my team (and can move them elsewhere) or have decided to terminate them (trade in Tambi’s case), once the decision is made I communicate it to them directly and quickly. If Tambi has no intention of signing him, then he should say so and trade Hemsky sooner than later. Or, if they want to sign him, then get on with it. His dithering style and lack of direct communication is a sign of weakness in a leader.

          • GregZ

            I think you guys are both right. The team set Hemsky up when Tom Renney made the comment about Ales’s glass of water being half full/empty back in December. If he picked up his performance, fine, sign a deal, if not, then you’ve let the fanbase know what is likely coming.

            Part of me has sympathy for Hemsky, as I do recognize the sacrifice of his body, but he’s managed this season terribly, imo. If the condition of his shoulders was slowing his return to form, he could have taken note of how Ryan Whitney has managed to shape the discussion of a similiar situation. By being candid about what is going on with him, Whitney explained his subpar performance earlier this season, and prepared everyone for possible wobbles when he did come back.

            Had Hemsky done something similar, I suspect most fans would have rallied to his support, and who knows what effect that might have had. Instead, he’s allowed himself to be portrayed as a moody slacker, which hurts his earning potential, and also hurts the Oilers, because his value has dropped. The whole affair is just unfortunate.

  • GregZ

    The Oilers cannot make the mistake of offering Hemsky contract terms based primarily on what he’s done in the past. Horcoff had a couple of pretty good years, and got paid in the expectation his performance curve was on the rise, when clearly it had already peaked.

    Hemsky is 28, and now appears to be entering the final stage of his recovery from two major surgeries. There should be about a two, perhaps three year window where he can reasonably be expected to perform at or near his peak performance level.

    If he stays with the Oilers, he’ll likely play 2nd line RW, with 2nd unit PP time, possibly even some PK. I’d guess, health permitting, that he’ll produce somewhere between 55-65 pts each season, max.

    I’d offer him two more years, at roughly the same $$$ he’s making now, and I’d want the answer by Feb 12, otherwise the Oilers should package him up with a good prospect for the best defenseman we can get that has some term left on his contract. And if he stays, the “A” comes off his jersey. Assistant captains should be setting examples for young players, especially when times are tough, and I’m just not seeing any of that from Hemsky.

  • JohnQPublic

    The question isn’t is Ales Hemsky a quality NHL player, it’s at what price and term do you let him walk away?

    Would you keep Ales at the expense of:

    Eberle?
    Hall?
    RNH?

    No.

    How about these guys?
    Whitney?
    Gagner?
    Dubnyk?
    Omark?
    Paajarvi?
    Teubert?

    Whenever you pay too much for one guy, you lose out on paying another in the cap world.

    So, where is the line that you let Ales go at?

  • Lowetide

    Rom: I’m with you, love this player.

    There is an area of concern and that is his even strength number. His even strength points per 60 number a year ago was 2.88 (ridiculous) and this season it is 1.46 even with the recent effort.

    That’s a concern. He’s so good that 1.46 is a red flag, but as you state injury and then recovery is probably a big part of it.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I get the concerns: his production is down, he might want too much money, despite what he says he may actually want out and mostly he’s an injury liability for sure

      (but not as fragile as some would suggest – yesterday someone said he was an Ott hit away from the IR… well Kronwall is a pretty good substitute and he shook it off fine)

      What I don’t get is the complaints about the guy not only from fans but from sections of the media that seem to think his production is in the Gomez basement. It’s not. It’s down, but it’s not in the wilderness. And complaints that he is soft (Brownlee had a good point on this last night).

      The narrative that surrounds Hemsky is like a fever dream where the slightest thing is magnified exponentially.

      • Lowetide

        Well, I think there is a concern signing him to a long term deal for big money. A 5-year, $30M deal with his injury history would be a bad idea.

        I’ve been a fan of Hemsky’s all down the line. Oilers should sign him to a 2-year deal if possible.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          agreed. 5 is out of the question. 2 would be ideal from the Oiler perspective…

          but if you went 3 or 4 you might be able to massage the terms a bit and front load the $.

          How about 3 yr. $14-15M? I think that is a compromise that most Oiler fans could live with (not sure if Hemsky and agent could though).

          4 at 18-20M would be fine with me but I imagine that would be a touch too long for some.

          • Lowetide

            I’d go 3×5, but we’re probably alone. 🙂

            The good thing about 2 years is that Hall and Eberle will be re-signed and Gagner too by the time it’s up. It’ll come off the books when they start talking turkey with RNH.

            Having said that, a final season of Hemsky at $5M shouldn’t be that hard to move.

            Don’t think the Oilers will do it, though.

  • Oilers will kick themselves for letting Hemsky get away without at least making a legit contract offer. He should be offered at least a 2 yr deal. Hemsky is a player and Tambellini should be canned when he’s traded. Let’s all enjoy Hemsky for the last few weeks. Goodbye secondary scoring.

  • Slick

    Great to see Hallsy’s numbers underneath it all. There will come a point in time when Renney can play his best against anybody and feel confident, which should open things up for guys like Smyth and Hemmer who are still legitimate offensive threats being used slightly outside their skill set at the moment. Re sign Hemmer and Smyth

  • The Farmer

    I have no problem signing Hemsky again, but it has to be short term. The way the kids are playing there is no telling how high we might have to go to match offer sheets in the next couple of years. They cannot get tied down until the kids are locked up and then see where it goes from there.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Even Oiler fans have to admit that was a beautiful hit levelled at 83 last night. Good solid open ice hit straight on. These are the type of collisions the league needs to keep in the game.

    Katz should offer Hemsky 11 over two yrs and put the cards on the table for everyone to see. Not so sure 83 is the victim he’s painted himself as this last weekend. It’s situations like this that has the media and the fans being played here.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I don’t know. Sutton would have got a few for that one. I think Kronwall got the same Elite Team discount the NHL is so fond of that Lucic got earlier in the year.

      @LT:

      Hemsky has 11 points in his last 14 games (.785 PPG). No doubt his production is down this year. But isn’t that to be expected coming off major surgery to both shoulders, missing most of two seasons, missing TC and most of the exhibition games then re-tweaking his shoulder?

      And .785 seems to be moving in the right direction. If he can finish the season with that number he’d end up with 23.5 points in the remaining 30 games for 55.5 points in 69 games (.80 PPG on the season). That would put him back on pace for his career average.

      Bottomline: despite the doom and gloom surrounding Hemsky he’s making up ground and seems to be returning to form.

      Oh and… he shook that Kronwall hit off pretty well and managed to net 2 points all the same. He’s not going to fold like the cheap suit some people (namely Detroit’s PR men and David Staples) seem to expect him to.