It’s reasonable to gravitate toward all the young talent in Edmonton – three consecutive No. 1 overall picks will do that – but veteran players matter, too.
One of the surprising returnees is star-crossed winger Ales Hemsky, a talented forward who transforms to a tease because he’s so rarely on the ice.
Here’s the amount of games Hemsky played in recent seasons:
2009-10: 22 games played
2010-11: 47 games played
2011-12: 69 games played
The difference between last season and previous ones is that in most campaigns, his near point-per-game average made his frequent absences that much more disturbing.
Last season wasn’t the same, though, as he only scored 10 goals and 36 points in 69 contests.
Many believed that would sound the death knell for his time with the Oil, yet a notably loyal front office kept him around despite all the health headaches.
While another year of progress for the team’s prospect-pros and a hopeful boost in defense draw the greatest focus, getting more out of veterans such as Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff would be ideal.
The Czech-born playmaker actually needs to be on the ice to make that happen, though.