So what are these guys doing?

29 Nov

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One day NHL hockey will fix its shit, and when it does the Oilers need to figure what to do with 3 key veterans. Ryan Smyth, Ales, Hemsky, and Shawn Horcoff are veterans of the last Stanley Cup run and represent the Old Oilers on the team. What are the Edmonton Oilers going to do with them?

I’d like to start by saying I have no clue what they do with these guys. I imagine it will have everything to do with what the new CBA looks like when it’s ever agreed upon.

Ales Hemsky

The Oilers, in my opinion, will have the most optiions with Ales Hemsky. I dont care what his detractors say, Ales Hemsky is a world class talent and when he’s healthy he can play with anybody. He carries the puck fearlessly and can feather a pass to anybody on the ice. His price tag is a little on the high side for somebody with so many injuries but if by some miracle he can stay healthy he will deliver.

I think his future on the Oilers is actually on the left side of a line with Yakupov. He’s a vet, he knows what to do in this league and there are simply too many Right Wings on the Oilers. Of the 3 lined up for the top 2 jobs Ales Hemsky is the oldest and most established player. In other circumstances that should probably mean his RW status would be cemented, except the other 2 players are Jordan Eberle (AllStar) and Nail Yakupov (1st Overall Pick). I think its safe to say that these two players and their futures trump the “Veteran” card that Hemsky plays.

It’s not as if 83 hasnt played the LW before either. Near the end of the season Hemsky lined up on the left side on a line with Nuge and Eberle to some excellent results. It might not be his preferred position, but the fact is that the Oilers future at RW is set and doesnt include Hemsky. He’s going to have to migrate to the Port side.

All of that is true if Hemsky’s future is with the Oilers. There is a very real possibility that he wont be an Oiler when the season starts or past the Trade Deadline. Hemsky has a favourable contract for trading in the sense that the buying team is only on the hook for one more season after this one. So they get his services for the remaining year and starting July 1 could start negotiating an extension with him still under contract. He’s a very good player that could complement many teams. Sometimes I wonder what his numbers would look like if he had played with a legit sniper at any time in his Oiler career.

The Oilers have expressed a desire to make a “Wow” trade and Hemsky seems like the most suitable candidate to be included in any major trade. He’s a good player with a fair sized (but not humongous) contract. If the Oilers want something they need to give something up. I cant see a scenario where Ales Hemsky ISNT part of that something.

Ryan Smyth

Ryan Smyth is an Oiler. When he was an Islander, he was an Oiler. When he was a LA King, he was an Oiler. In the documented history of the NHL he is the only player to trade HIMSELF to the Edmonton Oilers. When he was traded in 2007 over a small disparity in salary my heart was ripped out of my chest. It felt like a family member had just died. I drove home in a daze that day wondering which nightmare would come true next.

Ryan Smyth will retire an Oiler and a request to the Vatican will be made so his marriages to the Islanders, Avalanche, and Kings will be annulled in the eyes of God.

The only question that remains is going to be where will he play? The Current Line combinations feature on the Oilers website has him listed as the 2LW. That isnt going to happen. Not when Yakupov comes to town. Smyth’s future (albeit a short one) has him on the 3rd line with Ryan Jones as his RW. Smyth will be called upon from time to time to spot on the scoring lines if ther has been an injury or penalty. Smyth will also play on the 2nd PP unit. You will be able to find him either in the opposing goaltender’s kitchen or his mind. He’ll be the one taking more abuse than he should in the blue paint.

Shawn Horcoff

Poor Shawn Horcoff. At one time he was the 1C of the Oilers, a point per game player, and an All-Star. Unfortunately for the Oilers he was only EVER all of those things at one time. His scoring is trending the wrong direction. His one-timer is laughably off beat with the tune, and his one time dependable faceoff prowess is gone. Shawn Horcoff’s time has past. Unfortunately his contract has not. That contract is an albatross and has been the focal point of Fan displeasure for years.

The only good news on the Horcoff front is that in actual dollars Horcoff will start getting paid less than his Cap hit. That would be good news if the Oilers were trying to hit the Cap floor without actually spending that amount of money. Unfortunately the opposite is true. The Oilers will be a Cap team for a long time if they want to retain all the bright young stars currently in the fold and Horcoff’s contract will be a problem.

He isnt a particularly good player anymore. His contract is restrictive. His leadership has an expiry date. If there is such a thing as a “One Time Amnesty Clause” in the new CBA then Shawn Horcoff would be the prime example of who would be in line for its use.

If he can be bought out without hurting the Oilers Cap them he will be. Or at very least, he should be.

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