Welcome to left wing, Ales Hemsky

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For the most part, the Edmonton Oilers’ forward line combinations at their first full Olympic practice were what one would expect. The first overall picks were kept together, as they had been before the Olympic break. The bottom-nine skaters were exactly the same too, except for one switch: Ales Hemsky took David Perron’s role as second line left wing, while Perron took Hemsky’s spot on the checking line.

What This Isn’t

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Perron, stylistically, is probably a slightly better fit for the third line than the second line but for lots of reasons that isn’t what’s driving this. Perron has history at left wing; Hemsky’s only played a few games there. The top six needs Perron’s chippy play in a worse way than the third line does. Hemsky’s actually been pretty good in a third line role this season.

I’m guessing it also isn’t a desire to try Hemsky at left wing that’s driving this decision. Moving Hemsky to left wing doesn’t really make it much easier to keep him than playing him at right wing does; it just switches the competition from Eberle and Yakupov to Hall and Perron. Unless the Oilers have another destination in mind for Perron (which may be possible depending on return) that move doesn’t help.

What This Is

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So what is driving this? There’s an obvious answer: trade value.

Ales Hemsky showed at the Olympics that he’s still capable of impacting the game in an offensive way. For the Czechs, he worked his way up the lineup after starting as the 13th forward, and by the end of the tournament was the most efficient scorer on a team boasting a bunch of NHL’ers. Two goals against Team USA in a quarterfinal game where much of the Czech team neglected to show up were a fine (personal) end to the tournament, and it’s hard not to wonder what Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was thinking as he saw Hemsky’s performance – especially since Pittsburgh is in need of help at right wing.

Hemsky likely caught a lot of eyes with his Olympic play, and the Oilers can best take advantage of it by ensuring he gets opportunities to keep on rolling. The coaching staff won’t want to disrupt a top line that was looking good, so that leaves two wing positions open and it makes more sense to swap Hemsky with Perron than with Jordan Eberle.

There’s an opportunity here for Hemsky to make a good impression on someone. The Oilers play three games before the NHL trade deadline, all of them at home and all of them against beatable opposition (Minnesota, Calgary, Ottawa). Hemsky’s playing out of position, but he’s playing with good players and a couple of good games in a row here could do wonders for the return Edmonton gets.

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  • Rick Stroppel

    TRADE WITH DETROIT?

    Zetterberg plays left wing. Maybe Holland phoned MacTavish and said “We really need help on left wing…but I don’t know if Hemsky could play there…would be nice to see him in that position for a few games”. If Hemsky is smart (and I think he is) he will play like a demon.

  • Word to the Bird

    It’s funny that I was thinking about how great Hemsky would look in a Pens uniform. I think he’s the most likely contending team that will make a run for him IMO.

    The question is: what sort of return could we see? Pittsburgh’s 1st and a mediocre prospect? Pittsburgh’s 1st rounder has far less value than Edmonton’s, so it’s not like it would fetch the same return. Also, they may want to guarantee the chance to acquire Hemsky considering that he is a great fit.

    • Jason Gregor

      My bet, and there is no evidence backing this up, but I think Mac T wants to trade our 1st round pick for some immediate help on D, but also doesn’t want to miss out on a 1st round selection. It seemed he had a tough ass time trading the pick on draft day, so my thought is that he wants to secure a lower pick with a trade, then e can safely trade away our first round selection. Sure we miss out on Ekblad or a potential second line centre, but the time for waiting for draft picks to develop into a player that can help the team.

      I know they don’t want to sell the future for possible help now, but guaranteed help might be a different story.

      • Randaman

        If trading the pick means keeping Gagner as our 2nd line center, then thumbs down to that.
        We need Bennett or Draisaiti. Ekblad will have a nice career in Calgary because they will be picking ahead of us.

    • bazmagoo

      Hemsky to Pittsburgh for Simon Despres. Simon is right on the cusp of making the NHL and is putting us some solid numbers down in the AHL. Has some NHL experience, size, left sided. Perfect fit for the Oilers.

      Still a prospect, so no guarantee he’s a difference maker, but he’s much better than a pick in my opinion.

  • horndog77

    So would the oilers first this year plus next years and Gagner and Klefbom be enough to get Shea Weber? I would hope so. Stud defensemen are not cheap, and only way I see Edmonton getting what they need is by packaging players and picks

    • bazmagoo

      Personally I think the only trade for a #1 d-man that really makes sense is for the Oilers to trade Eberle to Phoenix for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Perfect potential partner for Justin Schultz, playing big minutes for the Coyotes currently. Both have 5 years left on their contract, similar dollar values. Oilers have an abundance of forwards, Coyotes have an abundance of defensemen. Sounds like a match to me. Do it MacT!

    • Randaman

      No way they’d trade Weber for 3 maybe’s and 1 not-ever-going-to be.
      It would take someone off the top line,a good defenceman(Petry?) and then some maybe’s…minimum….and then try and talk Weber into accepting that trade.

    • Word to the Bird

      If the Oilers were serious about acquiring Weber, the asking price would likely be Eberle, Gagner, and the 2014 first round selection. Even then they might want a Klefbom-esqe prospect in that package.

      Even if it was Hall the package would probably be Hall and the 2014 first round pick. Either way, it is simply too high of a price to pay.

      • Zamboni Driver

        This is the truth…Weber = Taylor Hall (probably plus), but Nashville isn’t listening to Eberle and Gagner, sorry folks.

        Weber is not only the best player on Nashville, he’s probably top 5 in the league.

        Irrespective of that….assuming Weber has a no trade (if players like Gagner have even a modified version, you’d think that GOOD players would too) – why in the world would Weber come here?

        You been outside today?

        *I* don’t want to be here.

        • Word to the Bird

          I’m just saying that’s what the price would be, I’m not suggesting we should do that. I was only responding to horndog77.

          Personally, these are defensemen I’d go for: Yandle, Josi, Myers, and Buff (maybe roll the dice on him and hope Eakins can kick him into shape?)

          • Zamboni Driver

            I do tend to go on and on….I actually was agreeing with you!

            We ain’t gettin’ Weber, no way no chance no how. Assuming he would consider coming here (and he wouldn’t), if it TOOK Hall (and it would) that would make a putrid team WORSE.

        • Word to the Bird

          Nashville would have to be totally insane to trade Weber. The cost / lose to another team would be too high. He is the face of the franchise, still young enough and worth more now after the Olympics than before.

          I would rather go after Jones and trade Gagner or Hemsky with our first pick.

          Hall, Eberle, Yakapov, Perron, JShultz, RNH to me are all untouchable and the foundation to the rebuild.

          I do not think that we have to rebuild the whole team, but believe we are just a couple players away from having a future play off contending team.

          • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

            If those are the core of our rebuild, we are in trouble. We are in 29th with those 6 as our core. We will never. Never. Ever. Make the playoffs with those 6 on our team. MAYBE with 4, and possibly only with 3 or less. Why do I say that? Because you aren’t getting a #1 d man without 1 or 2 or those guys headed out of town. That, plus the whole sandpaper / grit factor is seriously lacking in the top 6. I thought all of Edmonton knew that.

            Apparently I was wrong.

          • BobbyCanuck

            You are not wrong, we tend to over value the current love affair of the day.

            All our players should be trade bait. RNH with his bum shoulder; Why in God’s name are we playing Hall with a knee brace, I guess we want to end his career or something…

            All we need is:

            Hall-1C (win faceoff, 200 ft game)-Power winger

            2RW(200ft game, power)-2c (see above)-Yakapov

            Look at the Russian Olympic team; loaded with goal scorers, and look what happend to them.

            If we can get Weber, maybe we can trade for the other missing pieces, don’t know what to do, just venting comments from the 6th Tier

  • horndog77

    With the home games, the Oilers will get their preferred match-ups with last change. If they are trying to trade him, which must be the case, then give him all the softy O-zone starts possible and weakest of defense pairings.

    • BobbyCanuck

      You are going on the assumption that all NHL GM’s are as tunnel visioned, and short sighted as ours. Not going to fool any decision makers by playing Hemsky in softy O zone, or against 5/6 D pairings.

      We need to play Hemsky against the best compitition, give him decent linemates…and watch his value soar, very little downside in giving our trade baits the best possible chance to showcase thier respective talents, its not like we have anything but self-respect to play for anyways, and now with Tavaris out for the season, unlikely we will when the lotto yet again

  • Randaman

    I could see Hemsky being traded to the Czech team… I mean the NJ Devils.

    They are right on the playoff cusp. They need playoff revenue. Hemsky would fit right in there. Adam Larson, for Hemsky and Gagner.

    • Word to the Bird

      Would be a fit on that team for sure. How about
      Andy Greene coming back, not likely they would part with Larson, as they are giving him time in the minors to develop.

      • Word to the Bird

        I really think they could get Larson out of the Devils. I would love to see it. Gagner and Hemsky would get it done. Maybe even a conditional 3rd if Hemsky resigns with them.

  • Zamboni Driver

    This is a good trade market for Hemsky. If any teams are balking at the price for Vanek and other top 6 forwards out there, giving up a 2nd rd pick plus maybe another mid-pick, would seem very cheap.

    For the same reasons, it’ll be tougher to move Sam Gagner this trade deadline. I wouldn’t expect anything on this front until the summer.

  • D

    It’s very plausible that a team has asked to see Hemsky on the left side. 6 rings just spent a ton of time hanging with the GM gang. Otherwise, to showcase him they could have bumped him to 2RW and had Eberle play on his offwing – that would seemingly be the spot where he could gets the most points (other than on the Nuge wing).

  • Word to the Bird

    A Weber for Hall+ would be an ugly trade, but think about how good both teams would be! Edmonton would actually have a capable defenseman to log big minutes with Jultz on the top line. As for the Preds, Nashville has a good defense and a player like Hall would rack up points with a center such as Mike Fisher. Again, not saying we should go for Weber, but it makes you wonder.

    On a side note, the kids like country music a lot don’t they? It could be a match made in heaven!

  • Word to the Bird

    This is correct. Webber could not be traded until one year from the date Nashville matched the offer. Now they can trade him.

    They likely won’t. But they could.

  • Word to the Bird

    If you’re looking to aquire Weber, you’re looking at giving up a ton.

    Hall or RNH
    Nurse
    Oilers 1st Round Pick 2014.

    If you are Nashville, you hang up the phone for anything less. There is no reason to accept anything less than above. Unless they can’t actually afford to pay his contract, they have no reason to move him.

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        Don’t forget, Weber is more or less the best D man on the planet. Any trade involving him will also involve an overpay.

        The Weber proposals have gotta stop, the Oilers are never getting him.

        • Lofty

          You never win if you buy high and sell low. If the goal is to be regular cup contender, then you cant buy Weber with pre-peak elite NHL talent.

          Reminds me of the Pujols deal in baseball. Looks worse by the year, and it’s not chump change on the line.