Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Button likely not far off the mark, when it comes to Hemsky and the Oilers

TSN analyst Craig Button managed to create quite a stir throughout much of Oil Country this past weekend, with comments he made to the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson about the possible trade value of the Oilers Ales Hemsky. While many in this neck of the woods hold the talented Czech's skill-set in very high regard, the reality of the situation will likely keep Craig MacTavish from getting any sort of quality in return for the veteran winger.

“I don’t think there’s a market for him … I shouldn’t say there’s no market,” said former NHL general manager Craig Button, who now works for TSN. “But the salary cap is coming down to $64.3 million. He makes $5 million for one more year. Would the Oilers pick up half of that to trade him, 50-50 (with another team)? That would still free up $2.5 million in cap space for the Oilers.

“I don’t know if they can get something tangible in return for Hemsky. Andrew Cogliano got the Oilers a second-round draft (pick). I don’t know if they can get that for Hemsky,” Button said.

That statement was taken directly from Matheson's column in Sunday's edition of the Journal and is what has many Oilers fans questioning the sanity of the former GM of the Calgary Flames. However, when you look back at Hemsky's recent history and consider the supposed offers Edmonton received for him prior to the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline, Button's concerns appear to be more than fair.

Anyone who has watched Hemsky play, with any sort of regularity during his NHL career, knows exactly how good a player he is. Until recently, he had been the Oilers best player for a number of years and played a fearless style throughout his time in Orange and Blue. That being said, he has become a walking injury on an almost yearly basis and been far too ineffective, over the last couple of seasons, when in the lineup. Not exactly what a team would be looking to add to their organization...especially not at $5 million cap hit.

It is common knowledge Edmonton openly shopped #83 leading up to the 2012 Trade Deadline but instead of moving him, the club decided to sign him to a two year pact. The rumour at the time, was that no team had even offered, than General Manger Steve Tambellini, a first rounder in exchange for the Oilers most talented player. At that point he was not making $5 million a year nor was the salary cap about to take a $6 million hit.

In all fairness, Button's point-of-view is almost dead on. While I disagree with the sentiment that they may not even get a second round pick in return, should they eat half of the soon-to-be thirty year old's salary, it likely would not be a helluva lot more than that. Though to be honest, if they had to swallow money to move him, there is really no point in even entertaining the thought.

From an Oilers standpoint, best case scenario would see Hemsky going in some sort of off-season package deal or waiting until the 2014 Deadline and hope they could pry something of use from a desperate general manager.

Oilers fans may not want to hear that but that is the reality of the situation.

There is no questioning how talented a guy like Ales is but it's not always about how good the player you are trying to move is...just go ask the Vancouver Canucks and Roberto Luongo. While Hemsky may not have a monster cap hit tied to him for the next decade ala Luongo, he would definitely be a huge short-term gamble, for any team considering to add him to their current roster.  

With the cap situation being what it is, teams simply can't afford to make the wrong call. Bringing in a player with Hemsky's ticket and injury history, could be suicide for any GM looking to put his team over the top. He could very easily turnout to be that missing piece of the puzzle or the guy that can't stay away from the injury bug. It quite literally, could go either way

In my mind, there are twenty-nine other teams in the NHL that would gladly take on an Ales Hemsky as a reclamation project. Frankly, they would be stupid not to. Taking on a guy looking to bounce back from a couple of rough seasons is one thing. Giving up both cash and assets to acquire that same player, is an entirely different matter.

As much as it may pain fans of the Edmonton Oilers to hear it, perhaps Mr. Button wasn't too far off the mark with his assessment.

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