If the Oilers are going to trade a right wing…

The Oilers have three excellent right wings on the team right now; in terms of depth, no position is stronger. Jordan Eberle, Ales Hemsky and Nail Yakupov are all excellent skill players, and in a perfect world the Oilers would keep all of them. Unfortunately, as the team’s record shows, the Oilers aren’t a perfect team and it seems entirely plausible that they will move one of these players to address problems elsewhere on the roster.

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So who goes?

Ales Hemsky

The case to keep him. In terms of value to his team when healthy, Hemsky stands up pretty well on this list. He’s obviously a better NHL’er in the here and now than Nail Yakupov, a 19-year old playing his first season of professional hockey. Despite the widely perceived difference in their talent levels, the version of Hemsky who played for the Oilers from 2005-11 stacks up pretty well against Jordan Eberle, too. Critics happily point to his low goal totals, ignoring the fact that he led the Oilers in scoring for four consecutive years and was often the lone tent pole holding up a flagging offence. To pick the most egregious example, in 2007-08 Hemsky scored just 20 goals but he would have led the team in total points even if he hadn’t scored one. Most of all, though, Hemsky’s perceived trade value is much lower than the other two players on this list: the names available for a package centered on Hemsky aren’t going to compare with the names available for a package centered on Eberle or Yakupov.

The case to trade him. While Hemsky’s past work may be underappreciated, he’s slowed of late. His scoring dropped off last season and his ability to drive shots and scoring chances has dropped off this year. He turns 30 in the summer. Injuries will always be a concern. In terms of salary, his current deal only has a $1 million lower cap hit than Jordan Eberle’s upcoming contract. Put shortly: right now he may not be the player he once was, his bargain contract days are in the past, and he’s on the wrong side of his career curve.

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Jordan Eberle

The case to keep him. This is an easy case to make, so there isn’t much point in belabouring it. Eberle is 22 years old and scored 34 goals and 76 points last year. He is beloved in the market (not least by our fine proprietor). He is a very good young player and there isn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t love to have him on the roster.

The case to trade him. Really it starts with the last line of the last paragraph: every team in the league would love to have this player. The trade value of a player like Eberle is extreme; if the Oilers want to add, say, a young number one defenceman to improve the club’s balance Eberle is more likely to land that guy than Hemsky or Yakupov. That’s the biggest single reason an Eberle trade makes some sense. There’s more, though. Eberle is about to get paid ($6 million/year for the next six seasons) and there is still some question about how good he is offensively. A lot went right last year – from personal shooting percentage to on-ice shooting percentage to the matchups he played – and it’s far from certain he can continue to put up the sort of numbers he did last season.

Nail Yakupov

The case to keep him. Yakupov’s raw, but he might end up a franchise player. This is the guy who beat Steve Stamkos rookie records in Sarnia, the guy who out-scored Taylor Hall in their respective draft years prior to injury, and the guy who even ignoring injury looked a lot like Tyler Seguin at the same age. He skates like the wind, might already be the best pure shooter on the team, and doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his willingness and ability to play a physical game (he’s sort of the opposite of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins physically; one is reasonably tall and lanky, the other shorter but solid). Even with the caliber of the young talent on this Oilers’ team, when all of these guys are in their prime Yakupov might end up as the best in the group – he’s that talented. There is a huge amount of risk in trading a player with his physical talents.

The case to trade him. In a word: need. It’s the same case that was made when the question of whether or not to draft Yakupov was asked: do the Oilers really need another young winger, or are they better off addressing another position? Yakupov’s upside makes him an extremely attractive commodity on the trade market, should the Oilers choose to go that route.

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  • JDP

    Totally different era. Hows that crazy? I dont see him adding another foot and 40 lbs. Dont get me wrong..Im a HUGE rnh fan….but he can do way better playing 2nd line minutes.

  • Where's Your Towel

    Is or isn’t Kadri one of the 10 leading scorers among centers? When someone uses quantitative examples, you don’t get to throw out the ones you don’t agree with.

    Or maybe you have a different idea regarding the role of a first line center? If it’s not scoring points, what do you propose?

  • Can we please, PLEASE stop valuing players based on what they did 5 freakin’ years ago? Ales Hemsky is/was a wonderful player but no way in hell is he anywhere near what he used to be. For every game he’s on these days he usually follows up with a half dozen where he’s off. You trade him in a package if you have to, but he has to be the guy to go.

    Eberle/Nuge/Hall have the potential to be our #1 anchor line, the likes of which we haven’t had in years. The upside of that trio far outweighs any consideration to break them up.

    Yes. I know we still need some key pieces. But we won’t make any progress if we give away a key piece to get a key piece. No way we win that trade within the greater context of the team’s makeup.

    Ales Hemsky is NOT a key piece of this team going forward. That’s just a reality.

    [NOTE] Sorry Travis.

  • match16

    Two players I would trade are Hemsky and Gagner ….. The player oilers should target would be Roman Josi from Nashville and Keith Yandle from Phoenix . Also sign mark streit as a ufa. No more draft picks . These Both Phoenix and Nashville need offence and oilers need defence.

  • match16

    It pains me to say this, but we need to deal Hemsky this off-season. His value is higher now than it ever will be. His new team would have a full year to evaluate his talent level and come up with an extension. We need NHL ready players, not draft picks and very few hockey deals are made at the deadline. Deadline deals are mostly salary dumps, rentals and the odd change of scenery deals. Let’s not make the same mistake as the Flames did by waiting forever to deal Iggy.

    Sentiment needs to be taken out of the equation. This is a business now more than ever. Hemsky did the heavy lifting during some awful seasons. He needs a change of scenery just as much as we do. There will be teams who underperform down the stretch and will feel the heat to upgrade their offense. Strike while the iron is hot. It’s a moving target but the kids as a top line and Gagner-Yakupov with a power forward on LW would be a solid top 6 mix in my opinion.

  • Rob...

    Would a trade for Adam Larrson make sense. Hemsky for Larrson. New Jersey needs scoring. They could easily address that by getting Hemsky. larrson is still a project with huge upside. He’d fit well with klefbom don’t you think?

  • GVBlackhawk

    You have won me over again Willis..

    Seems like most Edmonton Media people think that it’s an emergency to trade Yakupov and get a Center or Defenceman for him..and that We totally screwed up by not picking Galchenyuk first overall even though Gagner is ahead in points on a bunch of first line centers in league.

    Since when has a first overall pick not gone on to become an absolute superstar? Patrick Stefan? It’s been a while..about 12 years and scouting has improved alot since.

    It seemed like Eberle had a ton more hustle in his last game..also happened to be the first game he was back playing with RNH and Hall..yet apparently it all had to do with his hand feeling better.
    Your hand doesn’t magically heal over two days if it’s been bothering you for two months..
    or maybe it does..

    I dunno, maybe I’m over thinking it..I remember Eberle having a slow start last season as well, maybe he’s just a slow starter?

    I think Willis is right when he says Yakupov could be the best player of the bunch in a few years..he also plays with the most grit, which our team lacks so why trade it when it’s so hard to find?

    Hemsky for a solid third line center/or 3-4 defenceman plus a late first round/early second round pick is what I suggest.

    Start playing Yakupov on the right side of Gagner at least 15 mins a night and he will start producing alot more.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    That big burly winger the Oilers desperatley need could already be on their roster. Why not give Peckham an opportunity to mash up front. Probably has better wheels than Lucic.

        • Rob...

          I never said he had better wheels than Lucic. But he might be effective on the fourth line against the “heavy” teams that give the Oilers so much trouble. He is a big hitter and no one has ever accused him of being afraid to push back.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Clyde just wants to keep things the way they are. The direction of this team doesn’t warrant questioning. Going on 4 first overalls isn’t the time to start making changes. We’re so close to winning it all, Frog doesn’t want to rock the boat yet.

            Lucic may be setting the bar too low, maybe Pecks could be a tad smaller faster version perhaps. Put your man down/initiate the violence, ask questions later type.

          • WinterNightSky

            Comment #83, in the quote from Oil Change…..just buy a new car already.: “Probably has better wheels than Lucic.”

            Also remember that Peckham has bricks for hands, so he probably won’t be the goal scorer we might’ve hoped for.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Of the three right wingers, Hemsky clearly is the one to move. I don’t see an immediate need to trade by the deadline. Bigger trades seem to happen before the draft, so the Oilers should be patient, unless a good deal arises. Yakupov and Eberle need some time here with an improved team before they can truly be evaluated.

    The player who clearly has to be moved prior to the deadline is Whitney. Whitney plus one of the prospects might generate a useful player.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    To those who suggest Hall would be unhappy with Eberle being moved, and that they are a package deal, you all have very short memories.

    Obviously not in the same vain as it pertains to talent, but at the time, Gags and Cogs were our wunderkid duo, and its not as if Gagner asked to be traded once they moved Cogliano.

    Hall is a pro, and would continue to be one if Eberle was traded.

    • Rob...

      Who is suggesting Hall would ask to be traded?

      Though if you’re going to cherry pick duo effects, how about also throwing in Stoll & Torres. When Stoll was traded, Torres (his good buddy) went off the deep end with the organization, and had to be promptly sent elsewhere.

  • WinterNightSky

    We dont need to trade a RW. We are fine with the depth we have. In fact we only need a FO pro and a legitimate starting goalie, and both these need to be in the league top 5 for the last three out of five years to even be considered because we will pay dearly for those two assets.

    The FO pro can pretty much knock anyone but Nuge out of his spot on the roster thats how we define who we trade from this point forward, we have a solid core and the only moves we need to make are proactive ones not reactive ones.

    You cant win games without the puck, you need to consistantly win FOs in the NHL to be sucessfull at the championship level unless your system is designed to compensate for a weakness on the dot which can certainly be done,its that simple, so because we dont want to play a style that is defensivly catalysed we need to be able to dominate this critical part of the game. We dont have time to wait for the kids to develop this skillset we need to buy it, it is one of the two things we will rock the boat to aquire.

    Yakupov stays before both Hemmer and Ebbs. No brainer there, we havent had his level of shot here in 20 years, hes going to break records here next year. He might be a multi-goal phenom who scores them in twos threes and fours not one by one. His shot is literally overpowering and we havent even showcased him the slightest this year, its been an easy breakin period for him. I think he needs more pressure myself and we need to push him harder every night by giving him more responsibility .

    Ebbs is a true sniper who is really tough and has a heart big enough to be willing to play hurt and banged up and his shot is his best weapon and his shiftiness his second weapon. His style of play makes him a threat all over the o-zone as a scorer. He needs a zone traverse specialist to support him.He is a consistant scorer who can generate multi-goal games when he is dialed in but is also an underrated passer.

    Hemmer is a zone transition machine on the one-man rush, he is a Sedin-Dream, but has a history of injuries, his speed is his best weapon and his pass is his second weapon. His style of play makes him a threat primarily on the rush as a passer. He needs a huge forward or two to hold real estate in front of the net for his passes because thats the only place they are really effective and its where you need ,massive bodies to be sucessful. hemmer is a zone entry specialist and he is elite at it.

    Right now we need all three of these players for the skillsets listed, but we can benerate zone entrys with system support, and we need our high speed zone entry men to be shooters as much as passers so they force defenses to transition more often and wider to open things up for our skillsets, so if we have to trade one it has to be Hemmer. MPS is already a better zone tranverser than Hemmer is and hall has blazing speed and loves to shoot the puck. we have two zone entry specialists left so we are alright, but we need to be more aware of this ability than any other, had we not had two legitimate NHL level specialists to back us up we couldnt afford to lose hemsky like the entire time we have had him, this is the first real chance we have had to move him in many years and its only because MPS has removed any doubt about his ability to play full time top6 minutes here as a zone entry specialist. I deally we would have Hall leading the charge on the 1st line, MPS on the 2nd and Hemsky on the 3rd, in my opinion this gives us a serious playoff level ability to ice a balanced scoring lineup based off of those three outstanding zone entry specialists, you see its either dependance on excellent system execution from everyone for 60 mins or we micro-manage and let these three handle the heavy lifting for us and reduce the margins of error game in and game out, these three are a better bet than system consistancy is on any team. It is very rare to have 3 men with this skillset on the team at the same time.

    I look for zone entry specialists on the roster and for other skills that I priorise so highly that to say I would make a positional change arbitrarily would be impossible, as you can see Hemmers value is defined not by the other right wingers we have at all but by his elite NHL level zone entry ability.

    Its easy to get fooled by statistics look at Halls points this year, you could be fooled into thinking he is having a better year than his linemates based on points, but you would be missing the point of HOW he has gotten his points and at what cost and to whom, its a nice question to take time to answer for yourself.

  • WinterNightSky

    Willis: This is the kind of comment that just sums up the OIL fan psyche for the last 20 years: “and he’s on the wrong side of his career curve” – are you kidding me: 29 years old, and he’s on the wrong side of career? That’s the problem with Edmonton: they have guys under 23 and over 35: either too young or too old.. And you are suggesting just because he’s in prime and he’s a winger who shoots right: it’s time to dump him. Oh my good, that is so unfounded.

  • WinterNightSky

    The Oilers will never get young defenceman like Laarson or Ekman-Larsson by offering up Hemsky. Who the heck wants an aging, skilled, often injured winger for their franchise defenceman? If you want someone like Ekman-Larsson, the Oilers will have to deal one of their elite forward prospects, or package their 1st rounder, Gagner, and maybe a second aswell. I would certainly be okay with that if it meant prying Ekman-Larrson out of PHX.

    And the Oilers still have Klefbom in their pipeline, who looks like a bluechipper on the backend, so even if the Oilers dont deal for a defenceman they’ll be ok.

  • I have no problem keeping all three. I think they all add to this club, and my guess is Hemsky will take a hometown discount to stay with this club.

    I also think that losing Hemsky hurts this team next season as it’s an awful lot of pressure on Yakupov. For once, it’s nice not to have to rush a kid into the lineup.

    If I’m GM, I’m doing my best to hang onto all three. The piece I’m dangling? Our first round pick. As a central piece in a package, it should help us address some needs – without depelting other areas of their lineup. It also should allow the Oilers to move forward, much more so than adding another rookie to the lineup would.