Despite two 70-point seasons to his pedigree, that Ales Hemsky is not the player Bergevin inked to a one-year, one-million-dollar contract this summer. A quick look at the last five seasons reveals that when healthy, Hemsky remains a player who will participate in roughly 70 games per season and contribute in the mid-30’s point range. Considering his friendly contract, a healthy Hemsky will be a welcome addition at the bottom of the roster.
Hemsky started the season at his usual pace of 0.5 ppg before suffering a torn labrum in his hip which ended his season. Hemsky already has an extensive list of injuries to his name despite regularly hitting the 70 games played. Adding a hip injury to a player that is mostly known for his speed and shiftiness is the most likely explanation as to why Bergevin could sign such a productive player for so cheap.
2016-2017 Season Stats: 15 GP, 4 goals, 3 assists, 7 points, -1 rating, 0 PIMS, 1 PPG, 30 shots
Five Year Averages
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are pro-rating all of 2012-13’s numbers over a full 82 game season.)
The stats line above essentially depicts exactly what can be expected from this player. Hemsky can take a regular shift, but only next to players who can finish plays while excelling defensively (likely why Hemsky’s best career seasons were next to Shawn Horcoff). This is exactly why I expect Hemsky to line up on what could be a surprisingly productive third line with Paul Byron and Tomas Plekanec. He is not expected to kill penalties, will play sparingly on the power play, and is even likely to be replaced by Andrew Shaw in the critical moments of the periods and games, especially if the Habs are attempting to protect a lead.
This role could be modified, but this depends more on the play of others in the lineup far more than Hemsky himself. If Shaw starts the season the way he finished last year, Hemsky could be pushed down to fourth line duty. If any of the expected top-six really struggle out of the gate, perhaps Claude Julien would be tempted to play Hemsky higher in the lineup. But these are big question marks. It would be more logical to see Hemsky play mostly at even strength with responsible linemates that still have enough skill to finish the plays he can create.
Despite what the five year averages depict, Hemsky has been rather regular in his production prior to last season. He won’t blow anyone away anymore, but he has too much skill not to produce when facing third pairings. The other aspect of his game that will likely be very appreciated by the media and fans of the team is that he, much like Jonathan Drouin, is very successful at carrying the puck into the opposing zone instead of dumping and hustling after it. Where his game may frustrate is when he is stuck in puck battles, as he is no wizard at winning those.
From a fantasy league perspective, this could be an excellent sleeper pick in the last round that will be completely off most radars due to an inexistent 2016-2017 season. Buyer beware though, this pick is only a viable one in leagues that only track points, and only if the league is quite deep. Any additional stats (PIM, shots, +/-) are definite deterrents to anyone who wants to select Hemsky. If he can manage to stay healthy (and that could be a big IF after a hip injury), his stat line should look like this by April.