Edmonton's Undying Need to Trade Someone...

I can get behind a trade if and when it improves the quality of the team from which a player is leaving. I can also get behind a trade that if not for moving a player, that team risks getting no assets in return thanks to the status of a players contract. I just can't get behind a trade that involves a player because for lack of a better reason, fans are a tad unhappy with that players performance.

This is the state of where we as fans sit with Ales Hemsky. As if making trades hasn't been beaten enough to death here in Edmonton, the popular thing to do over the last couple of days seems to be debating whether or not the Oilers should rid themselves of a seemingly disinterested Ales Hemsky.

Are we kidding ourselves? From respected writers like Robin Brownlee over at Oilersnation to the average joe who has no idea of how the salary cap works, it seems that the hot topic right now is whether or not Hemsky should be considered a player on the way out.

I for one have never seen Hemsky as the building block in which a successful NHL playoff team was to be built around. Nor have I suggested that a winning formula be that Hemsky be the player you expect to get you the most points on your team. The Oilers have looked to Hemsky to fill that role in the past, but quite frankly, that's the main reason the Oilers haven't been that good a team. As good as Hemsky is for what he's paid, they need more than one guy who can get 60-70 points per season.

Ales Hemsky is a 70 point player. Little more, sometimes less. As fans, I'm sure it would be nice to see him become a point a game player, and perhaps one day he may (he's been extremely close in the past). But to put that kind of pressure on a kid just seven games into a new season is ridiculous. Hemsky has never shown his ability to be that guy, he isn't paid like that guy, and to suggest trading him when he shows he's not that guy, is the formula that's led other players to hitch a ride out of Edmonton faster than it can go from 10 degrees above to 15 degrees below.

Those of you out there suggesting the Oilers send Hemsky packing, answer a couple questions for me?

Who would you trade him for? He's not nearly valueable enough to fetch you a Kovalchuk or a Savard. But he's too valueable to move him for spare parts like a Chuck Kobasew who was traded from Boston to Minnesota on Sunday or a Kaberle who might be trade bait in Toronto. Would you trade him for Drew Stafford in Buffalo, who is rumoured to be on the radar of the Oilers? I wouldn't.

If you could trade him, how would you manage your salary cap? One of the great things about Hemsky, besides his natural skill; is the contract to which he's signed for the next three years including this one. At $4.1 million, even if he were to only get you 65 points (which is a reasonable expectation for Hemsky), he's a steal of a deal and one that is hard to find in the NHL. Moving him for someone of similar talent, virtually guarantees you bring more salary back than you can fit under the cap.

The sad part here, is that Hemsky is not even off to a bad start. He's got five points in six games. So what if he's looked a bit sluggish. When he chooses to play like Hemsky can, which is more often than not, he's a game changer. This sluggish phase will end. It's a matter of time.

But we may see that sluggish attitude move quickly to disgust and distate for the city and its fans, if we keep up the current trend of conversation.

As fans, have we learned nothing from our past mistakes? Did Comrie's return and subsequent near point per game pace teach us nothing about how not to treat our players? Did Pronger, Lupul, Peca, Arnott and many others who found it hard to perform infront of often intolerable fans, not show us that we have an uncanny ability to assist in the running of quality players out of town? Not one of our most attractive qualities Edmonton and it's no wonder the Heatley's, Hossa's and Kariya's think twice making Edmonton it's home as a professional NHL player.

Patience is a virtue. Perhaps we should try extending it to a player like Hemsky. He's had 66 points in 72 games, 71 in 74 games, 53 in 64 games, and 77 points in 82 games over the last four years. Those are the statistics of a player who deserves better.

Without patience, don't be surprised if his sluggish demeanor changes. If I performed up to my skill level for the last four years, was paid accordingly for it and it still wasn't enough, I'd consider a change of scenery. Wouldn't you?


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