I’ve been trying to think of a comparison for Ales Hemsky for a number of years now but haven’t really been able to come up with one.
Some have compared him to Marian Hossa but Hemsky’s defensive game is no where near that level and Hossa at one time was one of the Top point producers in the NHL. Hemsky has never hit that level.
Recently I’ve heard comparisons to Patrick Sharp. This one stumps me? Hemsky is a much more talented offensive player and is capable of putting up more points but Sharp much better leadership and defensive attributes. To me they are two different players.
Yesterday Lowtide did his Annual Expectations blog on Hemsky and used a comparison to Daniel Alfredsson. I'm pretty sure the context was that the Oilers should keep him so that he can fill that veteran leadership role on the Oilers in 5+ years. Unfortunately, if Hemsky isn’t healthy and putting up points, then he doesn’t have much to contribute to the team. Alfredsson could play on any of the Senators 4 lines and do well. Could you picture Hemsky playing on the 3rd or 4th line??? Or in a checking Role??? If you mentioned Smyth in the same sentence as Alfredsson then that would make more sense because Alfredsson is the heart and sole of his team. Has Hemsky ever been thought of as the heart and sole of the Oilers???
What I came up with was this. Years from now when people talk about Hemsky’s Career, I think the only true comparison people will be able to make is to Marian Gaborik...but a little lighter version.
Both are extremely dynamic offensive talents, both are often injured, both are from europe, both are great skaters and both are one dimensional talents...If the aren’t playing in an offensive role, they aren’t going to be contributing to the team winning.
Could this change...hell yeh!!! Hemsky can play but if he wants to be considered one of the games greats (and fit into the new identity of the the Oilers) he has to change his game a little. I wrote a blog yesterday where I talked about his chemistry on the Oilers last year. When watching, Hall, Eberle, Omark. etc last year there game really stood out compared to Hemsky. Here a few observations I made....
- - If the young guns didn’t have a play to make, when rushing the puck up the ice, the made the safe play and dumbed it in then battled for the puck in the corner. Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi used there speed to go to the out side of the defenders then get the puck to the net. Hemsky is well known for forcing the play at the blueline and tends to go to the middle, which when unsuccessful, leads to turn overs at the blue line.
- - The power play, when Hemsky is playing, has Hemsky playing the half boards and running the power play. Every team in the league knows this and again, if you check out my blog from yesterday, that system was very ineffective. Take away his passing lanes and the PP is null. Without Hemsky I noticed the powerplay was much more Dynamic. The players and the puck were moving around more and they had more success because of it.
- - I once heard Hemsky compared to Pavel Datsyuk. Please. This bring me to my next point. Hemsky has to get better when he doesn’t have the puck and take more defensive responsibility. Datsyuk had 38 Giveaways and 71 Takeaways. Yep he is the top of his class but lets look closer to home.
Jordan Eberle = 41GvA / 56 TkA = .73
Taylor Hall = 45 GvA / 45 TkA = 1.0
Sam Gagner = 38 GvA / 33 TkA = 1.15
Linus Omark = 35 GvA / 32 TkA = 1.09
Ales Hemsky = 32 GvA / 17 TkA = 1.88
Maybe it’s just me but one of these things is not like the other. This shows that there are player waiting in the wing that bring more to the overall team then Hemsky. I also have to wonder about his compete level. I’m sure he wants to win games but is he really willing to do those extra thing that need to be done (Forecheck, Backcheck, Etc.) in order to bring the team success???
If Hemsky changes his game, and takes a more defensive role, then one day he might be able to be compared to a great 2-way player, like Mr. Datsyuk. After all he has the offensive skill...but at this time he doesn’t have a defensive game so will remain compared to one trick ponies like Marian Gaborik...A good player but far from being one of the games greats. And just like Gaborik...or for that matter Heatly, Thornton, Semin, and such...they might help bring regular season success but when the cards are stacked and it’s grind time, they come up empty handed.
Who do think Hemsky will be compared to when his career is done???