More Ales Hemsky trade rumours!

Jonathan Willis
January 12 2013 01:11PM

He’s no Roberto Luongo, but Ales Hemsky is no stranger to trade rumours. The lead-up to last season’s trade deadline featured his name prominently in proposed and rumoured deals; it caught many by surprise when the Oilers opted to re-sign him rather than trade him.

With NHL hockey on its way back, the rumours seem to have started again.

Why I don’t buy *these* rumours

The Fourth Period, which bills itself as “Hockey’s Lifestyle Magazine” says that Hemsky could be on the move in exchange for a young defenceman and specifically cites four Eastern Conference teams as possibly having an interest in the player: the Panthers, Devils, Islanders and Jets.

The piece is here. Personally, I don’t buy it for a bunch of reasons:

  • One of the players cited as going the other way – TFP goes so far as to say a league source told them the Jets and Oilers “could soon explore a deal” involving him – is Zach Bogosian. Bogosian had wrist surgery at the end of August and was expected to miss between four and six months; he skated for the first time since the surgery just four days ago. That makes it hard to include him in a deal.
  • Also, Bogosian had a great year last season filling in when guys like Enstrom and Byfuglien were out of the lineup; it seems a stretch to say the Jets are looking to deal him now.
  • The piece describes the Oilers defence as Justin Schultz “leading a defensive corps that includes veterans Ryan Whitney, Ladislav Smid and Nick Schultz” and makes no mention of Jeff Petry – the 25-year old who led the team in ice-time per game last year and is expected to form one half of the first pairing.
  • The piece also describes the Oilers second line as Sam Gagner, Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky – despite expectations that Smyth will start the year on the third line alongside Shawn Horcoff. This isn’t a critical mistake – we haven’t seen the Oilers lines yet, after all – but it seems odd.

Put it all together and there’s no reason to think that The Fourth Period has any special knowledge of internal Oilers discussions regarding Ales Hemsky. There's also no reason to believe they, or their "league source" have any special knowledge of internal Jets conversations. 

Why Hemsky might get dealt anyway

While I don’t find these specific rumours credible, an Ales Hemsky trade continues to be well within the realm of possibility.

The Oilers have strength on the wings, much of it extremely young. They have needs elsewhere. Hemsky, particularly given his injury history, is a valuable player but seems to be seen as a guy the club could move forward without.

The Oilers could probably use another defenceman, too. The addition of Justin Schultz helps a lot, and there’s a fairly decent supporting cast, but a top-pairing defender could dramatically change the complexion of the team. Hemsky’s probably not going to bring that guy back in trade, but the idea of swapping him for another top-four guy to round out the group, or as part of a package for a big centre is plausible.

We also know the Oilers are interested in making a move. The “wow factor” move that Bob Stauffer brought up this fall generated considerable discussion, and even though that move now seems unlikely, it was all but confirmed at the time by Kevin Lowe. I’m convinced there were legitimate discussions, and reviewing the Oilers’ assets Hemsky hits the sweet spot of having value but also being tradable.

Put shortly: a trade wouldn’t surprise me. What would surprise me is if the unknown author behind The Fourth Period’s report has actual knowledge of such a trade.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.