With the NHL trade deadline approaching, the Oilers are once again in the position to be sellers, but how much selling can really be expected this season?
A cursory look at the Edmonton roster can be broken down into a few distinct camps. The first would be the building blocks of the big reno the Oilers are in the process of undertaking. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi and Jeff Petry would all fit under that category and are essentially untouchable. They will only get better as Oilers and all have bright futures.
Then there’s the group of players no contending team would want anyway. It may not be a talent issue, mind you; salary cap considerations also weigh heavily. Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin would be a prime example of this, keeping in mind the fact his contract runs another two seasons after this campaign and will end when he is 41 years old.
Two names that have been bandied about recently are Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner. Hemsky is the interesting scenario because a team such as the Pittsburgh Penguins is all of a sudden looking for top-end scoring help thanks to injuries to stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. But while this fills a need for the Penguins, what exactly would it do for the Oilers?
After all, young talent still needs a steady veteran hand to help guide the ship and Hemsky’s yearly stipend of $4.1 million versus the cap is quite reasonable. In a more cynical way, Hemsky’s trade value isn’t really going to be that high.
Consider that the gifted Czech playmaker is on pace to suit up for 65 games this season. That would be a down year for most NHLers, but Hemsky’s injury history makes the number much more common for him. He played just 22 nights last year and missed 10 games the season before that. Although talented, he is quickly becoming the Western version of Buffalo’s Tim Connolly.
So, for a team trying to win a Stanley Cup, any haggling over Hemsky’s worth on the trade market would be in favor of the buyer – the draft picks begin to drop into later rounds, the prospects offered are a little less blue-chip – not the seller. Edmonton needs to ask whether it’s worth making a trade at all at this point.
This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.