Washington Capitals Trade Speculation: Is Ales Hemsky a Trade Deadline Target?

Jake WareCorrespondent IIIFebruary 23, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 15:  Ales Hemsky #83 of the Edmonton Oilers during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on December 15, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Oilers 4-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

With the Washington Capitals two points out of a playoff spot and two points back in the Southeast Division (despite having two games in hand), it's anyone's guess as to whether the team is set to be buyers, piling on players at the deadline at the expense of their future to try to make a playoff push, or sellers, trading away assets and rebuilding the team.

The trade deadline is just four days away now, so General Manager George McPhee better decide soon.

If McPhee is, in fact, a buyer at the deadline, he is sure to make a significant move, acquiring a big-name player to improve his team. While the team is struggling, there is no doubt there are the assets in the team to be a successful NHL team (as has been proven in the past), and adding a few pieces to the elaborate puzzle might be the key to taking the Caps to the top.

One player the Caps could take a look at is Edmonton Oilers winger Ales Hemsky.

The 28-year-old Czech right-winger, who was drafted by the Oilers 13th overall in 2001, is commonly respected around the league as one of the better all-around forward players. In 490 total NHL games, Hemsky has 114 goals and 281 assists for 395 points, establishing himself as one of the league's premier attacking players, despite playing on a struggling team throughout his career.

Hemsky has struggled with injuries over the past few seasons, and as a result of the team's influx of talented youngsters has fallen down the Oilers' depth chart. His numbers have taken a hit as a result (five goals and 21 assists through 46 games in 2011-12), but alongside the likes of Alex Ovechkin on the Caps' top line, Hemsky could easily experience a big resurgence.

Hemsky carries a $4,100,00 cap hit, but his contract runs out this summer and he will be an unrestricted free agent. Should the Caps manage to offload Jeff Schultz and one more contract, they would be able to fit Hemsky onto the roster and under the salary cap.

Ales Hemsky would likely cost the Caps a pair of early-to-mid-round draft picks, a hefty price for a player potentially past his prime, but with the likes of Evgeny Kuznetsov, Cody Eakin and Braden Holtby in the pipeline, the team can afford to risk a part of their future for the present. Ales Hemsky could be a key addition to the Caps' lineup, and in the long run, Caps fans could well be happy that the team pulled off this deal.

Follow Jake Ware on Twitter at @JacobWare95