We’re a little less than two months from the NHL’s Feb. 27 trade deadline, but the rumor mill never sleeps. And ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun stoked the fire this week by wondering if the Kings or Red Wings might make a play for Edmonton forward Ales Hemsky.
The Edmonton Journal mentioned the same two teams as possible Hemsky trade partners Thursday. Hemsky has had major issues staying healthy throughout his career — he’s already missed 13 games this season — and will be an unrestricted free agent in July, both reasons why the Oilers might consider trying to trade him.
However, as the Journal points out, the Oilers could badly use some production from Hemsky up front to complement their top line of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall. Thus far, Hemsky has just 11 points (3 G, 8 A) on the season.
“I’m not worried about it (trade or new deal). You guys can talk about this,” Hemsky said. “Whatever happens, happens.
“If it happens here or somewhere else, it’s out of my hands.”
Hemsky has played his entire eight-season NHL career with the Oilers, putting up 20 goals twice and tallying 406 points. He’d add another offensive threat to Detroit’s lineup — and the Red Wings have more than enough cap room to go after him.
However, it’s unclear what it would take to pry him loose. The Journal reported that the Oilers would be in the market for a defenseman in return, though it rightly pointed out Detroit would be unwilling to move Brendan Smith for Hemsky.
Who would that leave? Maybe Jakub Kindl, if Detroit commits to Mike Commodore, Smith or trades for another defenseman. The minor-league options are fairly limited — Brian Lashoff or Xavier Ouellet could be options, but probably would force the Wings to put together a package deal.
Given how much money Detroit has to work with at the deadline — north of $5 million — there might be better options out there than Hemsky. If nothing else, the forward may need to show he’s healthy and able to contribute before any contending teams make a move.