As the 2011 trade deadline approaches, many Edmonton Oilers fans keep flip flopping on whether their club should trade two of their top forwards in Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner for younger assets to help the rebuild.
The reason for the indecision is due to the fact that Hemsky and Penner are both very good players and they manage to bring their A game on a nightly basis. They are also two completely different players.
Penner is a big boy at 6'4" and 245 pounds, and has great hands for a man that size, scoring 32 goals last season and has 20 already this year. Hemsky is a wizard with the puck and has been praised by both Joe Sakic and Wayne Gretzky for his skills.
Hemsky is almost a point per game player with 40 points in 42 games this year, and has been the Oilers powerplay quarterback since the lockout. Both Penner and Hemsky bring different parts to the Oilers and both can be a part of the rebuild as they are young enough at the ages of 28 and 27, respectively.
The Oilers recent 3 game winning streak has not helped in the decision, since Hemsky has been on fire with 7 points in that span and seems to be regaining his form after being out with a concussion.
Penner has been a little cold in the same stretch however, which means that the answer to which one the Oilers should trade has changed from a month ago, when it seemed most likely Penner would stay and Hemsky would be traded. This was aided by the fact that Penner was the only big body in the Oilers top six and is much more durable than Hemsky, who hasn't played a full season since 2005-2006.
The winning streak also puts a damper on trading either player, since the team seems to be gelling and maybe could be ready to compete for the playoffs as early as next year, in which case both Penner and Hemsky would help immensely.
While this may seem like a problem for the Oilers, it is a good problem to have. With the deadline deals this year, it is obvious this is a sellers market, the Oilers will likely receive very good offers for both Hemsky and Penner.
The good thing is, the Oilers do not have to trade either of them as they both have 1 year left on their contracts after this season, and both have said they want to stay in Edmonton in the future.
What this means is that any team that wants either Penner or Hemsky will have to overpay to convince Oilers GM Steve Tambellini to part with them. If they don't offer what he wants, which is presumably a first round pick, a top prospect and maybe even a young roster player, he can say no without doing any harm to his team.
Either he adds top notch assets to help the rebuild, or he keeps his two top veteran forwards to help out the kids and maybe make a push for the playoffs in 2012. It is a win-win situation for the Oilers.
So to trade or not to trade? February 28th will be the answer.