• A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country

    by  • January 27, 2010 • Uncategorized • 20 Comments

    I’m going to get around to writing something about the new new plan at some point – short form: I don’t think that this team particularly needs a tear down at this point, it just needs some skilled hands demolishing and renovating certain parts – but I wanted to write something about Ales Hemsky.

    Hemsky isn’t a player who I’ve talked about a lot but he’s one who I enjoy watching. I’m a fan of his, although I’ll admit to having wondered from time to time about him on the power play because of the exceedingly low shot rates that the Oilers have with him on the ice. He’s an unusual player and a frustrating one.

    The sense amongst the fans in Edmonton, I think it’s fair to say, is that Ales always leaves you wanting more. I remember reading a description of Wayne Gretzky somewhere that was something along the lines of “You don’t notice him but then you look at the scoresheet at the end of the night and he has four points.” With Hemsky, you notice him all night long and then you check the scoresheet and there’s nothing but an assist.

    I do, however, think that Hemsky gets a little less appreciation than he ought to because of the fact that he’s stuck in the Western Conference. I think it’s fairly well known amongst readers of this site that the Western Conference has been, over the past few years, both the better conference and the more defensive conference. The temptation, I think, is to think that the Eastern Conference is the more offensive conference because it has so many more talented offensive players. I’m not entirely sure that this is the case.

    I assembled a list of the Top 50 pts/game forwards for the seasons between 2007-09 (min. 42 GP). It’s actually pretty evenly divided – 25 guys who were primarily EC guys, 24 who were primarily WC and Marian Hossa. The EC guys have a distinct advantage in terms of pts/game over that time period – 1.02 pts/gm to 0.97 pts/gm for the Western Conference guys.

    When you dig down and do a bit of an apples to apples comparison though, you see that the WC players hold their own. If you look only at games against the EC, the EC guys score 0.42/0.62/1.04 (G/A/P per game) and the WC guys score 0.38/0.66/1.04. In games against the WC, the EC guys score 0.37/0.55/0.92; the WC guys score 0.36/0.59/0.95. If you were to do an average, so as to even the playing field, you come up with 0.98 pts/gm for the EC guys and 0.99 pts/gm for the Western Conference guys in that period. The offensive stars of the WC produced slightly more offensively than the offensive stars of the EC in that time; it’s just hidden by schedule effects.

    Which brings us back to Hemsky. He’s 37th in the NHL in pts/gm between 2007-09. If you adjust to take away the schedule effect, he vaults to 13th place in the league. If you think that MacT was running him against the tough minutes in that period and that MacT didn’t really give him the cherry minutes that some others got on the PP – which seems inarguable to me – he probably rates even better as an offensive talent. I took a look at the guys who finished top 15 in pts/gm, adjusted for schedule and found that Hemsky was getting about 52 fewer seconds nightly in terms of ES play and 30 fewer seconds of PP play than the average for these players. (The group, by the way, is Crosby, Malkin, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Ovechkin, Iginla, Thornton, Gaborik, Sakic, Kovalchuk, Zetterberg, St. Louis, Hemsky, Cammalleri and H. Sedin).

    That’s pretty impressive company that Ales is keeping. He was, of course, scoring at a point/game rate this year before getting injured. If I was in charge of rebuilding this team once this season mercifully draws to a close – and, god willing, it’ll be someone other than the current duo who are completely responsible for this fiasco – the first thing I’d be doing is talking contract with Hemsky. I’m pretty convinced his current deal has been an absolute bargain for the Oilers and I’d be interested in keeping him as a rather significant piece of the future. He is an elite offensive player, as far as I’m concerned – it just isn’t that well recognized, as a result of the conference he’s in, the kind of minutes he plays and the fact that MacT wasn’t prone to running his best players out there for egregious amounts of ice time. If he wants to stay at some sort of a reasonable price, I’d do that deal. Anything less than $6.5MM is probably a very good deal for the Oilers.

    If, however, Hemsky indicates that he’s not interested in re-signing in Edmonton, it would be hard to blame him. If I was a player of his ability, considering whether to re-up in Edmonton, I’d be awfully concerned about the complete debacle that the past four years have been. You only get one career in the NHL and it’d be a shame to waste the entire thing on a team that’s run by glory boys and cronies. If that’s the case, Hemsky might be an awfully attractive piece to a team that’s near the top of the success cycle. It would probably require effectively punting next season but if you could move him for some real prospects who are a couple of years younger than him (you see why I don’t want the brains behind the Pronger and Smyth auctions running this), you can add to the Gagner-MPS-Eberle-Hall cluster, while enhancing your chances at a great draft pick in 2011.

    With that said, my preference would be to keep the guy. I’m just not sure that the Oilers will even be able to sell the guys who’ve been lifelong Oilers on continuing to be part of this trainwreck until there’s some real reason to believe that things are going to change.

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    20 Responses to A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country

    1. January 27, 2010 at

      I’m a huge fan of Hemsky. It seems like he brings you out of your seat a couple of times every game. Could he shoot the puck more yes, especially on the powerplay. At the same time though if the Oilers took 10 shots on a powerplay some fans would still be yelling shoot so there’s no way to please every one.

      I would hope that Hemsky is part of the rebuild here. We have some tremendous potential in some of our younger players but for now Hemsky is the most talented player on this team. I’d hate to see him go until we have an idea of what we’ve got coming up behind him.

    2. Scarlett
      January 27, 2010 at

      Can you talk contract extension two years before the current one ends? If so, sign him up! He is such a special player and any rebuild must be done around/include him.

    3. mc79hockey
      January 27, 2010 at

      You can talk whenever you want; you can’t finalize anything until July 1 of the year preceding the expiry of the contract.

      With that said, it’s in Hemsky’s best interest to lay his cards on the table. If there’s no way he re-resigns, or no way he re-signs before July 1 of 2012, he can shorten his time in purgatory by saying so.

    4. Vic Ferrari
      January 27, 2010 at

      If I was Ales I would want the hell out unless I believed that there were going to be sweeping changes to mgmt. I hope Hemsky has a different mindset.

    5. January 27, 2010 at

      Exactly right, Tyler. Of course, if you polled the fanbase – say Hemsky vs. Eric Staal – the poll wouldn’t even be close, and it would be in favour of the Carolina captain.

    6. Schitzo
      January 27, 2010 at

      Well, a year of playing with Taylor Hall might make him enjoy life again. That would be nice.

    7. Will
      January 28, 2010 at

      You’ve got to think Hemsky wants out – entering the prime of his career, stuck on a team that shows no hope of being a contender anytime soon, has had run-ins with the coaching about his role on the team (granted that was last year and maybe that’s no longer an issue). Then you have a fanbase that generally undervalues/underappreciates him and, if the HF boards are any barometer, would be just as happy if he was traded for something “shinier”. Finally an Oilers team whose window of competitiveness probably won’t be until after this contract runs out, and who would make out pretty well by trading the skill + low cap hit that is Hemsky. Sort of a perfect storm for him getting moved.

    8. January 28, 2010 at

      Great stuff Ty but I am afraid that Ales will choose to move on. Can’t blame him. He is a competitive guy and has probably had enough of the joke management of this club.

      Waste.

    9. kinger
      January 28, 2010 at

      But, but, he doesn’t attack the box on the PP! And he’s too predictable working off the half boards.

      Trade him for Lecavalier already. We need a real superstar (one that isn’t a pussy Euro).

    10. Erik
      January 28, 2010 at

      My main problem with Hemsky is that he doesn’t score enough goals and that he is turning into a bit of a bandaid. I don’t think he’s ever played a full season.

      You know that someone will offer him ridiculous money when he becomes a UFA, so the Oilers need to decide if they want to pay that to Hemsky or use it on someone(s) else. If they think the money is best spent on someone else, its best to trade him next year when his salary adds considerably to his trade value.

    11. kinger
      January 28, 2010 at

      My main problem with Hemsky is that he doesn’t score enough goals and that he is turning into a bit of a bandaid.

      Erik Q. Hockey I presume?

    12. Quain
      January 28, 2010 at

      Trade him, he doesn’t do enough for the media!!!

    13. nightfly
      January 28, 2010 at

      Trade him!

      *coughtotheIslanderscough*

      Seriously, Hemsky for a pick + Biron! You need a goalie, right? We’ll toss in a prospect like DiBenedetto! Going fast!

    14. Jeff
      January 28, 2010 at

      If we sign him for more than 5M a year, Tambo should be shot. He’s basically a less accomplished Kristian Huselius, who’s almost as fragile as Gaborik. He’s not nearly as good as he thinks he is.

    15. January 28, 2010 at

      @ Jeff:

      Mr. Tyus: You know.. this is hardly fair! Gary’s biased! He’s had it in for me since the minute I tried to eat ‘im! You’ve got a long memory, my friend!

      Cook: That was two days ago.

      Mr. Tyus: No hard feelings on this end, pal! That’s what happens on a cocaine high! But.. I’m outta cocaine, people. That’s not gonna be a problem any more!

      - from here

    16. kinger
      January 28, 2010 at

      Solid argument Jeff, glad you could join the discussion.

    17. Mike W
      January 29, 2010 at

      “A Calgary restaurant investigated on suspicion of overserving the Edmonton Oilers during a New Year’s Eve party has been cleared.

      The Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission says its review of an anonymous tip that accused Osteria de Medici of serving an excessive amount of alcohol is baseless.”

      Anonymous tip, eh? Surely not anyone in Oilers communications, they’re above anything petty like that.

      Don’t surprise if they block the delivery van int he driveway for making their players look bad.

    18. January 29, 2010 at

      Which brings us back to Hemsky. He’s 37th in the NHL in pts/gm between 2007-09. If you adjust to take away the schedule effect, he vaults to 13th place in the league.

      From 37th to 13th? Doesn’t seem plausible. Did he leap past 24 Eastern Conference guys?

    19. Patrick
      January 30, 2010 at

      Can anyone explain what the schedule effect is?

    20. January 31, 2010 at

      @Patrick: In a word, there’s a lot of shitty teams in the East, and not so many in the West. “Schedule effect” basically means, the Western players have an uphill battle as compared to the Eastern players. Which is not to say Eastern players are bad, just that their numbers are a wee bit inflated.

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