Ales Hemsky left tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild at the end of the 1st period with sore shoulder and did not return. The talented winger has had surgery on each of his shoulders over the last two seasons. News that Hemsky hurt his shoulder tonight is only mildly more surprising than the Ottawa Senators lost. Yeah, it was that predictable.
The worst part of the deal is that played well in his 5:28 first period minutes before he left for the rest of the game. You could make the argument that he was the best player on his line—which will put him high in the running for player of the game on a nightly basis. Such is life when he’s the answer to the answer to the trivia question: Who plays on the same line as Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins?
The shootout loss means Edmonton is now winless in their last 17 games in Minnesota since January of 2007. For some perspective, the last time the Oil won in the Twin Cities, Kyle Turris was supposed to be the next coming and Phil Kessel was going to be the next superstar in Boston.
No one wants to lose any games (especially divisional games), but the bigger story from Minnesota is Hemsky suffering yet another injury. Hemsky missed 60 games in 2009-10 with his first shoulder injury; then missed another 35 more games with another shoulder injury last season after the trade deadline. He’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and unquestionably wants to put his best foot forward as he looks for a new contract at the end of the season. He’s making $5 million this season ($4.1 million cap hit)—the last year of his 6-year, $24.6 million contract.
When he’s on the ice, he’s one of the best players on a team stacked with talented young forwards. His 492 career games make him a virtual senior citizen around guys like Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, Hall, and Nugent-Hopkins. From the team’s point of view, the Oilers could use Hemsky’s talent as well as his experience. From Hemsky’s standpoint, he could use a healthy season going into free agency.
Hemsky’s scheduled to be reevaluated on Friday to determine the severity of his injury. But at this point, will anyone be willing to take a chance on him if he can’t stay on the ice?