Oilers v. Coyotes - Matthew 16:21-23

From that day forward Hemsky began to tell his teammates that it was necessary for him to stay in Edmonton even though he would suffer many terrible insults at the hands of the local media, the national media, and even from his own people, the team's fans. He would be crucified day after day, but would also rise and play his heart out game after game, never turn his back on the Oilers.

These words distressed young Taylor, and so he turned to Hemsky and said, "Good God, Hemmer! That sounds awful! May it never happen like that!"

But Hemsky looked at him and said, "Get away from me, Satan! Why do you tempt me with wanting to leave? Don't you know that I know it's unjust? But you are seeing things from a strictly human perspective and not through God's eyes."

Phoenix Coyotes (31-21-9) @ Edmonton Oilers (24-30-6)

Rexall Place, 2:00 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

I really thought that the Phoenix Coyotes would be trending down this year, but they just keep rolling along. I commented on the Antoine Vermette trade a few days ago, and it's safe to say that I think the Coyotes did very well, which seems to be a pretty consistent pattern for GM Don Maloney. When the ownership situation in Phoenix gets sorted out, it'll be interesting to see what kind of budget the Coyotes get. If they get a bump, the team has a very good young core of defenders that they could keep in tact to go along with a GM who knows how to buy low on quality players (Vermette, Langkow), and a coach who's goal (judging by the "he can't develop young players" thing) is always to win. They probably need a couple pieces up front before they're real contenders, but overall, that's a fun team to cheer for.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (24-30-6):

Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Hemsky
Smyth - Gagner - Eberle
Eager - Horcoff - Paajarvi
Hordichuk - Belanger - Petrell

Sutton - Gilbert
Smid - Petry
Whitney - Potter


Phoenix Coyotes (31-21-9):

Whitney - Hanzal - Vrbata
Korpikoski - Vermette - Doan
Boedker - Langkow - Torres
Bissonnette - Gordon - Pyatt

Yandle - Aucoin
Ekman-Larsson - Rozsival
Summers - Stone


By the Numbers:

  • Ales Hemsky got a $5M contract even though he's only scored five goals this season. That's $1M per goal!
  • Seriously, though. If I understand correctly, the angst around the Hemsky deal has to do with his lack of scoring goals, his down season this year, and his injury history. Fair concerns, but come on. Ales Hemsky was heading to free agency at 28 years old with a career points per game rate of 0.78. It's not like there are a lot of examples of players under 32 going to free agency with a career point per game rate of 0.70 or better doing worse than Hemsky. But there are a few. Simon Gagne got two years and $3.5M per year last season from the Kings. Alex Tanguay settled for one year and $2.5M from the Lightning in 2009-10, and then one year and $1.7M from the Flames in 2010-11. There might be others, but those are the ones that jump to mind. This would have been Hemsky's extreme downside in free agency.
  • I don't think it would have come to that. When you've got much less proven players with some injuries getting great money, it's a tough to get me to buy into the idea that Hemsky didn't leave a tonne of money on the table. If Tomas Fleischmann can get four years at $4.5M with a NMC, I'd have to think that Hemsky (in a soft UFA market) could do at least that well. Hemsky left a lot of money on the table here. If he can in fact stay in the lineup consistently and perform at his career point per game rate against the other team's best players, well, that's tremendous value.
  • One thing that might make that very tough is (lack of) opportunity on the power play. In the games that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has played (welcome back, by the way!), Hemsky hasn't gotten nearly as much power play time. Hemsky has averaged 2:27 per game on the season, which is the lowest number of his career (including his rookie season). If Hemsky continues to be left out of the mix on the first unit power play, it will likely be difficult for him to keep up his points per game pace. That doesn't mean he isn't still an outstanding player at evens, but if the Oilers are only going to use him on the second unit PP (and not at all on the PK), it will make it harder to get great value from this deal.
  • Enough Hemsky though. Linus Omark has been called up and Anton Lander sent down! This is a good thing because I enjoy Omark, but it's also good for the Oilers regarding Lander. That's partly because Lander has struggled, but also because he creeps closer and closer to needing to clear waivers in the last year of his entry-level deal with every game he plays. The limit there is 80 games played. I know it seems like he should have established himself in the NHL by then, but if the Oilers are going to be a winning team, I'm not convinced that's going to be the case.
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