SUN Hockey Pool

Gushing praise

STEVE MacFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

EDMONTON -- The consensus is young, skilled forwards will benefit the most from the way the game of NHL hockey is going to be played this season.

That leads to a long list of names when talking about breakout candidates and Edmonton Oilers winger Ales Hemsky is one of them.

The Calgary Flames had yet to see the Czech Republic product in pre-season action heading into last night's game at Rexall Place but goaltending guru David Marcoux knew what to expect.

"It might be a great year for him," said Marcoux of Hemsky, who had a goal and an assist in last night's 4-0 Oilers victory.

"Hopefully he won't have too many great nights against Calgary."

Marcoux, as a coach in Hull, Que., saw firsthand the kinds of things Hemsky is capable of with the QMJHL's Olympiques in 2001.

"The precision that he has, the accuracy that he has in his shot. Everything seems so easy, so natural," said Marcoux.

"One on one, he would beat junior players with little moves between the feet and just little head fakes. He scored a lot of goals for us."

During the lockout, Hemsky went back to his hometown of Pardubice and played with HC Moeller, who he led to an Extraleague championship. Hemsky earned MVP honours.

"It was a great year but I'm excited to play here again," said Hemsky.

Oilers coach Craig MacTavish has set the bar high when it comes to Hemsky.

"He's got great skill and we have high expectations for him," MacTavish said.

"So far, he's delivered."


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