General manager Jim Nill has made a number of moves this offseason with the intent of getting the Dallas Stars back into the playoffs. A return to form by Ales Hemsky would go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.
Hemsky had a disappointing first season with the Stars in 2014-15, recording only 11 goals and 32 points in 76 games after signing a three-year, $12 million contract in July 2014. The 31-year-old has failed to score more than 14 goals in a campaign since reaching the 20-goal plateau for the second straight season in 2008-09.
Hemsky’s struggles last campaign can partly be attributed to a bad hip, which he addressed with offseason surgery. The Czech Republic native is working hard in his recovery and focusing on bouncing back from his subpar year.
“It’s been two months, maybe a little more, and I skated for the first time (Monday),” Hemsky told the Stars’ website. “It feels pretty good for two months, and we still have a long way to go, but I am on schedule, maybe ahead of schedule.
“My goal is to be ready for training camp.”
Injuries have hampered Hemsky ever since he signed a six-year, $24.60 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers in the summer of 2006. He missed 18 games the following season with shoulder injuries and sat out another 10 contests in 2008-09 with various ailments.
Hemsky required season-ending surgery on his left shoulder after being on the receiving end of a check by Los Angeles’ Michal Handzus one-quarter of the way into 2009-10. He was chosen to participate in the All-Star Game for the first time in his career in 2011, but was unable to play due to a concussion.
Another shoulder issue ended his 2010-11 campaign early and he missed the start of the following season due to a pair of surgical procedures. Hemsky sat out 10 more games in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign with ailments, but received a new lease on life when he was traded to the Ottawa Senators in March 2014.
He failed to come to an agreement on a new contract with the Senators and subsequently inked the deal with Dallas. Ironically, he signed with the Stars the same day they acquired center Jason Spezza, who was Hemsky’s linemate during his brief stay in Ottawa.
Hemsky is hoping the focus will move off of him and land on Dallas’ newcomers. Nill decided to bring some championship experience to the Lone Star State, obtaining two former Chicago Blackhawks in trades and another via free agency.
Patrick Sharp, who was acquired in a four-player deal on July 10, was a member of all three of Chicago’s Stanley Cup-winning teams over the last six years while defenseman Johnny Oduya, who signed a two-year contract five days later, won two titles with the Blackhawks. Dallas also obtained the rights to Antti Niemi, who became the first Finnish goaltender to win the Cup when he backstopped the team in 2010.
Hemsky is hoping a return to good health will help answer his recent offensive problems. And with the Stars putting together a roster they hope will contend for a championship, a solid contribution from him will seem like an added bonus for the team.