It's the hot topic in Edmonton. Even here at the bleacherreport.com, Antony Ta put an interesting perspective together about the rumors surrounding the most unlikely of trade casualties—Oilers forward Ales Hemsky.
Somehow, despite how ridiculous it seems, this snowball, which was packed together by a conversation between 630 CHED's Bob Stauffer and Robin Brownlee of Edmonton's local sports radio station the Team 1260; keeps rolling and rolling, getting bigger and bigger with both sides of the issue taking some interesting stances.
First off Antony, let me say I'm glad to see you haven't joined the dark side of this issue. I can get behind a trade if and when it improves the quality of the team from which a player is leaving. I can also get behind a trade that if not for moving a player, that team risks getting no assets in return thanks to the status of a players contract.
I just can't get behind a trade that involves a player because, for lack of a better reason, fans are a tad unhappy with that players performance, or in this particular case, find the player slightly less interested than his current comparison—the ultra hot Dustin Penner.
Honestly, is this how the fans in Edmonton go about waking up Ales Hemsky? The same Hemsky, that while slowly getting warmed up to the season, has still put up five points in six games? Maybe Calgary should trade Iginla. He's only put up four points in eight games for the Flames and ironically makes $3 million plus more per year than Hemsky does.
This is the Ales Hemsky that has been the Oilers best player for the past four seasons. The same Hemsky, that while Dustin Penner was asleep under the tenure of Craig MacTavish, strung together at least 66 points in each of the last two years while playing less than 82 games in either one.
He's on pace to do that again. I guess in Edmonton, we're just too impatient to see how his season progresses.
I for one have never seen Hemsky as the building block in which a successful NHL playoff team was to be built around. Nor have I suggested that a Stanley Cup formula be one that has Hemsky as your team superstar.
The Oilers have looked to Hemsky to fill that role in the past, but quite frankly, in doing so, is the main reason the Oilers haven't been that good a team.
That said, blaming the consequences of that reality on Hemsky makes no sense. As good as Hemsky is for what he's paid, the Edmonton Oilers need more than one guy who can get 60-70 points per season if they intend to make the playoffs more than once every four years.
Those of you who suggest the Oilers send Hemsky packing, should stop to answer a couple very important questions.
Who would you trade him for? He's not nearly valuable enough to fetch you a Kovalchuk or a Savard. But he's too valuable to move him for spare parts like a role-playing Chuck Kobasew; who was traded from Boston to Minnesota on Sunday.
Would you trade him for Drew Stafford in Buffalo, who is rumoured to be on the radar of the Edmonton Oilers? I wouldn't.
Then ask yourself, if you could trade him, how would you manage your salary cap? One of the great things about Hemsky, besides his natural skill; is the contract to which he's signed for the next three years including this one.
At $4.1 million, even if he were to only get you 65 points (which is a reasonable expectation for Hemsky), he's a steal of a deal and one that is hard to find in the NHL. Moving him for someone of similar talent, virtually guarantees you bring more salary back than you can fit under the cap.
Finally, all you trade trigger happy fans should ask if you've learned nothing from your past mistakes?
Did Comrie's return and his now near point per game pace teach us how not to treat our players? Did Pronger, Lupul, Peca, Arnott, and many others who found it hard to perform infront of often intolerable fans, not show us that we have an uncanny ability to assist in the running of quality players out of town?
It's no wonder the Heatley's, Hossa's and Kariya's of the NHL, despite what you think of them, thought twice about making Edmonton their homes as professional NHL players.
Patience is a virtue. Perhaps we should try extending it to a player like Hemsky. He's had 66 points in 72 games, 71 in 74 games, 53 in 64 games, and 77 points in 82 games over the last four years. Those are the statistics of a player who deserves better.
Imagine if the two posts he's hit this season, where he cleanly beat the goaltender, or the empty net he missed by a foot had gone in. He'd have eight points in six games and no one would have ever noticed if he looked disinterested or not. Better yet, no one would have cared.