No joke: Oilers, Hemsky agree to two-year, $10M deal

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Continuing a somewhat odd trend of Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini keeping the gang together (you know, despite that being nowhere near the playoffs factor), the team signed winger Ales Hemsky to a two-year, $10 million extension.

This serves as a solid raise for the fragile playmaker; Hemsky’s current deal carries a $4.1 million cap hit.

On paper, that’s a heck of a steal because he’s a very talented player. Unfortunately for the Oilers and Hemsky, his injury history means that there’s been a pretty big gulf between what he could achieve and what he’s been healthy enough to actually accomplish.

Hemsky has played in 47 of Edmonton’s 60 games so far this season, which is actually a solid rate considering the fact that he played 47 in all of last season. Want a telling summary of the good and the bad when it comes to him? Here are his yearly stats in games played and points since the lockout:

2005-06: 81 games, 77 points
06-07: 64 games, 53 points
07-08: 74 games, 71 points
08-09: 72 games, 66 points
09-10: 22 games, 22 points
10-11: 47 games, 42 points
11-12: 47 games, 26 points

The last three seasons justify my mental designation of Hemsky as a poor man’s, passing, right-handed version of Marian Gaborik.

Flames faux paus

Perhaps Hemsky’s injury woes explain this strange story via The Canadian Press: someone who runs the Calgary Flames Twitter feed – or maybe some unruly intern who noticed it was still logged in – posted a rather inflammatory message about the in-process deal.

“$10 Million over two years for Hemsky is the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long, long time. I hope it happens. #whatajoke”

The Tweet was deleted and the Flames went through the usual rounds of “we’re going to look into the matter” blather, but one cannot help but feel like someone nefarious might have simply expressed thoughts meant to be kept off the record.

Edmonton can simply respond with “glass houses,” because the Flames aren’t exactly a model franchise when it comes to wise contract dealings either.

In a way, that mini-squabble stems back to an intriguing inner-debate for fans of the rival franchises. Would you rather root for an expensive team seemingly destined for the playoff bubble with limited future prospects (the Flames) or a cellar dweller brimming with the dream of better days (the Oilers)?

That’s a fun debate to have, but whether the Flames think it’s amusing or not, Hemsky appears to be off the market – and thus a part of what Edmonton hopes is a near-future ascent to respectability.