Columbus hot on trail of Hemsky, sources tell Peter Adler

Ales Hemsky to Columbus? Sources in Prague say they heard that Scott Howson, the Blue Jackets GM, is keenly interested not only in Philadelphia’s Jeff Carter, but in the Oilers’ winger, also. No more
details, though.

Staples’ comment: Interesting tidbit from Peter Adler here. This rumour should come as no surprise (and Adler’s sources are excellent, I might add). Howson needs his team to win now, both to save his own job and to keep the NHL flicker alive in Columbus.

I’m not in favour of trading Hemsky, even if he presents a difficult contract issue for the Oilers.

He is in the last year of his contract, so he can sign a new deal for the 2012-13 season in July. He has been an outstanding player when he’s been healthy, averaging almost a point per game, something few NHL players achieve.

He will be 29 years old in the first year of his contract, and one would hope he would have four or five more peak or near peak seasons in him at that age.

But he hasn’t played much the past two years, just 47 games last year, 22 the year before. He’s been hit hard with shoulder and concussion injuries.

So what to do? I’d keep him and sign him to a lucrative two or three year deal, not long-term, a deal that offers money instead of term. That way Hemsky can prove he’s healthy at a time when the Oilers should still have cap space. In those same years, the Oilers can also assess just how much they will need Hemsky as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, Linus Omark and the other young wingers develop.

I don’t see how another prospect, except for a real hot shot like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Adam Larsson, is a better bet for the Oilers than Hemsky. They need his talent, his ability to play tough minutes, his ability to score. They need real NHLers on this team, not just kids, no matter how good the kids.