I recently realized that I had made a major shift in the way I envisioned the future of the Oilers. I have just recently become comfortable with the idea of trading Hemsky away.
Let’s be clear about one thing, I am not a member of the “Hemsky Sucks” mouth breathing club. Ales Hemsky has my eternal respect as a hockey player. For what has seemed like an eternity he was the best player on a middling to shitty club. There was a fairly long time where shutting down Ales Hemsky was the same thing as shutting down the Oilers. He carries the puck with gusto, goes to the hard areas, and makes plays that until recently most other Oilers couldnt dream of and often couldnt really anticipate.
But those days are over now. Ales isnt the only Oiler that can make or finish a play. The Oilers have All-Star Jordan Eberle and a trio of 1st Overall picks to push the puck up ice. The fact is the Oilers have a bevy of young dynamic forwards and Hemsky isnt counted in that group. AH isnt exactly long in the tooth by any means, he is still under 30 years old, but his shoulders have been through a lifetime of abuse. Surgeries and missed time have become the new normal for Hemsky, who for a large chunk of last season appeared to be a shadow of himself. By the end of the year Hemmer came on strong and looked by eye to be back to his old self. In all honesty I expect him to have a bounce back season.
The problem here is that there are too many good RWs on the Oilers depth chart and not enough good Defensemen or dependable Goaltending. Sure, Yakupov hasnt played a single game in the NHL, but we’ve seen enough 1st overall talents come to town recently to believe Yak will be anything but exactly as he was billed. Combine that with his shredding of the KHL and I think its safe to say that it’s only a matter of time before Yakupov is a full-time top 6 player, and he plays RW.
Now Kruger has mentioned that N64 might go try his hand on the port side, but how long will that experiment last? Maybe as long as Hall at center? In other words, not too long at all. So Hemsky will most likely be asked to play LW at some point in the season. There isnt anything wrong with that idea, but still you have to start asking how long that will last before management tries to shore up the Club’s deficiencies.
The Oilers are woefully inept at D and G. With players like Hemsky, Hartikainen, Smyth, and Paajarvi the Oil have options for their top six and 3 of them can play the Left Wing very comfortably. Only Hemsky stands out as a natural RW. Something has to give. Now I cant easily remove the Orange coloured glasses that come with being an Oilers fan, but I would have to think that the best trade bait on the Oilers asset list is either Ales Hemsky or Teemu Hartikainen. Teams just need to have a preference, plug and play veteran or youthful prospect.
Considering the Oilers have been waiting for someone like Hartikainen to come along for ages, my guess would be that the Oil would trade Hemsky sooner than the big Finn. And I’m fine with that, but only if the return can play in the top defensive pairing or backstop Edmonton for 60 games a year. There have been so many rumours of late that one’s hopes start to get up. Can Hemsky be a part of a package that nets unsigned Montreal D-man PK Subban or openly available goalie Roberto Luongo?
I cant say for sure, but I can say that I am finally comfortable with the idea of trading 83 for the first time since he became an Oiler.