Saturday, 23 July 2011
07/23/11 56.0 Hall and Hemsky Together > Apart
My, but that hat-trick was sweet. Hemsky assisted on the first two goals, including a beauty give-and-go at the goal mouth. That game was an indication of things to come.
Ironically, the Oilers have been looking for a left winger to fit into the top line ever since Ryan Smyth was traded. Now that he is back, the Oilers have finally got their man - and it isn't Smyth. Dany Heatley, Marian Hossa and Dustin Penner are three wingers that the Oilers have pursued in the interim. While Penner did have one exceptional season in Edmonton, he was never really the answer. In all likelihood, the selection of Magnus Paajarvi was at least partially driven by the need for a left winger that could play opposite Hemsky full time.
With all of this blatant desire on the part of the organization to find a winger that could compliment Hemsky, it should have come as no surprise which player the Oilers selected first overall in 2010. Taylor Hall falling into the Oilers' lap was like a God-send.
Perhaps that is part of the thinking when it comes to how the Oilers have dealt with the Hemsky situation. Now that they clearly have the left winger they wanted, management isn't going to shake things up. If the glimpses of chemistry that Hemsky and Hall have shown continue, it could be a very special tandem indeed.
Of course there's still Jordan Eberle to think about. It's no wonder that Hall and Eberle were placed on a line together for much of the year, considering how dynamic they were together at the World Juniors. During the tournament Oilers fans could only dream of the possibility of having both players, and when it actually happened it was like a dream come true. To put them together in the NHL seemed perfectly natural.
However, Hall and Eberle are both goal scorers, so it doesn't make much sense to keep them together any longer. Trying to force them to stay on the same line because of what they did in one Junior tournament is not the right way to go about things, especially now that they are both in the NHL with players that can better compliment their abilities.
Perhaps one day (maybe next year, maybe not) when Nugent-Hopkins is the set-up center on the top line, it will make sense to have two goal-scoring wingers play with him. For now though, RNH is not as good as Hemsky; if only because of experience. If Eberle was a center it might also make sense to keep Eberle and Hall together. For the time being, it seems best to ease Nugent-Hopkins in with a second line role, where he can feed pucks to another former WHLer in Eberle. On the top line Gagner and Hemsky can hopefully find Hall 30-40 times this season, and it will create a nice and balanced one-two attack.
There's no doubt that as Eberle and Hall improve they will be able to be effective with each other, but as long as the Oilers have one of the league's better set up men in Hemsky, they might as well utilize him with Hall.
Of course this all hinges on the Oilers staying the course and not trading their best player over the last several years. This blog has not exactly shied away from the idea of trading Hemsky, but that window seems to have closed now.
Trading Hemsky for a high pick in the 2011 Draft might have made sense since that player could have been in the Oilers lineup on opening night in 2011-12 and been all but guaranteed to be an Oiler for a good long time. Trading Hemsky for an established, up-and-coming player might also have made sense, but with only one year left on Hemsky's contract that probably won't happen. Hemsky has the chance to move on if he chooses after next year, but Oilers management is obviously banking on that not happening.
Ales Hemsky will be 28 at the start of next season, which means that if the Oilers can manage to sign him to an extension they will still get at least 4-6 years of high end play from him. That fits into the long term plans just fine. As a matter of fact, there wouldn't be any talk of trading Hemsky at all if it weren't for the fact that his contract is about to expire and also the way that players have recently been leaving Edmonton as if it were Old Testamant Egypt.
If for whatever reason the Oilers decide to trade Hemsky, it will be better to do it at this year's trade deadline instead of right now. Right now teams see that Hemsky has one year left on his contract and shy away, but when those same teams are trying to win a Stanley Cup they'll be willing to pay a huge price for a player that only has a few months left on his deal.
But whatever the Oilers get for Hemsky probably won't be as valuable as having him on board, considering that only contending teams with mid-late first round picks will trade for him. The fact that Hemsky hasn't been traded already means that:
a) none of the offers have been good enough to this point
b) the Oilers feel that they have a decent shot to get him re-signed
c) all of the above
The Oilers won't let Hemsky walk for nothing, but let's all get together now and hope that he wants to stay. It would give the team a fantastic mix of scorers and set-up men in their top six, which would be deadly for years to come.
"Hemsky dangles across the blueline, threads the needle over to Hall, who scores!"
Has a nice ring to it.
GO ESKS GO!