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Lyle Richardson
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Ales Hemsky had 22 points in 22 games before going down with a shoulder injury for the rest of the season. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

News

Clear as Oil

Lyle Richardson
By:

Edmonton Oilers right winger Ales Hemsky has two years remaining on his current contract, but it’s possible he’ll complete it elsewhere.

During a recent live chat between Edmonton Journal hockey reporters Dan Barnes, Jim Matheson and Oilers fans, Matheson suggested Hemsky, eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2012, wouldn’t re-sign once his contract expired. Matheson feels the Oilers will give the playmaker one more season and then start taking offers.

Blogger David Staples believed Hemsky could re-sign with the Oilers, provided he and the team keep improving.

The Oilers appear to be in full rebuild mode and if they show only marginal improvement next season over their woeful performance in 2009-10, one shouldn’t rule out the possibility of Hemsky being shopped before next summer and as early as next season’s trade deadline.

Matheson also responded to a reader’s email regarding the possibility of the Oilers signing former NHL superstar Jaromir Jagr, who seriously considered an offer from the team prior to signing with Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental League two years ago.

Jagr will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and Matheson suggested he might be a good fit with fellow Czech Hemsky. Although he noted Jagr would probably want the Oilers to also sign forward Roman Cervenka. He rated the odds of Edmonton signing Jagr at around “60-40,” but wasn’t sure about Cervenka.

If the Oilers are serious about rebuilding, they’ll forget about an aging Jagr and his baggage and focus instead on getting younger, bigger and faster.

• Matheson also suggested veteran left winger Simon Gagne might be the Philadelphia Flyers’ best bargaining chip should they get into the trade market this summer for a goaltender like Boston’s Tim Thomas or Montreal’s Carey Price.

Gagne, however, has another season remaining on his current contract at $5.25 million and if he doesn’t waive his no-trade clause he won’t be going anywhere. His injury history could also hurt his market value.

Better trade bait for the Flyers include forwards Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux, as neither comes with a movement clause, but it remains to be seen if GM Paul Holmgren is willing to part with either for a goaltender.

• Atlanta Thrashers veteran left winger Slava Kozlov recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he’s already received contract offers from “five or six” KHL teams for next season. But Kozlov, who’s eligible for UFA status in July, intends to explore all his options, including the potential of signing with an NHL team.

Kozlov, 37, had only 26 points in 55 games with the Thrashers this season, but in 2008-09 had a 76-point performance.

He clashed with former Thrashers coach John Anderson this season, but it’s possible an NHL club seeking a veteran top-six forward would be willing to gamble that a change of scenery would help Kozlov regain his scoring touch.

Kozlov, however, shouldn’t expect a multi-year contract at his age and he might not get any offers above $3 million in the NHL. If money is his motivation, he’ll find better offers in Russia.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.

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