Hemsky speaks on reasonable expectations for the rookies..

By , August 28, 2010 12:26 am
I predict 734 points for Hall this year, with 602 of those being goals..

I predict 734 points for Hall this year, with 602 of those being goals..

With the Khabibulin case casting a huge shadow over all things Oilers, it’s good to hear some positivity out there, and this positivity comes from none other than Ales Hemsky. But he also has a bit of a word of caution as well for fans.

Jim Matheson writes of Ales Hemsky quelling unreachable expectations by fans for the young players on this team. “Everybody is expecting they (the rookies) are going to light it up, but they don’t have to be perfect,” said Hemsky. “People expect 80 or 90 points, but it’s not easy in this league. People have to realize that. They will be good. Looking back, I don’t think I was ready when I was 19 or 20, physically or mentally, but everybody is different.”

I agree with Hemsky on this, and I’ve been saying it all along. Very few players explode into the league like Ovechkin, Malkin and Crosby. Expect there to be some growing pains with each of these guys, just like there has been with Gagner and Cogliano. I don’t want to get into that argument too much, but it is pretty disconcerting that some people out there have already thrown out the possibility that Gagner will be our #1C (to that, I say, prepare to hold on to your seat this season).

At any rate, fan expectation needs to be reasonable. It is one thing to hope for these guys to score 70, 60, 50, or even just 40 points. But it’s another thing to actually expect these players to do it. There are far more cases for players that took a while to break out than there are for players that had huge seasons their first year in the league. 2009-10 league points-leader and Hart Trophy Winner Henrik Sedin barely broke 40 points after 4 full years in the league. Eric Staal only had 31 points in his first NHL season, and spent the following (full) year in the AHL. The 3rd pro-year he unloaded with 45 goals and 100 points, however. Jason Spezza experienced a somewhat similar development path. He played about a season and a half with the Senators and was sent down to Binghamton after seemingly succumbing to immense fan pressure (*). The year in the minors did him some good, as he came back with a huge 90 point season in just 68 NHL games.

So Oilers fans, I plead you not to set the bar low, but to simply remember that it takes time to develop players. And as such, if and when any or all of these guys have a rough start/finish next season, don’t abandon hope. It isn’t necessarily going to be an easy road for any of these guys. But I do believe they will get there. That may even mean some extended time in the AHL (or OHL for Hall.. although I think they will keep him up here) for some of them. And I do also believe (as mentioned many times) that Gagner will also be one of those guys that get there (frankly, I think he’ll take a big step this year).

One more thing from the article I really liked is that Hemsky has heard some good things about Magnus Paajarvi (imagine several dots all over his name). “I think Paajarvi has the advantage because he has played against men in a league in Sweden. He should be ready,” said Hemsky. “I have a couple of friends who’ve played with him and they think he’s really good.” Hemsky continues to glow about Hall and Eberle as well. I suggest reading the rest of the Journal article linked above. There’s some good stuff in there.

* – as Steve-O noted in the comment section, both Staal and Spezza played in the AHL during the lockout year, although I think too that Spezza in particular struggled with fan expectation after his first full year.

23 Responses to “Hemsky speaks on reasonable expectations for the rookies..”

  1. Steve-O says:

    Stall and Spezza’s full year in the A was during the lockout I believe.

    And in my earlier post on the forwards I bet only one of the rookies hit 40 points.

  2. Bostonoiler says:

    This is a good sign. i’m hoping for them to all explode, but I think 50 will be the max for one of them. Anywhere from 30-50 should be expect. I’ll be happy if its in there.

  3. Racki says:

    Steve-O: oh right, I forgot that would have occured at lockout time.. although I seem to recall talk about Spezza specifically being sent down there at some point to work on his game (and having some troubles with pressure). That might have been the first trip down there, actually. But on that note, they still are cases for needing some extra time to develop. The Journal article also mentions Jumbo Joe, and Vinny Lecavalier. Add in there Jarome Iginla. He had some good seasons 4 or 5 years in, but he didn’t really explode until that 50+ goal season.

    Also, I’m going to put up some point expectations (a la Lowetide’s “Reasonable expectations”) for players down the road, before the season starts.

  4. Steve-O says:

    Not that I don’t agree with you. I think that age of players got somewhat lucky with the lockout, which allowed them all to get in an extra year of seasoning without costing a year in the show.

  5. zackman35 says:

    Hey Racki, I emailed you about a theme…

    I really hope Tambo makes a few more moves, there seem to be some lingering issues (Souray/Khabi) going into camp and a few holes to fill, namely CENTER. Most of all is I’m concerned that we’re going to be lucky to break .500 with this current roster, prove me wrong but how fun is it for rookies to play in that kind of atmosphere.

    Now I’m not saying that we have to be heading for the cup for rookies to get their shot but at least have a decent shot at making the playoffs. We can only say so much but what’s the pressure going to be like if we have another season similar to last years? Hall and Seguin were already “Preparing for the Media” pre-draft and I assume it has something to do with this issue.

    Bottom of the line, I hope ST can make a few moves before camp that at least will give us some reassurance with our roster and hopefully will make the development process a little less bumpy.

  6. Racki says:

    Steve-O: Not that I don’t agree with you.I think that age of players got somewhat lucky with the lockout, which allowed them all to get in an extra year of seasoning without costing a year in the show.

    Oh yah I do agree… that for sure helped the team out. My only point on these guys was that it isn’t an instant process where a superstar comes in the league steps in the league and dominates, except in more rare cases. Spezza and Staal are still not exceptions to that even though that year in the AHL might not have happened without the lockout, granted.

  7. Bostonoiler says:

    I’m just trying to think here.

    Hall 30-45 points
    MPS 30-50 points (I think he will win calder)
    Eberle 30-45 points

    I think that is a fair expectation. I think all 3 will be able to hit 30 points, and you know what thats better than Nilsson and O’Sullivan could do. Plus Gagner. Hemsky, Penner and Brule should take some pressure off the kids scoring wise.

  8. Bostonoiler says:

    zackman35: Hey Racki, I emailed you about a theme…I really hope Tambo makes a few more moves, there seem to be some lingering issues (Souray/Khabi) going into camp and a few holes to fill, namely CENTER. Most of all is I’m concerned that we’re going to be lucky to break .500 with this current roster, prove me wrong but how fun is it for rookies to play in that kind of atmosphere. Now I’m not saying that we have to be heading for the cup for rookies to get their shot but at least have a decent shot at making the playoffs. We can only say so much but what’s the pressure going to be like if we have another season similar to last years? Hall and Seguin were already “Preparing for the Media” pre-draft and I assume it has something to do with this issue. Bottom of the line, I hope ST can make a few moves before camp that at least will give us some reassurance with our roster and hopefully will make the development process a little less bumpy.

    I don’t think management cares about making the playoffs this season. I think this season they want to give the kids some ice time and get another good prospect in the draft. I hope and think this roster can fight, but we will see.

  9. Racki says:

    zackman35: Hey Racki, I emailed you about a theme…I really hope Tambo makes a few more moves, there seem to be some lingering issues (Souray/Khabi) going into camp and a few holes to fill, namely CENTER. Most of all is I’m concerned that we’re going to be lucky to break .500 with this current roster, prove me wrong but how fun is it for rookies to play in that kind of atmosphere.
    Now I’m not saying that we have to be heading for the cup for rookies to get their shot but at least have a decent shot at making the playoffs. We can only say so much but what’s the pressure going to be like if we have another season similar to last years? Hall and Seguin were already “Preparing for the Media” pre-draft and I assume it has something to do with this issue.
    Bottom of the line, I hope ST can make a few moves before camp that at least will give us some reassurance with our roster and hopefully will make the development process a little less bumpy.

    I wonder if he will though given how many players we have competing for roster spots currently at all positions (except goaltending, perhaps). As some of us had discussed, there’s even a few players in the system that could compete for those defensive spots (although I certainly wouldn’t mind a pk/faceoff guy joining the team). But there are guys like Vande Velde, Hartikainen, O’Marra, MacDonald, Reddox to compete for a checking role too.

  10. Racki says:

    Loving the new theme idea.. woooooo. I shouldn’t have designed a new one, cause i think whenever that is ready, that’ll be one most people will want to use. Good start so far.

  11. zackman35 says:

    Bostonoiler:
    I don’t think management cares about making the playoffs this season. I think this season they want to give the kids some ice time and get another good prospect in the draft. I hope and think this roster can fight, but we will see.

    Well what I was trying to say is it’s not so much about making the playoffs as letting the kids play with a winning atmosphere. To be honest the only player in our system that I would like/feel comfortable about seeing on our roster is probably MPS because he’s played in the SEL. If it wasn’t for his age I would start Hall in the AHL. He may be good, great even but I hope his development wont struggle because management wants to sell tickets. (Not that sending him back to the OHL would do anything but I’m not sure if he’s ready quite yet)

    And thanks Racki!

  12. Mr.Majestyk says:

    Its hard to come up with point totals for the rookies since we still don’t know which ones will make the roster when the season begins, and what kind of role they will play. I’m leaning on the high side for their point totals because our rookies will likely get tons of opportunity where they wouldn’t on other teams where winning hockey games is the main goal(I don’t think that is our main concern this season unfortunately). What management would like to see is for our young players to develop.

    I agree with Zackman’s idea of bringing kids into a winning environment, I think thats crucial but I guess the Oilers don’t look at it the same way I do. Its the offseason now and everyone is excited for the year to begin, but halfway through the season when we’re setting another record for longest losing streak in Oilers history, or just plain getting dominated night in and night out, that is taxing on the players. At some point, its not fun anymore. They don’t want to come to the rink because they know what the result will be at the end of the night. They might have confidence going into a game but when they get scored on in the first 2 minutes that basically spells game over because it happens all the time so the player thinks ‘here we go again’.

    It could work out for us and we’ll be a much better team than we were last year. My beef if I have one is that there is no contingency plan. Ryan O’Marra as checking line center? Thats fine if he steps up and can do that job, but I’d rather have some other guy signed by the Oilers and if a guy like O’Marra is able to step up and supplant that veteran checker for the role on the team, so be it. He earned it. If O’Marra wins the checking center role on our team, who did he win it from?

    Despite the added bodies and competition for roster spots, its still feels like we are handing out roster spots this year, same as the year Gags and Cogs made the lineup. We have some fantastic prospects and nobody will dispute that, but we don’t have enough depth and apparently the Oilers don’t care. I expect us to lose but will be pleasantly surprised if we win.

  13. chucker says:

    Yeah, I’m preparing for a season where my expectations are low.

    All I’m looking to see is improved effort, improved PK and PP, and less goals against.

    Like MM said though, it’s not like these rookies are fighting proven NHL vets for their jobs. I think the plan is that these guys we signed can be brought up to fill holes when the rookies need to go to the A for a while, but yeah, losing sucks and isn’t fun after a while. It would have been nice to see that defenssive centreman signed.

    Having said that, who knows? Maybe this is the year that Cogs and Gags, Gilbert et. al. step up and act/play like vets? I sure hope so or we’re in for another long year.

    Now with goaltending a huge question, this does not help unless we miraculously get to sign Niemi. On D, I feel Tambi was handcuffed to Souray and there is a slight logjam of 3-7 D men there already.

    Why is nothing easy in Oilersnation?

  14. Steve-O says:

    I just think that if management is planning on tossing the season (i.e. not bringing in help defensively) then send Hall back to junior.

    But then what would the team sell the fans on?

  15. gr8one says:

    Tough call on sending Hall back to Jr.

    I mean, on one hand it really would suck to burn a year of his entry level deal in a toss out season. But I honestly don’t see Jr. being that great for his development and could end up stagnating it. I think I’d still lean toward having him in the NHL playing against men.

    It really is a shame he can’t play in OKC, if he were that would be a no-brainer to me.

    Does management need to sell the fans on the team? Yeah Hall is the real “star” power right now, but there is still a lot of love out there for Eberle and MPS, and if the season goes on and we are terrible again, than start serving up the Sean Couturier/Adam Larsson wine.

    To be honest, if we could package up some of our excess players(Think Cogs/Omark+ after half a season of cherry minutes increasing their value) at the deadline to a contender for a high end D prospect and than draft Couturier, I’d be over the moon.

    With some good management and foresight we would then be positioned to be Chicago 2.0, but without the after the cup selloff.

  16. Racki says:

    The team can sell the fans on MPS/Eberle/Omark still. The thing I like about those guys is we can send them down if they show signs of struggling. With Hall, sadly, we’ve only got 9 games or whatever to decide whether he’s playing here or the OHL. Damned CHL agreement.

    Anyways, I too question whether another year of Junior will help his career. But I wouldn’t be too opposed to the idea.

    We’ll have to see how things go for him come TC. Different guys handle different situations.. differently. What didn’t work for Gagner might in fact work for Hall. The ball is in his court.

    I think if things look a bit rough going early on for Hall, we should hold him back a year and keep him in the OHL. We’ll have that 9 regular season game window, plus TC, plus exhibition to try and evaluate him. Of course Tambellini’s still evaluating whether we need a PK’ing center though….. :P

  17. neufab says:

    Although it would drive fans crazy, I would like to see the Oilers build a Calder Cup winning team and send guys to the NHL only when they look out of place rather than anticipating a miracle. Creating a “winning culture” at the lower level could see long term benefits while standing up to fan pressure. Bring in 1 rookie and give Comrie 1 more year.

    Some are asking; what do have to loose by giving ‘anyone’ a shot? — Nothing if it works I guess, but we could loose a great player by refusing to ice a competitive team.

    I’m sorry but I doubt my boss would let me tank a year. It just wouldn’t be good management. I suppose plan B lies in free agency left-overs. At this point, there remain multiple options to fill the roster should things get too ugly. There’s just too much time to anticipate things with these long off-season’s.

    I am glad that Hemsky is tempering fan expectations… unfortunate that it’s needed though.

  18. Racki says:

    Yah I would love to see Oklahoma City have a strong and competitive team as much as I’d like to see MPS/Eberle/Hall this year. There’s definitely a much better chance that OKC will have a competitive team this year than the Oilers will.

  19. neufab says:

    Gagner, Brule & Cogliano could use a year without being relied upon to carry this team as much as Eberle, Hall, MP, & whatever other rookie. Signing Comrie and 2 more experience NHL’ers with an edge would be the best thing for this team long term.

    I don’t see Tambellini doing anything (Khabi sentence pending) until 10-15 games into the season.

  20. Mr.Majestyk says:

    I’d be surprised if Tambi makes any moves once the season starts as well. I figured he’d make a few moves last year to shore up the team after reviewing the evidence that the team as it stood wasn’t good enough. I am excited for the season but its a bit disheartening to think that the team has no contingency plan in the event that things don’t go the way they hope they will. I think we could have a good team this year if everything goes the way they hope, but if anything goes wrong, we’re done. This is mostly because they won’t address any of the teams shortcomings because of the rebuild.

  21. Racki says:

    I think Tambellini would like to evaluate the team this year… :P

  22. chucker says:

    Racki: I think Tambellini would like to evaluate the team this year…

    Yeah, no need to rush anything until the team’s been fully evaluated. :P

  23. zackman35 says:

    chucker:
    Yeah, no need to rush anything until the team’s been fully evaluated.

    He feels confident in giving our young goalie some time who has been so successful in the AHL level, its time he moves up the depth chart.

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