EDMONTON – Ales Hemsky won’t be testing the free-agent waters.
The Edmonton Oilers signed the forward to a US$10-million, two-year extension on Friday night, keeping him in the fold through 2013-14.
With Hemsky set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, he was considered a prime candidate to be moved ahead of Monday’s trade deadline. Instead, he’ll remain with the only NHL organization he’s ever known.
“I’ve been here through a lot, through up and downs,” he said. “It will be tough to leave the place when you see it’s changing, a lot of guys coming up and you know hopefully you can make a push for playoffs and one day maybe win the Cup.
“So that’s why I want to stay here too. I didn’t want to give up after 10 years just to leave and pack my bags. So that’s why I stay too.”
Tambellini and Hemsky sat down for a discussion after Edmonton’s 2-0 victory on Thursday night and a deal was reached Friday. Hemsky had initially asked for a longer term, leaving open the possibility he would have to be traded.
“There were a lot of discussions with other teams—we had to have that going up to the trade deadline,” said Oilers GM Steve Tambellini. “You have to be prepared for both (possibilities). … I think Ales, speaking to him, is happy and I know our players will be very happy.
“Maybe that’s the most important thing.”
The 28-year-old Czech was drafted 13th overall by Edmonton in 2001 and has amassed 421 points (119-302) in 536 career NHL games.
“Awesome to see Hemmer stay an Oiler!!” tweeted star forward Taylor Hall.
Hemsky has been hampered by injuries in recent seasons but has remained fairly healthy this year. In 46 games, he has five goals and 26 points.
“I wanted longer term, but in the end, I don’t have a season like I want to,” said Hemsky. “You know maybe I could go to free agency, but in the end I want to stay here.”
A dip in production may be part of the reason Hemsky re-signed with Edmonton.
He had a career best 77 points (19 goals, 58 assists) during the Oilers’ run to the Stanley Cup final in the 2005-06 season. But after putting up 71 points in 2007-08, Hemsky’s points have steadily declined as injuries kept him out of action.
“I’m 28, I’m not 35,” he said. “So I don’t think I have to retire next year. It’s behind me now. Last month I felt great. I’m just looking forward to play more hockey and I think I can have a long career.”
Edmonton finished in last place the previous two seasons, and with the team once again well out of a playoff spot the speculation was Hemsky would be flipped for more pieces in the team’s long rebuild.
Instead Hemsky will be back next season in the blue and orange, albeit without a no-trade clause in his new contract.
“He’s worked hard to get himself physically to a spot where he’s never been,” said Tambellini. “He’s in the prime of his career.”
Notes: Tambellini said he has made a contract extension offer to Ryan Smyth ahead of the trade deadline. Smyth is earning $4.5 million on a one-year deal.