If there's someone who should be extra grateful for the summer trade that brought in the well-cheekboned Patrick Sharp, it just might be Ales Hemsky. After a training camp featuring talk of supernovas and unstoppable possession, no one embodied the thud with which Dallas began the season more than Hemsky. The right winger who scored 17 points in his 20 games with Jason Spezza in Ottawa could find absolutely no purchase in Dallas, putting up one assist and nothing else in his first 15 games and zero goals through 22 contests.
Coincidentally, Hemsky's poor early performance mirrored that of the team overall, who would wait until December 13th to kick things into high gear. Fresh off two healthy scratches in a row, Hemsky would tally an assist on 12/13/14, and go on to pot 25 points in his final 51 games, which was at least close to the 40+ point player the Stars thought they were signing.
Hemsky would ultimately finish with 11 goals and 21 assists in 76 GP, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Dallas went 15-5-5 in games when Hemsky had at least a point, and 23-23-5 when he was scoreless. In other words, Dallas was an 80-something point team when Hemsky didn't score and a 100-point team when he did, which was roughly the difference between the Flyers and the Islanders last year. That partially explains why Hemsky felt so frustrating, but only partially.
Here's the kicker: Hemsky ended the season with a pretty ugly scoring line, too. In fact, Hemsky scored only two goals in his final 26 games (both of them coming on 3/25 against Calgary, by the way) along with seven helpers. He also went pointless in his final eight games.
Or in numerical format:
First 26 GP: 2-6-8
Middle 24 GP: 7-8-15
Last 26 GP: 2-7-9
That's some high concentration in the middle and no mistake. Sure, you don't have to be Shelby Woo to realize that that scoring wingers can be streaky, but Hemsky almost did give the Stars a 20-game run like he had in Ottawa with Spezza. The only problem was that it both succeeded and preceded some significant dry spells as well.
Patrick Sharp wasn't a free agent this summer, but he arrived with even more of the heraldry that accompanied his predecessor (if only for a brief spell) on Seguin's right wing. This comes in spite of Sharp's down year last season that featured a one-point-in-15-games slog of its own. Sharp's 43 points last year were disappointing compared to his recent history, but the Stars would have been pleased as punch to have that total from Hemsky, so it's tough to demand all that much more from Sharp this year.
Dallas is hoping for Sharp to be his less-recent historical self this season, and if he stays healthy, I don't see any reason why he can't hit 50 or 60 points. If neither he nor Hemsky do manage to bounce back in their point totals though, you can bet that Hemsky won't be the one drawing the majority of frustrated snorts this time around. And while that's not the biggest of consolations, it at least means that Ales Hemsky will have a bit more space in which to be Ales Hemsky this season. That might be what he needs more than anything. It's just hockey, right?