Goodbye Ales Hemsky.
Ok, that statement is a few weeks premature, but Oilers fans should start getting used to the idea of Hemsky playing for a different club. As the NHL trading deadline of February 27 approaches, it is a strong likelihood, given his woeful play this season, that the Oilers will part ways with streaky forward. Hemsky has managed only a meagre 11 points this season. Once again he has missed a meaningful part of the season with injuries. His poor production, injuries and looming UFA status are a combination sure to make Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini cringe. In order to break it down in simple terms, here are the arguments for trading Hemsky, followed by the reasons to keep him.
1. Injuries: Hemsky has never played a full 82 games in a single season. He has averaged just above 61 games per season heading into this one, and appears to be on pace to match that number once again. If a player can't stay healthy, it's hard to imagine him contributing to a winning team.
2. Waning production: Hemsky used to be money as point-per-game player. Even as he missed games, he continued to produce one point every time he stepped on the ice. For the first time in his career, though, his numbers are way down this season, tallying a pitiful 11 points through 25 games.
3. Money: The Oilers signed Hemsky to a 5 year deal following the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006 that paid him $4.1M per season. While the term seemed long, the figure seemed like a good value, even at that time, and it only appears to be an even better value now. Surely Hemsky and his agent will point to comparable players around the league (Zetterberg @ $6.0M, Kopitar @ $6.8M, Briere @ $6.5M) and demand a much higher payday should he decide to re-sign in Edmonton.
4. UFA status: Even if the Oilers feel like they have a fair offer prepared for Hemsky, there is no guarantee he will sign it. Hemsky has often been asked about his feelings towards the city, the organization and the likelihood of returning, but his answers have hardly been definitive. Having been with the Oilers since the day he was drafted, Hemsky may be tempted to see what services may be worth on the open market. In other words, not trading him at the deadline carries with it a high risk that he'll walk away on July 1st. Getting some picks and prospects in exchange will add to the Oilers deep stable of young talent.
5. Not part of the future: While the goal is to be competitive now, that just isn't happening in Edmonton. At this rate, it could take several more years before this team has a shot at being a contender. Why pay big money to a player like Hemsky who does not fit a role on a rebuilding team?
1.This team needs secondary scoring. When healthy, Hemsky has proven time and time again that he is capable of providing just that.
2. Franchise player: Hemsky is a cornerstone of this team and has been for many years. Replacing a talent like him won't be easy, so why let him walk away?
3. Experience: Hemsky has always shown good chemistry with Horcoff and Smyth. The trio led the team all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, so it is fair to say that he brings a ton of experience and knows what it takes to win.
4. No fair value in trade market: With his poor numbers this season, is anyone willing to give the Oilers enough value to pry Hemsky away? Considering the ridiculous overpays we've seen at the deadline in recent years, it is not a stretch to think someone would do the same for Hemsky, so this argument for keeping him is not likely to hold.
What do you think? Let me know why the Oilers should trade him or re-sign him. The club will have about eight weeks before they need to make a final decision.