I generally take most rumors with a grain of salt, but I figured I’d mention it here since there is some downtime before the next game. The Fourth Period is reporting that the Kings have shown interest in the Oilers. So… should the Oilers really be interested in moving Hemsky? For me, I’d say it would have to take something quite good in return, especially if the Kings are involved.
On the bad side of things, trading a guy like Hemsky within the conference could be risky. Thankfully we only face the Kings four times per year, however. But I think everyone remembers the pain of trading Pronger within the conference. He’s also easily the best player on the team at the moment. He has a great contract ($4.1M cap hit, expires at the end of next year).
On the good side, he’s one of our more marketable assets, which means he could fetch us a good player. That contract is quite low for a player that is nearly a point-per-game player on a basement dweller. He’s also been fairly injury prone the past few years, so moving him might help in having a body in the lineup that can stay in the lineup.
WHO SHOULD WE TARGET?
So if we’re trading with the Kings, who do we trade for? Well, the obvious one would be Team Canada U-20 star forward Brayden Schenn. A rumor circulated a couple of months ago about Schenn for Iginla. This rumor was denied by a Flames source, according to the article in the link. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from years of watching hockey, it’s that GM’s aren’t often going to let you in on what they’re thinking. Basically a Schenn for Hemsky trade could make sense. Schenn is 6’0 198lbs and plays center.
The Kings have seen some fault in Brayden Schenn’s defensive game. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to give up on him. But that probably helps them feel better about moving him, at the right price. Los Angeles King’s GM Dean Lombardi had this to say on Schenn’s D-game: “He really struggled in his own end when you look at it, and that’s critical if you’re going to play here. He had a real tendency to just follow the puck versus understanding the time and space. There’s three things a player’s got to do: he’s got to read it, and he’s got to understand it and then he’s got to compete.” Schenn was sent down to play with the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL for a conditioning stint before being returned to the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. Word is, his defensive game is getting better, but he hasn’t had much time to work on it yet.
Schenn of course played in the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo and tied the record for most points in a single WJHC tournament (18 points). He later admitted that he could barely lift his arm at the end of the WJHCs. He had separated his shoulder in the game against Switzerland and received injections to help keep him in the lineup. The kid has battle and wants to win.
Some other players we might be interested in:
Jarett Stoll: We always come back to former Oilers, but let’s face it… the worst thing about trading Stoll was that the Oilers never replaced him. Should he be brought back? His salary is fairly high, but he could play 2nd line center behind Gagner (maybe 3rd when Horcoff returns) and chip in on points while taking care of business in his own zone. He’s a good checker and shot blocker, and of course plays a very good PK shift. The Kings should have to offer more than just Stoll in return for Hemsky.
Wayne Simmonds: Again, a player like Simmonds would not be a sole piece coming our way for Hemsky (perhaps a Stoll + Simmonds for Hemsky would work though). However, he would give us a right winger that can play a physical game, with solid defensive skills. He probably wouldn’t be good enough to be a permanent fixture in the top-six, however… or perhaps I should say he SHOULDN’T be a permanent fixture there (on this team, you just don’t know).
Matt Greene: Again with the former Oiler. I actually have never been that keen on Matt Greene. But aside from Doughty or Johnson (neither of which is happening), he’s the d-man that most closely fits what we need on the blueline. Again, not the centerpiece of a deal, however.
Jack Johnson: Highly unlikely he’ll be traded after signing a new contract… but anyone remember Lubomir Visnovsky and his contract extension with a no-trade clause? It’s not completely unlikely. Johnson has been an interest story. There have been stories of him being another Lindros-case in the past (being greedy, and his father being a pain-in-the-ass with contract negotiations). However, he signed fairly cheap on his last contract, and word is he now represents himself. So I think those stories can be put to bed. Anyways, he pretty much does it all. He’s quick, he hits hard, is solid defensively and is very good offensively. For those reasons, he really probably should be in the untouchables section below, but I think there is still a small chance he could be moved despite the new contract. He would be a centerpiece in a deal.
Brayden Schenn: (see “WHO DO WE TARGET?” section)
Derek Forobort: The defenseman is pretty huge at 6’5″ and 200 lbs. I don’t know enough about him though, so here is the scouting report from Hockey’s Future on him: “One of the most talented defensemen in the 2010 draft. Exceptional decision-making. Has the size and skating and is very agile. Doesn’t like to carry the puck, but his passes are laser sharp. He could stand to add a bit of grit to his game.”
Jordan Nolan: Not exactly the cream of the crop. However, he’s an enforcer that is said to be able to play the game. He can play a bit of defense, and has 7 points in 35 games with the Monarchs so far. Here’s a fight of Nolan’s in which he received a 20 game suspension. He might be a bit of a loose cannon… but I won’t deny that we could use a player like that.
Thomas Hickey: From Hockey’s Future: “Hickey’s strong suit is his skating ability, a skill that has enabled him to excel in the WHL at a young age. Another product of the successful Hockey Canada programs, Hickey exudes confidence on and off the ice. He plays bigger than his 5’11, 185-pound frame might suggest. A well-spoken player with great on-ice vision. Uses his skating ability to move the puck out of the zone and pressure the opposition’s forwards up-ice. Might develop into a future powerplay quarterback.”
Lastly of course, draft picks would be an option. Right now the Kings are sitting right in the middle. It wouldn’t be an extremely high pick, but who wouldn’t want another pick? We’ve learned now the importance of building a strong team from scratch is to do it through the draft. And the best way to keep it strong is to draft strong.
If we happen to catch Lombardi napping, or sweeten the pot with a good prospect, here are the players that are on the wish list… but don’t expect it to happen at all (this is wishful thinking only):
Dustin Brown: Would be nice to be able grab him. We could use a power forward like him that has the aggressiveness he does. I don’t think the Kings would part with him at all, however.
Drew Doughty: Zero chance he’s moved, so I won’t even talk about him. I just include him because that’s what this section is for.. naming the players that I’d love to have, but are untouchable.
Anze Kopitar: Again zero chance of being moved.
There is a trade there, if we want one. It could work. I’m not in any hurry whatsoever to move Ales Hemsky though. This stuff is more fun to talk about than anything. It would pain me to see Hemsky in another uniform. On a less selfish note, a line with Kopitar and Hemsky together could be pretty exciting to watch. I’m sure the Kings would have a lot of interest in Hemsky (like most teams). However, if we’re considering the Kings, the Oilers should definitely be looking elsewhere too, and I’d say best choice would be out East (where Hemsky would almost undoubtedly thrive). We don’t trade him though unless we get some significant future building blocks for him. Meaning, something silly like Greene + Stoll for Hemsky doesn’t anywhere near cut it.
So, new poll time…