a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Thursday, 12 January 2012

01/12/12 Hollywood Hemsky?

So Dean Lombardi apologized for his Bernie Madoff comments during Mulletgate and that's got David Staples at the Cult of Hockey wondering if it's no coincidence that this about-face is happening just 46 days before the trade deadline. It's especially fishy as the Oilers happen to have a certain offensive winger who may or may not be available in a trade, and the Kings happen to be the lowest scoring team in the league.

Yes, you read that right. Even after acquiring Mike Richards in the off season the Kings are last in the NHL in total goal output with 90 in 43 games. A 2.09 Goals per Game average is not going to win you many hockey games, and that's precisely why the Kings are sitting in eighth place in the West instead of being comfortably inside the playoffs as many predicted before the season. Right wingers Dustin Brown and Justin Williams are both having off years and have combined for just 17 goals so far.

Ales Hemsky won't bring a lot of goal scoring to any team's lineup, but when he's on his game he can be a strong catalyst to help other players find the back of the net. Hemsky may not be having a great year, but things have reached the point in LA where something must be done to spark that offense, and that could make number 83 an attractive option.

Just how attractive remains to be seen. Obviously Dean Lombardi is keenly aware of how badly he got burned in the Dustin Penner trade last season, and he won't be in any hurry to repeat that mistake. On the other hand, this was supposed to be the year that the Kings really took a step forward. Certainly home ice advantage was in the plan, and nothing less than winning one round in the playoffs will do in order to call 2011-12 a success in LA. If the Kings merely sneak into the playoffs they'll be in tough against teams like Vancouver, Chicago and Detroit, so Lombardi might want to make a move soon so that his team can make up as much ground in the standings as possible.

We know for certain that the Kings have interest in Hemsky. The winger was definitely in the conversation at last year's trade deadline, but a suitable deal was never on the table for either side. The Oilers wanted Brayden Schenn and Lombardi wisely declined to make that deal, opting instead to use his prized prospect to bring in the aforementioned Richards. Now that Hemsky is a pending UFA and not lighting it up offensively, the asking price will be greatly reduced. So much so that a deal could very well be struck.

The Oilers already plucked one defense prospect out of LA's system with the acquisition of Colten Teubert, and Hemsky could allow them to add another. The Kings' prospect depth is still heavy on defensemen, which may make Viatcheslav Voynov available.

Voynov, the 32nd overall pick in the Eberle draft (2008), has collected 4-6-10 and a plus-2 rating in 24 games for the Kings this year. Already in his third full season for the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL last year, Voynov posted 15-36-51 and a plus-21, as well as 2-3-5 in 7 playoff games. At 5'11" and 193 pounds, he doesn't have ideal size for a defender, but the Oilers sorely need offense from the backend. With Peckham, Teubert, Smid, Plante, Musil and Klefbom in the system, there's enough size and strength to afford the Oilers a quality offensive D-man.

The Oilers may want more than just a prospect for Hemsky, but Voynov would be a good starting point to a deal. He has tools that the Oilers need and he's ready for the big show right now. If Edmonton were to get him their blue line might not look half bad in the not-so-distant future.

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