• I hate to point this out, but Hemsky isn’t dead.

    by  • February 12, 2012 • Hockey • 50 Comments

    As I understand things, one of the reasons that the Oilers need to get rid of Ales Hemsky is that his production has collapsed. He’s been passed in the batting order by Jordan Eberle and the Oilers can’t afford to pay their number two right winger the sort of dough that Hemsky’s looking for. Hemsky’s the past, Eberle’s the future and the future is now.

    When you look at the data since January 1 though, that looks a bit crazy. I picked January 1 because there’s a lot of data to assemble, which is sort of a pain in the ass, and because Hemsky was coming off an eight game pointless streak. It also gives him a couple of months to get back in the groove from the start of the year. Hemsky’s played 18 games since then, putting up 13 points, 0.72 pts/gm, not up to his usual 0.9 pts/gm standard. He’s scoring more than 7 PPP/60 since then, so the lack of production must be at ES. Let’s look at him and Eberle.

    These are the ES numbers overall since January 1, 2012. What does this tell us? Eberle’s been killing it at PDO and constituent elements. 1133 is off the charts. It’s a hot streak. Look at ZoneStart though – Hemsky starts in the good end of the ice less frequently. The last column, bottom, is percentage of TOI against the other team’s bottom six forwards. Pretty close to equal. The Oilers have a substantial edge in SF/SA and SCF/SCA with Hemsky on the ice compared to having Eberle on the ice.

    Let’s look at the numbers at home, which are almost comical. The Oilers have played eight home games since the New Year. Eberle’s dressed for five of them. I’ve broken down the numbers for Hemsky and Eberle in the games that Eberle played and then for Hemsky in the games where Eberle wasn’t dressed (“LoneHemsky”).

    Same deal. The Oilers are shooting 25% with Eberle on the ice. They aren’t really putting anything in the net when Hemsky’s been out, although Hemsky’s at least had the pucks stay out during the games when Eberle’s dressed; LoneHemsky hasn’t even had that.

    Look at the ZoneStarts for Eberle and LoneHemsky – about equal. Hemsky is well back; he starts in the hard end of the ice. He also gets killer matchups – about 73% of his time against the other team’s top six, compared to just 52% for Eberle. LoneHemsky comes somewhere in between. LoneHemsky, who, like Eberle, gets easier ZoneStarts, had three pretty awesome games in terms of SF/SA and chances.

    Let’s look at the road. Hemsky’s played all ten games on the road since the New Year; Eberle missed one and basically a second, against Dallas. I’ve done the same thing here – taken Hemsky’s eight games that he’s played with Eberle and then compiled numbers for two games for LoneHemsky.

    Hemsky’s PDO on the road in these games has been terrible. Awful. Luck, etc. It’s funny though – if you look at the difference in the Bottom number, you can see that all of a sudden, Hemsky and Eberle are facing about the same mix of top six and bottom six. Renney tries to make up for it though. The ZoneStart difference between them is amazing – Hemsky starts in the defensive zone about 70% of the time, Eberle about 40% of the time. Even with that, the Oilers do better in SF/SA and better in SCF/SCA with Hemsky on the ice than they do with Eberle.

    These numbers are, of course, small sample sizes. Hemsky’s entire period of alleged bad play (just like Eberle’s good one) is a small sample though. I haven’t heard anyone say that Eberle’s been playing badly since the New Year. I’ve heard tons of people say that Hemsky’s been playing poorly, looks disinterested and obviously wants out. I don’t know how you can reconcile these numbers with that. For all the world, it looks to me like Eberle’s been getting a soft ride under a blanket that Hemsky provides. I don’t say this is unfair – someone has to play the soft minutes and someone has to play the tough minutes and it’s probably sensible for Hemsky to do it – but in all the time I’ve looked at this stuff, the percentages always seem to bend towards true talent in the long run. If we have a hockey game tomorrow and our teams are filled with 19 clones and you have Eberle at 1RW and I have Hemsky, I like my odds.

    There’s been a lot of complaining coming from certain corners about the ice time of the Golden Generation being so low at ES. Looking at this data, I wonder the extent to which it’s possible to give them more ES TOI without simultaneously making their minutes tougher. The ZoneStart can only be so good and there are only so many at-bats against the other team’s bottom two lines. There’s only so much time that you can get Eberle out against the other team’s bottom sixers.

    In Hemsky’s case, I don’t know that anyone would make the argument that he’s a guy who’s going to have an on-ice shooting percentage of 6.67% in the long term. That’s his real problem this year and yet he’s coming off seasons in which the 5v5 on-ice shooting percentage with him at 5v5 was 12.09%, 11.64%, 8.49% and 9.41%. Has he suddenly lost the ability to make plays that see pucks end up in the net, while retaining the ability to be in on scoring chances and generate shots? It’s baffling.

    Jordan Eberle’s a pretty good prospect having an outstanding season. He isn’t as good as he’s looked this year. Ales Hemsky isn’t as bad as he’s looked. Getting rid of Hemsky, when he’s putting up better chance numbers despite playing more difficult minutes than Eberle strikes me as insane. Eberle’s due to cool off anyway. When Hemsky goes – and he seems obviously gone – it’s just going to get tougher for him. The Oilers are going to be further away from contending for a playoff berth.

    About

    50 Responses to I hate to point this out, but Hemsky isn’t dead.

    1. lurker#2
      February 12, 2012 at

      Your first two charts are flipped

    2. lurker#2
      February 12, 2012 at

      By first two I meant 2nd and 3rd.

    3. bumboclate
      February 12, 2012 at

      we need a player like hemmer if we ever want to make the playoffs and hes been a great soldier for edmonton for a long time but would he want to stay? im guessing he would want 4-4.5 mill for 3year which seems good for a point a game player.

    4. Matt Watt
      February 13, 2012 at

      Thanks you for this post Tyler. If I had to hear Tencer say one more time how this coaching staff needs to play the Golden Boys more, I was about to lose my mind in a postal worker fashion. Sad part, someone like him is too ignorant to see why he might be wrong.

    5. Matt
      February 13, 2012 at

      Completely agree. I don’t understand running this guy out of town. He’s a warrior and is clearl playing hurt and still putting up points. There’s no way we’ll get a top-4 D or a top-6 forward in return, or even a prospect who would be better than what we have in the pipeline already.

      Money’s not an issue. He’s young and wants to be here. Why not keep him?!

      If it were up to me, I’d trade anyone I don’t expect to be around in a few years as this team is really coming on. Ship ‘em out and call up the prospects from the minors who will be there. Let this team grow up together.

    6. Merlen
      February 13, 2012 at

      Speaking of Dan Tencer, is there any way we could trade him for………….anything? Pucks, an old net?

    7. Dman09
      February 13, 2012 at

      Its not always about numbers when it comes to a team sport. At times hemsky has not put in the effort that is needed for a winning team. When his coach has suggest he do some things to change it up and see if it makes a difference he has refused. As a comparison Gagner has gone out there and fought bigger tougher guys when that isn’t his role. He has shown that he is a 100% team player and would do anything to move the team forward. Hemsky is going to have to decide if he wants to be that type of player if not its the same situation as Semin in WSH. They have been one of the most loaded teams in the league for a few years now and still have been able to do anything in the playoffs because they don’t have the “do it for the team” menality throughout the whole locker room.

      • TigerUnderGlass
        February 13, 2012 at

        It’s not like Hemsky spent the last decade killing himself for the team or anything.

        • Woodguy
          February 13, 2012 at

          At times hemsky has not put in the effort that is needed for a winning team.

          Examples please?

          When his coach has suggest he do some things to change it up and see if it makes a difference he has refused.

          How do you know what Renney has suggested to Hemsky? Do you practice with the Oilers?

          As a comparison Gagner has gone out there and fought bigger tougher guys when that isn’t his role. He has shown that he is a 100% team player and would do anything to move the team forward.

          You’re right. Hemsky should get into a fist fight to show he cares. Putting his body in harms way to make plays on a terrible hockey team going now where for 6 years just shows he’s selfish right?

          Hemsky is going to have to decide if he wants to be that type of player if not its the same situation as Semin in WSH. They have been one of the most loaded teams in the league for a few years now and still have been able to do anything in the playoffs because they don’t have the “do it for the team” menality throughout the whole locker room.

          Hemsky is bad because WSH can’t win in the playoffs?

          Ok then.

      • Randall
        February 14, 2012 at

        “It’s not about numbers” == “I’m just going to say a bunch of stuff that can’t be proven and is effectively unquantifiable and claim that it refutes the evidence you’ve presented to make your point.”

    8. Woodguy
      February 13, 2012 at

      Something else that needs to be considered when looking at these numbers is who Hemsky and Eberle are playing against.

      Up until the TOR/DET/OTT games on the recent road trip, Hemsky has been seeing #1 Dmen pairings, and Eberle has seen 2nd pairing (and some 3rd pairing at home)

      After Gagner’s explosion game, coaches are sending out their 1st pairings against 4,89,14

      Eberle’s SC ratio in the 3 games he’s seen 1st pairing D is .345 (skewed heavily by a terrible .181 vs OTT)

      Hemsky’s SC ratio in the 3 games he’s seend 2nd pairing D is .433 (skewed by a terrible .285 vs TOR)

      If opposing coaches continue to key on 4,89,14 (I actually expect Renney to break that line up) it will be interesting to see how 14 fares.

      It will probably be a good barometer for next year when Eberle is the 1RW and Renney has no where to hide him.

    9. David Staples
      February 13, 2012 at

      Hemsky putting up better chance numbers than Eberle?

      I don’t think you’re a dumb guy, either, but really? Relying on team scoring chance numbers in your analysis of individual players? Those numbers are riddled with false positives, as any brief overview of scoring chance data will demonstrated. Try it for five or ten games.

      The fact is Hemsky’s scoring chance numbers are down from last year. Eberle is outperforming him.

      Per 15 minutes of even strength time, Eberle has contributed to 2.69 chances, Hemsky to 1.73.

      Now some of that comes down to Quality of Competition and ZoneStarts.

      But there’s no way Hemsky is creating more on the attack right now than Eberle. It’s a fantasy.

      • Tyler Dellow
        February 13, 2012 at

        Well I looked for your numbers on a game by game basis and couldn’t find them.

        Regardless, I’m pretty comfortable in assuming that Hemsky’s in on a majority of the chances created while he’s on the ice. You think Horcoff’s carrying the show? Maybe Belanger?

        Curious what math you’ve done to conclude that QualComp, ZoneStart and the offensive quality of the players with him isn’t the difference between Hemsky and Eberle. In any event, Eberle is hemorraghing chances when he’s on the ice. The Oilers get killed despite him having much more favourable TOI.

        Bet on the percentages. Hasn’t failed the Oilers at all in the last five years.

    10. The Other John
      February 13, 2012 at

      The real advantage of following the advanced analysis here, on Lowetide and other sites is that it puts into context concepts that non “math boys” sense. The facts that Eberle, Gagner and RNH are not getting increased TOI is not a coaching flaw by Renney. It is deliberate. The fact that the MSM do not understand that fact is actually surprising. I likened them to the oldtimey scouts in the movie Moneyball. The above post also validates letting Hemsky go without a viable replacement at RW in the top 6 is puzzling in the extreme for a team that, supposedly, is starting the first of many years competing in the playoffs next year

      For a very interesting analysis on analytics: the incomparable Bill James posted an article on Grantland why he believes Dwight Evans deserves to be in the Baseball HOF. Good read. Course Lowe and Tambellini would have traded Evans because of a low batting average

    11. David Staples
      February 13, 2012 at

      My comment was based on their entire season, Eberle has outperformed Hemsky.

      183 chances for, 65 against for Eberle.

      133 chances for, 64 against for Hemsky.

      In the past 14 games (since the half-way mark, Hemsky has indeed matched Eberle, just as you suggest, but Eberle was out two weeks and is, presumably, shaking off a bit of injury rust.

      42 for, 11 against for Eberle

      45 chances for, 25 against for Hemsky.

      Hemsky’s chance ratio is OK for a winger, not great, but gets cut some slack for his quality of comp and zone starts.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis
        February 13, 2012 at

        It is interesting that you afford Eberle the privilege of “shaking off a bit of injury rust” but not Hemsky.

      • February 13, 2012 at

        I think one of the difficulties of your scoring chance project is that you really don’t have enough data yet to say that Hemsky is “OK for a winger” because you’ve got less than 20 winger seasons to look at, all from the same team.

    12. The Other John
      February 13, 2012 at

      Raised this before but one way to deal with Hemsky is with a highly front loaded 4 year contract, a la Fedorov. Term should be acceptable to Hemsky. $21m with the first year at $7m,5m, 4.5m and 4.5. Absent a reoccurence of his shoulder problem, Hemsky could also be moved to another team in years 2 through 4.It keeps a necessary player. Costs alot of money in year 1, not so much therafter and the ability to move him

    13. David Staples
      February 13, 2012 at

      P.S. And it would be best to have all my results, each game, posted on-line, I agree. Will think about that for next year. Issue of time. When it comes to this work, I’m a volunteer at this point, and I’m already wasting plenty of time on all this stuff. Just ask my wife ;)

      • nathan
        February 13, 2012 at

        DS, Not volunteering, but have you asked for volunteers? It’s amazing how much technical skill lurks at hockey blogs.

        • nathan
          February 13, 2012 at

          DS, If you have that in a spreadsheet, you can upload it to Google Docs for public viewing for free, however often you wish. There may be even better options out there.

    14. The Other John
      February 13, 2012 at

      David

      Fair comment re Whole season but in the half year analsis you qualify Eberle’s numbers by commenting that Eberle was injured “and is, presumably, shaking off a bit of injury rust”. Would not a similar qualification apply to the start of the year for Hemsky

      Also would not anyone to think any of the aboveis, in any way a criticism of Eberele, he has done a very good job on the opportunities presented. Rather it simply shows Hemsky is NOT having a bad 1/2 season against the other teams elite players

    15. Stephen
      February 13, 2012 at

      My question is this:

      Does Tambellini not talk to Renney about the roster?

      We know the roles and ice time given to Eberle and Hemsky are far too measured and deliberate to be considered “chance”, so does Tambellini not know that Hemsky is needed to take those tough assignments? That Eberle is being given a much easier ride? Does he not realize that if he trades Hemsky they will lose their tough minutes RW?

      It’s one thing for the average fan to be influenced by the MSM and cry for Hemsky’s departure, but has Renney never made it clear that if they lose Hemsky there is no one to replace him on the roster?

    16. nathan
      February 13, 2012 at

      Let’s assume that Matheson is right today and that 3 years up to 15M is the place where both parties might be able to live with the injury and cap need risks. Matheson also agree that it’s a stretch to expect Eberle to match Hemsky’s work against the toughs.

      So Tyler. Taking all of the analysis in context what do you thing Hemsky’s value over 3 years is?

      • nathan
        February 13, 2012 at

        Tyler’s free to take strong positions against irrational elements. It’s easy and fun and you can always fall back on that.

        But Tyler what does your analysis say the guy is worth over 3 years to a rational best fit team? to a rational GM with the current portfolio? Not asking what the player or team should do, but is 3×5 reasonable?

    17. Woodguy
      February 13, 2012 at

      To everyone saying the Oilers can’t sign Hemsky to 4 years because he might not work out and hurt the cap.

      This management paid Sheldon Soury $4.5MM to play in the AHL.

      The same management team is paying Souray $2.4MM for a contract buy out this year and Nilsson $418K for his buyout.

      So that’s $7.3MM they have paid in real money for players not to play for the Edmonton Oilers.

      Surely if the gamble on Hemsky doesn’t work out they can pay him to not play for the Oilers as well

    18. nathan
      February 13, 2012 at

      “To everyone saying the Oilers can’t sign Hemsky to 4 years because he might not work out and hurt the cap”

      You can front load the dollars, but you the cap hit doesn’t front load. If the 4th year is small anyways, the team and the player are both better off with a 3 year deal since the team wants to front load cap hit, and the player wants to max earnings.

      • Woodguy
        February 13, 2012 at

        Why would Hemsky sign a contract that declines in his 30th or 31st year?

        Historically those are pretty productive years.

        • nathan
          February 13, 2012 at

          Agreed, Which is why Oilers desire to preserve 4th yr cap and players interest suggest a 3 year deal.

        • The Other John
          February 13, 2012 at

          WG

          The front load would protect the Oil in that Hemsky would be attractive to any team that wants his cap hit to be higher than his salary. It is actually how Horcoff could be traded in the last 2 years of his deal. So long as Hemsky gets paid the number he wants, not sure why he cares when he gets the $$

          • nathan
            February 13, 2012 at

            TOJ, See how that works. But however you load it, the team and player probably have a differential totals for a 3yr vs. 4 yr, that makes it easier to do a 3 yr deal.

          • Woodguy
            February 13, 2012 at

            I get that, but the numbers are too low.

            That’s what was confusing.

            • The Other John
              February 13, 2012 at

              So add $3 million to the contract in the first 2 years

    19. RossCreekNation
      February 13, 2012 at

      Some interesting data here, for sure. A few things:

      Ice time. While those calling for the kids to see more ice time earlier in the year were wrong, those doing so now, are right. Over the course of a season, the mindset CAN change. Early in the season, while there’s still hope to make the playoffs, you HAVE to coach to win… which means Smyth/Horcoff/Hemsky playing big, tough minutes, and sheltering the kids. So those calling for the kids to see more ice & the vets to see less back in November were just plain wrong.
      However, as the season has progressed, and any playoff hopes died, things change. I think it IS important to play the kids more down the stretch… for various reasons.
      For one, what better time to see how they fare with more minutes? Surely not next October. Why not see what they can do now when the games don’t mater, rather than wait to see next year? At least it may give you some idea of where you stand & what has to be done this summer. Not to mention the experience gained by the kids by doing such a thing. What better way to learn than on the job in meaningless games. Development.
      Secondly, with Eberle doing so well, would it really hurt to throw him into some tougher situations… from a contract negotiation standpoint. If he succeeds, then great. If not, “well kid, you have some work to do before we throw $6M your way”.

      Which leads me to another question: If management knew they were going to trade Hemsky 6…7…8 weeks ago, why not try and play Hemsky in soft-as-butter minutes to try & get him going? Put him into a situation to succeed. Jack up his value. With any luck, Hemsky starts producing at the pace everyone is accustomed to, and his trade value skyrockets. This is not “rocket surgery”. Maximize his value so that when you do pull the trigger, you’re getting more than “maybe a 1st round pick”. Seriously, the only reason I can think of is that they didn’t want him to succeed because then the fanbase wouldn’t support dumping him.

      • Woodguy
        February 13, 2012 at

        If management knew they were going to trade Hemsky 6…7…8 weeks ago, why not try and play Hemsky in soft-as-butter minutes to try & get him going? Put him into a situation to succeed.

        You can give him better Ozone starts and put him out in good situations, but the opposing coaches were throwing the 1st pairing on the ice whenever he was there so it can be tough to find a lot of soft ice time when you are the focal point of opposition’s best.

        • RossCreekNation
          February 13, 2012 at

          True enough. But like you said, at least give him the Ozone starts. Plus 1st unit PP time.

    20. Grant Huntington
      February 13, 2012 at

      Flames fan here.

      Is it true that Hemsky faces tougher pairing opposition? I thought that Eberle was on the first line with Hall and Gagner?

      So let me get this straight. This coming Wednesday night, the Maple Leafs will play Kessel/Lupul/Phaneuf against Hemsky in an effort to neutralize him? They’re going to let Clarke MacArthur et al run around against Eberle/Gagner/Hall?

      Sorry for all the questions, I just don’t understand any of this.

      If so, my mind is blown. Hemsky is invisible on the ice, and Eberle makes things happen every shift.

    21. Grant Huntington
      February 13, 2012 at

      Jsut saw this post..

      “After Gagner’s explosion game, coaches are sending out their 1st pairings against 4,89,14″

    22. February 13, 2012 at

      Show me the formula where you can apply ZoneStarts to scoring chances and I’ll use it. How much impact does it have? Seen it quantified as plus or minus five goals over an entire season in official plus/minus.

      It’s also the case that just because a player plays against tough competition, it doesn’t mean he’s a superior performance, or that it makes up for any discrepancy in his scoring chance production. Pretty wide gap between Eberle and Hemsky right now in terms of production over the full year.

      As it is, huge difference in production between Eberle and Hemsky over the year . . . I’m going to take a closer look myself at more recent trends.

    23. February 13, 2012 at

      Eberle out there a lot against the other team’s bottom six?

      Hmmm. Maybe Vic’s Time on Ice data would show this, but I’d have to see that to believe it.

      • February 13, 2012 at

        How, exactly, would you guess that I surmised the percentage of Eberle’s minutes against other team’s bottom sixers?

        • Tyler Dellow
          February 13, 2012 at

          The above comment is from me, not Dennis.

          • Woodguy
            February 13, 2012 at

            You and Dennis are the same person!!>!??!?!

            OMGBBQBAKINGPOWEDER!!

    24. February 13, 2012 at

      According to Behind the Net, Hemsky’s Quality of Comp has only been a bit more challenging than a group that includes Hall, Smyth and Eberle. All grouped pretty close, it appears. Makes sense as opposing coaches have often put tough comp. out against Eberle and Hall on the road . . . at least that’s how I recall it.

      • Tyler Dellow
        February 13, 2012 at

        Hey, what are the possession numbers for Eberle like on the road like lately? If only someone would assemble this information and present it in a chart…

      • Derek
        February 13, 2012 at

        In terms of Corsi Rel QoC, Hemsky’s at 1.427 (2nd among regular Oilers forwards) with Eberle at 0.539 (7th). I’d say that’s a pretty substantial difference.

    25. February 13, 2012 at

      Tyler you wrote, “There’s only so much time that you can get Eberle out against the other team’s bottom sixers.”

      Maybe I misunderstood your comment, but I took it to mean that Eberle is already playing weak competition, and you can’t find much more of that time.

      • Tyler Dellow
        February 13, 2012 at

        Well that’s about right, I think. Any time a 4th line follows a third, logically he can only play half of it. On the road, it’s that much more difficult to get a match you want. Logically, I’d expect the theoretical max you can get a guy out against another team’s softer players to only go so high. SOmeone would have to break down game charts to prove Renney’s missing the boat there, I think. I assume he wants the kids against the other team’s softs as much as humanly possible.

    26. rickithebear
      February 14, 2012 at

      Players are paid to play 100% of the games a season. hemsky does not. he will likely play 69 games 84% of the games. This most critical point does not seem to matter hear.
      Even though hemsky has been a less than 42P/season player 6 of 9 years. He is /60 elite. and there is a desire to pay him as such.

      This should never be about, Hemsky V. Eberle. it should be situation and production versus cap $.
      What you are basicly saying is he is getting the horcoff treatment and is scoring at the same rate as Horcoff. we cannot be paying two players 5.5M cap to get 12-16G in tough situations.

    27. Doogie2K
      February 14, 2012 at

      Sorely disappointed that this isn’t called Eleven Years of Pestilence, Part IV. Because I needed more occasions to get Metallica’s Four Horsemen stuck in my head.

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