Ales Hemsky has been often thought to be on the next plane out of town when the trade deadline approaches or offseason begins, but after another rumor-filled time he’s set to begin his 11th season with the Oilers. In that time, however, he’s spent plenty of time on injured reserve leading to frustration with fans and media alike.
Could now be the time to send Hemsky packing for a new destination? If GM Craig MacTavish can find a taker, perhaps yes. The Oilers’ current position against the salary cap and Hemsky being in the final year of his contract means he could be on his way out. It’s not as easy as that though.
The Oilers have embraced their future and guys like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are leading the way. Hemsky’s offensive abilities make him an obvious fit either next to Hopkins or in his familiar spot with Sam Gagner, but with his injuries and cap hit, he’s an obvious candidate to be exiled.
That doesn’t make things easier for MacTavish, however. If Hemsky stays healthy for most of the season and puts up monster numbers in Dallas Eakins’ new system, he’d be set to hit free agency as a proven offensive player. At age 30 he’d be high-risk for a long-term deal and with Edmonton being a possible playoff team, they might not want to upset the apple cart.
All that aside, those are a lot of “ifs” for Oilers brass to get a handle of. If ever there were a time it’d be best to move Hemsky, now is it. Unfortunately for them, the reduced salary cap comes at a bad time. His $5 million cap hit makes him a tough sell to anyone in need of offense.
The Winnipeg Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field this afternoon. You can watch it on NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVA Sports 2 or NHL.tv at 3 p.m. ET.
With that in mind, let’s get prepped with super-important stats about unhealthy food, interesting photos and fun facts.
Want to get an in-depth look at the rivalry between the Jets and the Oilers? NHL.com and Sportsnet both have some great retrospectives.
The CBC notes that there was rain ending in the morning but it’s expected to be cloudy. Overall, sounds like a nice climate for an outdoor hockey game. NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika wonders if the sun’s glare might cause some issues.
The Arizona Coyotes received (mostly) good news on Sunday: Mike Smith‘s injury isn’t believed to be “severe,” even if he’s considered week-to-week, according to reporters including TSN’s Darren Dreger.
While Louis Domingue and Justin Peters isn’t the sort of goalie duo that will make shooters think twice about firing the puck, they’re both at least fairly experienced netminders.
(Considering Smith’s struggles with injuries and inconsistency, it’s not surprising that Arizona invested in a little insurance in Peters.)
Domingue is slated to start in net for the Coyotes against the New York Rangers on Sunday. It’s been a bumpy start for him so far, but Arizona has at least a theoretical advantage in that the Rangers played on Saturday.
As far as when Smith will be back? Well here’s a slight idea.
Dave Tippett does not think Mike Smith will be ready for home game vs. Colorado on Oct. 29, but he is not far from getting back on the ice.
Chances are, plenty of hockey fans – and maybe some members of the Colorado Avalanche – were uttering that question after Saturday night.
Well, we know this about Shane Harper: he scored his first two NHL goals at age 27, helping the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.
You can watch both of Harper’s goals in the recap video:
Harper also drew enough ire from the Avalanche to get into a bit of a skirmish following a hit.
So, who is Shane Harper?
For one thing, he’s from Valencia, California and did not go drafted.
His best junior season came in 2009-10, when he scored 42 goals and 80 points for the Everett Silvertips. He’s become quite the seasoned AHL veteran since then, and while his numbers won’t wow you, he did do enough in 2014-15 to maybe turn a head or two. Harper scored 32 goals and 50 points for the Chicago Wolves that season.
You can tell his teammates were happy for him – gentle ribbing and all – when the media asked about his career milestone: