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.