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Ales Hemsky will be back for Oilers vs. Sabres tonight


James O’Brien

When people discuss the Edmonton Oilers, they tend to focus on the team’s youngest scorers from Taylor Hall to Jordan Eberle and Linus Omark. There’s good reason for that, too, as the team’s rebuilding process is showing some solid promise.

One thing people tend to forget is that they’ve been playing most of the last two seasons without Ales Hemsky, a prime-age playmaker who might just be the team’s best player. His career numbers indicate that he might be a stride or two short of elite status, but on some level, we haven’t been able to find out because of increasing injury issues with each year.

However you classify Hemsky, he’s an impact player when manages to play. After being without their best passer for 10 games with a strained groin, it sounds like Hemsky will be back for tonight’s game against Buffalo.

Hemsky, 27, out since Dec. 1, should add some pop to an Edmonton attack that’s managed just 89 goals in 34 games, which ranks 13th in the Western Conference. Hemsky has scored 7 goals and 18 points in the 21 games he’s played this season.

“It’s always hard to watch the games and not play,” Hemsky said. “You always want to help the team some way. You always want to be the guy. That’s why you play hockey, you know?”

Hemsky will make his return playing right wing on a line with Andrew Cogliano and Dustin Penner and will take his spot on the first unit of Edmonton’s power play.