If Ales Hemsky has low value, does it make sense to trade him?

Yesterday, we considered former NHL general manager Craig Button’s point of view on Ales Hemsky – that his trade value is so low that even at a steep discount the Oilers might not get a second round draft pick. While that’s a debatable viewpoint, the truth is that Hemsky is not likely to yield a grand return. With his trade value low, does it even make sense to trade him at this point?

Addition by subtraction?

The temptation here is to say “don’t be an idiot” and move on to the next heading. There’s a vocal subset of the fanbase/media that says things like ‘the Oilers will keep losing as long as Hemsky is in the lineup’ because they’re under the impression that losing is some sort of infectious disease and Hemsky will spread the plague to Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov and all the rest. They do things like call him “the epitome of poor leadership and professional indifference,” “an awful example for an impressionable core” and identify him with a “losing culture.”

It’s funny, reading comments like that, to go back and see what Hemsky had to say when he was being most harshly criticized this season.

Hemsky could have said “I’m playing on a broken foot” and basically earned himself immunity from criticism. Instead, because the team didn’t want him specifying the injury, he kept that to himself – not only that, but he made a point of saying it wasn’t an excuse four times in a three minute clip.

Only after the season did Hemsky really explain what he was going through:

It was a struggle. I wasn’t skating a lot of days, and I couldn’t say anything… but I didn’t want to sit in the stands, so I tried to play through it. I don’t know if it was a smart idea. Maybe I should have taken three weeks off to let it get better. But in the end, I couldn’t do it anymore. It was too much for me, and I wasn’t a factor, either.

This isn’t Mike Grier popping his shoulder back into place on the bench territory, but it’s in the same general family. Personally, I’ve seen Hemsky go into tough areas and take the hit to make a play so often – and he’s paid the price for it, over and over – that I’ve never had any questions about his commitment to winning hockey games. I don’t understand those who do.

The problem

None of this is to say that Hemsky is an ideal fit for the team. He has a good shot that he doesn’t use very much. If offsides relative to ice-time were tracked, I’m confident he’d be among the league leaders. He’s a small, skill right wing on a team abounding in small, skill right wings. He has a significant cap hit. And yes, he’s hurt all the time.

In a perfect world, the Oilers would trade him (because it seems beyond question that Nail Yakupov and Jordan Eberle will be better players going forward) for value. If they can’t get that value, what’s the point? Using Button’s scenario, is a second round draft pick and $2.5 million in cap space really worth it?

They aren’t. The Oilers have to be pushing for a playoff spot next season, and Ales Hemsky can help with that more than a second round draft pick and whatever the Oilers can add from a shallow free agent market for $2.5 million will. Keeping him gives the team options. It gives them the option of moving a guy like Eberle if they get a shot at a legitimate number one defenceman in the prime of his career. It gives them the option of not having the third line be a black hole offensively – and briefly last season, when Magnus Paajarvi and Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov played together on that unit, the team saw how useful three scoring lines could be. It also gives them the option of moving Hemsky at the trade deadline, when player values tend to be at their highest. Finally, if the 29-year old Hemsky can rebound to the near point-per-game level he played at from 2005-2011, it ensures the Oilers and not some other team are the beneficiaries.

I think it makes perfect sense for the Oilers to trade Hemsky if they can get a legitimate return on him. I think it makes no sense to toss him away for a bag of pucks.


Don’t forget that it’s never too late to play StreakCred – the new playoff pool game from the Nation Network. You can win a trip for 2 to Oktoberfest in Germany among the awesome prizes up for grabs. Now only $10 and a portion of the proceeds go to Edmonton Charities. Sign up here.

Recently around the Nation Network

One of the names available in this year’s painfully thin edition of free agency is Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Wellwood, assuming the Jets don’t re-sign him before that. In Kyle Wellwood’s Worth, Travis Hrubeniuk proffers his own answer on whether the Jets should let the veteran walk:

This offseason will be a busy one for the Jets, but one thing is clear to me. They need Kyle Wellwood in a Jets uniform and letting him walk is completely unacceptable.

 Click the link above to read the whole piece, or feel free check out some recent pieces here at Oilers Nation:

  • Eddie Edmonton

    Oilers will keep Hemsky.

    If the Oilers are not in the play-off race come trade deadline, they will trade him for a 2nd round pick. If they are in the play-off race, they will re-sign him for another year in the off-season.

  • Eddie Edmonton

    The Oilers are a better team with Hemsky than without…. period. You will never get full value for him ie. 0.75 PPG. We need at least a couple of veteran players. Like one of the analyst said on TSN you take the veteran you know always before the unknown UFA out there. Furthermore he signed a value contract through his UFA years and a two year extension at a re-assonable price. Trade Gags and be done with it.

  • Eddie Edmonton

    When will everybody learn?



    Our problem is the 4th line!


  • Bushed

    Wayne Gretzky called Hemsky a “special player”.

    Jaromir Jagr wanted him on his line for international games.

    Taylor Hall wants Hemsky on the team.

    At training camp last year one of the kids was asked who the most talented player on the team was. Answer–Hemsky.

    But apparently they`re all wrong…

    If the team makes the playoffs next year, Hemsky`s experience will be valuable. I`m guessing that MacT will not move him for less than good value in return.

  • OilersBrass

    You said it . Trading Hemmer now is a mistake unless real value is there . Real value will be the next trade deadline so live with him on the 3rd line with Magnus & Horc ( or other ). Sometimes your best deal is never done or you wait . We need the “D” “LW” & bigger center . Your up McT.

  • Eddie Edmonton

    HEMSKEY is going into a contract year. On the right line and healthy…. Hemmer could be a point per game player PERIOD!!!

    These types of guys don’t grow on trees.



    Starting a “KEEPING SAMMY GAGS” petition.
    Anyone oppose keeping Sammy Gags speak now or forever hold ur peace.

  • horndog77

    The #1 issue is there’s no one available at free agency, and the players that could be had are no better than the ones they have! The only way Edmonton is getting a good defenseman is by really over paying for him.

  • TKB2677

    Here is my take on the whole issue with Hemsky.

    Many of us have been debating for a few years now if/when to get rid of Hemsky and the argument from most especially people like JW who beat the drum of asset management and getting as much as you can, not trading when the asset is low, etc.

    Again JW says no to trading Hemsky. He says things like “if Hemsky can return to the way he played in the 2005-06 season”. THen he goes on to say he should play on the 3rd line so the third line “isn’t a black hole offensively”. THen he goes on to say that it gives the option of trading Eberle instead so you can get a “legit” player back.

    Hmmm, let me see if I get this straight JW.

    Here is what Hemsky is/isn’t.
    – constantly injured
    – hasn’t been consistent since 06. That is 7 years ago by the way.
    – doesn’t bring it on a nightly basis. Probably doesn’t even bring it half the nights he’s actually in the line up.
    – isn’t big, tough, physical or all that great defensively.
    – Doesn’t kill penalties.
    – A Hemsky run PP typically sucks. Hence why since the Oilers started getting all these high end talents, Hemsky has either moved down the PP or off completely.
    – as you said has a good shot but refuses to shoot.
    – he is a skilled RW but is now third on the depth chart at RW because Eberle and Yakupov are clearly better.

    SO saying all that, let me get this straight. The Oilers need size, grit, toughness, compete and physical play in their line up. They especially need it on their third line. SO you want to put a smallish, non physical, not tough, not that great defensively, doesn’t kill penalties, doesn’t show up a lot of nights, doesn’t bring a lot of energy most nights in Hemsky on the 3rd line RW because you want lots of offence on the 3rd line?

    Who cares if Hemsky does NOTHING a good 3rd liner needs to be able to do. You want offence on the 3rd line.

    Then you go on to say that with Hemsky- your now 3rd best RW. You would trade Eberle who’s MILES better than Hemsky and at least brings it most night for a DMan. So you would significantly down grade the right wing position in your top 6 just because Hemsky doesn’t give you enough back in return.

    So to summarize. You want to play Hemsky on a line in a role where physically and skill set wise, he is the exact opposite of what the Oilers need. Then you would potentially trade Eberle, a RW who other than maybe being not quite as good of a stick handler, is better in all aspects of the game than Hemsky at this point in Hemsky’s career. Not to mention Eberle’s compete level is far superior and he seems to be 10 times more durable. Plus by all accounts Eberle is a leader where Hemsky has never been even close to being a leader. He’s the last guy on the ice for practice, first guy off and has done little to nothing to improve his game. He still can’t one time the puck to save his life after what 10 freaking years in the NHL?? So basically the Oilers in their top 6 at the RW position player wise, will take a huge step back.

    You would do all of this because you potentially can’t get enough in trade. So basically instead of changing the mix, you keep some of the guys that are the problem in the mix.