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

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Friday, 10 February 2012

02/10/12 Tambellini Botched the Hemsky Situation

Robin Brownlee wrote an article that appeared on OilersNation today which encapsulates all of the most frustrating feelings when it comes to the Ales Hemsky situation. We're at the point now where none of the moves that are possible make sense. No matter what happens, this issue will help fan the flames of hatred toward Steve Tambellini.

In the past I've been quick to point out that not all of the problems with the Oilers are the result of Tambellini's work in Edmonton, but the way Ales Hemsky has been handled is unquestionably a glaring wart on the General Manager's resume. Hemsky's play of late hasn't made things easy, but regardless of that there were better options.

As yet, there appears to be very little interest on Oilers management's side in signing the enigmatic winger to a contract extension, which implies that they knew they were going to trade him all along. If that is the case, why not move him at the deadline last year? Hemsky was healthy for the month of February last season, and posted 4-8-12 in 13 games. March 1st was his last game of 2010-11. Tambellini may have thought that Hemsky's value would increase this season if he successfully returned from injury and played like he was in a contract year, but that hasn't been the case. In any event, Hemsky is still just a rental player this year, which means the ceiling for his value is only so high no matter how well he plays. Whatever deals Tambellini walked away from in February or back in June at the draft are going to look pretty sweet when compared to the current value of #83.

With that said, there's always the option of signing the player to an extension, which management seems to think is not an option. There are only so many top six wingers out there and the Oilers are about to let one slip through their fingers. Barring some kind of amazing turnaround, the situation is an embarrassment.

Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford is making the Oilers look even worse. Realizing how difficult it would be to replace the players he already has, Rutherford locked up Tim Gleason to a four year contract extension and has expressed a desire to sign Tuomo Ruutu. Ruutu was supposed to be the first big shoe to drop and set the market value for a top-six forward, but he may not be moved at all. The Hurricanes will no doubt try very hard over the next couple of weeks to come to an agreement with Ruutu, and failing that they still have the option to trade him. That's how you handle your players properly and with respect.

By comparison, what the Oilers appear to be doing is just bizarre. If management fails to show any commitment to Hemsky, what possible reason would he have for wanting to stay in Edmonton?

An asset that was once valuable enough to be in the conversation of a Brayden Schenn trade is now at risk of leaving this city forever for next to nothing. Unless one of the teams that is in the market for a top-six forward overpays at the deadline, this gross miscalculation will be one of the worst of Tambellini's tenure.


  1. Back on January 20th, my thoughts:

    "at this point I believe both the Edmonton Oilers and Hemsky would prefer to part ways. What the Oilers will get in return might surprise and anger many Oilers fans. At best, a very late first round draft pick and a prospect. Worse case scenario, a second round pick and a prospect. Don't compare Hemsky's trade to that of Dustin Penner's. Penner did not have a history of shoulder problems, was not struggling to the extent that Hemsky is and he still had another season remaining on his contract."

    Today, a pick or a prospect ... not both.

    It was claimed, by Dreger and Rishaug, that the Red Wings may no longer have interest in Hemsky. Another option gone as a result of a team seeing, first hand, just how poorly Hemsky is playing this season.

  2. You're right, and yet at last year's deadline Hemsky was worth more than Dustin Penner. An opportunity squandered, considering how little interest the Oilers have shown in keeping Hemsky around.

  3. I don't think, even last year, there was any intension to sign Hemsky beyond this season. Really, how could there be? He would want upwards of 5 million a year and a long-term deal. Eventually he would be relegated to the second line and Oilers management had to know full-well that Hall, Paajarvi, Ebs, Petry another potential #1 pick would garner significant contracts during the term of any new deal that Hemsky would sign. Also, the Oilers must have felt and still feel that they are going to have to dip into the UFA market even further in the next two or three off-seasons. The Oilers saw the errors of the Blackhawks and were not willing to repeat them. In addition, the Oilers were not and are not willing to gamble on Hemsky and his health. Really, what we have here is very poor asset management and as a result, Hemsky will give the Oilers 1/2 of the return that they would have received last year or even a month ago.

  4. Agreed. And if Hemsky would have been traded when his value was highest, the Oilers might not be scrambling to add a top defenseman right now. Anything other than what actually happened would have made more sense. One wonders how much Hemsky's situation (and the deadline as a whole) is playing a part in the Tambellini extension.

  5. Outside of plucking Jones off of the waiver wire and perhaps the signing of Sutton, there is very little to praise this GM for.

    He will be extended and this summer, as well as next February, will be his last chance to prove his worth. 2 year deal, easier pill to swallow if he has to be relieved on his duties after next season.