Hearing the name Ales Hemsky and trade in the same sentence certainly isn’t a new development. Now that the holiday trade freeze has lifted, NHL GM’s are getting poised to do some wheeling and dealing to improve their clubs, some for now and some for the future. In the case of the Edmonton Oilers, a team sitting outside of a playoff spot for the 5th year in a row, there’s a lot of speculation as to whether or not they’re going to be big players come this year’s trade deadline. The guy who keeps coming up in rumors? Ales Hemsky.
The 28 year old winger has played his entire career in Edmonton, and was once thought to be one of the most skilled players in the league. His biggest offensive output came in 2005-06 when he scored 77 points. He also played 81 games that year, the most he has ever played in one season. Injuries have derailed what seemed like a very promising career, and issues with his shoulder has hampered his production over the past couple of years. The skill is there, but just how healthy is that shoulder? A UFA on July 1st, the Oilers obviously have a decision to make on him. Is Hemsky part of the solution in Edmonton, or is it time for him to move on? Contending teams could certainly use a skilled guy like Hemsky, and he would be a great fit on a team that already has stars. In other words, a complimentary guy, for a team like the Red Wings or Penguins, a place where the spotlight wouldn’t be on him. There was a time when people in Edmonton thought Hemsky might be the superstar they were looking for to lead their team back to glory, but for one reason or another it just hasn’t happened.
The issue with Hemsky is that his injury history might scare off potential buyers, thus limiting the quality of return the Oilers would get. But if they don’t want to re-sign him, they may as well trade him for something, rather than lose him for nothing in the offseason. Considering the huge return the Oilers got for Dustin Penner, there’s a chance they could get a good draft pick or prospect for Hemsky. The past couple of years there have been a lot of Hemsky trade rumors. Could this be the season they actually come true?
Another name that has been tossed about in trade scenarios is Sam Gagner. Gagner, highly touted coming out of the draft, struggled to acclimate himself to the NHL. Many felt the Oilers brought him in way too soon, but what’s done is done, and Gagner is the type of guy who could be a great addition to a contending team as well. It’s remarkable to think that Gagner is just 22, and that’s why the Oilers might be a little wary on letting him go. The most goals he’s ever scored in a season was 16, but many feel he has the potential to be that 20 goal scorer so many teams covet. At this point, both Gagner and Hemsky are still Oilers. Whether that will change in the upcoming months, remains to be seen.