Ales Hemsky is just full of surprises, isn't he?
In agreeing to a 2-year, $10-million deal with the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, the 28-year-old right wing passed up the chance to compete for a Stanley Cup in such lovely environs as Detroit and New York. He passed up an even higher raise as an unrestricted free-agent next summer, if Tuomo Ruutu's $4.75 million cap hit over four years was any indication. Most of all, he passed up on signing a long-term contract with the Oilers or elsewhere in the NHL.
A random staffer with the Calgary Flames infamously tweeted that this deal was a "joke" hours before it was official. (More on that at the bottom of the post.)
Two years at $5 million annually for Hemsky, with $25.3 million in projected cap space for 2012-13 before the deal and the contract done when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins comes off his rookie deal? It's no joke, even if the Oilers have a reason to smile.
"Ales can see the level of skill that's coming. The type of play we've seen lately with him and Hall is exciting," said GM Steve Tambellini, acknowledging that Hemsky joins Andy Sutton as veterans drinking the blue Kool-Aid.
When the Hurricanes re-signed Ruutu, GM Jim Rutherford put it plainly: It would cost as much or more to bring in a comparable player.
Before Hemsky re-upped, that's the sentiment shared by Oilers blogger Rob Soria on Our Hometown:
Bringing in a high grade UFA would likely cost the Oilers $4-$5 million a season and there would be no guarantee on what they would be getting. Where as in Ales, they know exactly what the player brings to the table and that he fits in nicely with the players in that dressing room. It definitely took him time to come to grips with the fact that he is no longer "the go-to guy" but I think he is more then ok with just being one of the guys and not the main focal point. As long as he is part of the plan and playing with talented players, I think Ales would be perfectly happy with staying in Edmonton.
Ales Hemsky signed a team-friendly 2-year deal this afternoon, meaning he'll play the better part of a decade with ridiculous value contract (this one and the last one). There should be no argument about dollars or term, this is a very nice contract. If the hockey Gods are paying attention, 83 will rip it up for those two years and cost the moon in 2014 summer.
Hemsky's ability to stay in the lineup is the main argument against bringing him back. He played 47 games last season, 22 games in 2009-10 and just 47 so far this season. He's also having his worst offensive season since 2004, with a 0.55 points per game average.
But historically, he's been close to 0.90 points per game. You're not going to find many of those players for less than $5 million annually in 2012, unless you're trading assets for a cheaper hit on a long-term deal (i.e. someone else's problem, if that player's actually available).
Bottom line: Ales Hemsky took a hometown discount and put aside his desire for a long-term deal to stay in Edmonton. And you can count how many times that's happened to Edmonton in last dozen years without the necessity of using both hands.
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(Ed. Note: The Calgary Flames published a post on that embarrassing Twitter incident from earlier in the day, when a staff member wrote that the Hemsky contact was "the funniest thing I've heard in a long, long time" and hash-tagged it #whatajoke.
Wrote the Flames: "The tweet was meant to come from a personal account, which we do not condone either, but mistakenly made its way onto our timeline. It is an internal issue that will be dealt with and it does not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the Calgary Flames organization."
Clearly, there needs to be some web media training for the organization. Not because of the Hemsky tweet; rather, because the Flames took our images of that tweet and placed them on their website without attribution. #whatajoke)