Like most well-kept hockey secrets, news of Ales Hemsky’s potential or prospective trade to the LA Kings became publicly traded information within a week. Let’s get past the who said what to whom when and focus on the player the Edmonton Oilers wish to trade and the Kings may covet.
Goals. We need more of them. There are two means to this end. Acquiring a goal scorer (sniper) or a play maker. Though the two are not mutually exclusive, for the latter my favorite statistic is P/60 – points per 60 minutes of play. The top 10 relevant players (those who have played sufficient games to be relevant) are, in order:
(1) Sidney Crosby (3.98), (2) Pavel Datsyuk (3.56), (3) Steven Stamkos (3.24), (4) Daniel Cleary (3.09), (5) Ales Hemsky (3.08), (6) Rick Nash (3.05), (7) Alex Burrows (3.04), (8) Daniel Sedin (2.97), (9) Henrik Sedin (2.90), (10) Daniel Briere (2.84).
Anze Kopitar is number 21 behind Alexander Semin and ahead of Brad Richards. Three back of Anze is Justin Williams.
This season, Hemsky has 12 goals and 25 assists in 41 games. By comparison, the player now rumored to be in the Hemsky trade talks, Wayne Simmonds, has put up 9 goals and 11 assists in 56 games. As an important side note, I have personally never heard Wayne to be part of the trade but some credible hockey writers (I am looking at you, Bernstein) insist on it and so I consider it important to a complete analysis.
Is Hemsky what we lack?
Surprised by the answer?
Consider this. Anze has no one to feed him the puck. More often than not, he is looked upon to make the plays and score the goals. He can do both but not on a consistent basis. It is too much to ask from any one player not named Crosby or Ovechkin. We do know Anze Kopitar has a wicked wrist shot he doesn’t use enough and the size and speed that would open time and space for anyone with a scoring touch. A true top line skilled winger on Kopitar’s left or right would put up 30 goals. Add a play making ability to said winger and you have a Kopitar armed, ready & dangerous each time the pair hit the ice.
Like all good things, Ales Hemsky comes with baggage. Injuries. “Is Hemsky still out?” was a common question asked in jest on hockey message boards. Shoulder, concussion, groin, you name it. Hemsky has been there, done that and is still doing it. 2011 is off to a bad start for the mighty play making right wing. Do the Kings wish to inherit such fortune for the promise of something far better? Yes. But at what price?