Perusing the NHL’s news of the day would have you believe a few things. First, the labor negotiations are ‘productive’ right now. Second, nobody knows what to expect from the Minnesota Wild. Third, all of the big name free agents are off the board.

The funny thing is, the third part — and likely the first — of that isn’t true. At all.

Enter Alexander Semin.

It would be magnificent if Alex Semin had a non-offensive nickname that didn’t make teenage boys giggle, but he doesn’t. They’re all very, very rude. If we’re submitting new PG calibre nicknames, ‘The Enigma’ may be the most meaningful. The man is a riddle, and that’s where we stand going into the foreseeable future.

The incredibly frustrating part of the Krasnojarsk Riddle is his supreme talent. Alexander Semin is easily one of the top wingers in hockey on pure ability. He can score goals with the best in the league. He should be the best available UFA this year, but he’s not, because of a reputation he can’t shake.

The Semin bashing has hit the peak of its ridiculousness as Jim Rutherford spoke to the media regarding the possibility of Semin joining the Carolina Hurricanes among other possible personnel targets.

Semin, 28, has the offensive explosiveness the Canes covet, but the enigmatic Russian has been questioned about his effort, consistency and attitude. Rutherford said the Canes could consider offering Semin a one-year contract.

“We would look at Semin on a short-term basis,” he said. “We wouldn’t want to get locked in to anything, because we’ve all heard the stories about him. We do like his skill level. It could be that we could bring him in for a year, get to know him and go from there in terms of considering something longer term.”

The Carolina Hurricanes, for those keeping track at home, have missed the playoffs three years in a row. Their last elite, veteran winger (Jeff Skinner is not a veteran) was Ray Whitney who left the team after the 2009-10 season. Eric Staal has plateaued at 70 points a season, Jordan Staal has been brought in to alleviate some pressure off of his brother and Skinner when healthy — which is a big question mark with his head injuries — should provide another elite scoring option. There’s the extent of Carolina’s impact offense.

Really, is this Hurricanes team one that can actively turn down former 40 goal scorers? Has the Semin character assassination come this far?

Semin’s alleged personality problems are pronounced. His work ethic has been questioned repeatedly, he has been accused of undermining coaches, he slacks off on defense. Pierre McGuire may or may not have had time to take a breath during the public floggings he leads any time he has a microphone near his face.

Considering the immense upside Semin possesses, this player could very well be someone capable of propelling the Staals, Skinners and even Jussi Jokinens of the world beyond their current production levels. The Hurricanes finished the 2011-12 season as the sixth worst team in the NHL for goal differential at -30. If you plug Semin into that lineup the margin diminishes considerably.

Alex Semin is two years removed from a 40 goal season, and topped the 20 goal mark in the two years since then despite playing in an offensively stifling system. During the Capitals longest playoff run during his time there (2008-09), and the last in a free flowing system, he produced 14 points in 14 games. He’s not a bad player. Hell, he has two less points than Zach Parise in 31 less career games. Who should the real prize be up front among forwards?

If NHL coaches, let alone former players like Hurricanes Kirk Muller, are remotely afraid of his ‘coach killer’ reputation, maybe it’s time to wonder what makes you qualified to drive the car.

Someone please, for the love of God, sign Alex Semin. It would help us all return to sanity.

Comments (43)

  1. I totally agree! I would love to see this guy in a Canucks uniform, it’s going to make me sick when he signs with Detroit and goes on to score 35 goals and 65 points. The Canucks are in desperate need of a legitamate scorer and this guy could slot in with the Sedins or Kesler and be a very dangerous weapon where he is a complimentary piece. Please Gillis, I hope you are actually in on this guy, Doan’s not leaving Phoenix, get over that dream!

  2. Talent isn’t the issue for Semin. One has to wonder if he is the cause of, or will thrive when removed from the cancerous Washington locker-room…

  3. Eh, I don’t know. Lot of Capitals took public shots at this guy on the way out the door. That’s sooooo rare in hockey that there has to be some fire there. And if he’s really not doing the off-ice training he’s supposed to be (while pissing off his teammates in the room), you should be expecting his numbers to fall from here on in, not go back up.

    I mean, the Capitals should know him better than anyone. One assumes there’s a reason they didn’t trust this guy with anything but 1 year deals.

    • Actually if people would stop believing what they hear and assuming and actually research before they would realize the Caps wanted to sign him to a multi year deal last year but he asked for a one year deal which the Caps obliged

  4. I would love to see him in a Sens uniform as well, but then I remember Kovalev and I’m not so sure anymore.

    Kovalev, when he cared to try, would dominate the game. The big mystery was when he’d show up? For a veteran, he put up a solid stat line by the end of his tenure in Ottawa, but if we could have seen the same effort night in and night out, heck, even 2 out of 3, we’d have been happy!

    Enter Semin. Not having seen a lot of Washington, it’s hard for me personally to assess his work ethic on the ice. But if one of your star players doesn’t put the proper work into his craft, the mentality can spread to the rest of your team like a poison then cause division in the locker room.

    With that said, I believe that Ottawa has the leadership necessary to help Semin if Alfie sticks around for another year.

    Have we heard anything at all about what Semin is looking for in terms of dollars and years?

  5. If you’d do your own research, according to Mark Gandler, the Capitals never offered to play him 16 minutes a night for the type of money a 16 minute a night player makes, which is even more of an indictment than all the 1 and 2 year deals at star player money they had been giving him.

  6. I actually think those comments were fine and a prudent course of action (one year, make sure he fits in…not like other NHL teams are giving him term), but yeah, the Caps will miss him more than they realize unless Johansson gets a lot stronger this summer.

  7. How big is his cap hit?
    It may sound crazy, but the Bruins might be an excellent fit. We need some more scoring punch and the leadership of the team is so deep that I don’t think he will be allowed to be a cancer or lazy.
    I also think Semin showed a lot this playoffs. He was waaay more impactful that Ovie, and he played hard in Hunter’s system. My gut on this guys is that he wants to win and that he may have been unfairly labelled.
    If he is $4-5M a year then he is a steal (and remember that Bruins have Savard on the books that they can easily move off, and can also trade Thomas for a bag of pucks to move his cap space)

    • His salary with the Caps last season was $6.7M.

      Semin is a tremendous talent that is indeed unfairly labeled because people don’t bother to watch him play and just listen to the nonsense commentators spew about him.

      I have been a huge fan of his since he came to the Capitals and I don’t understand or see where his teammates don’t like him. He’s always cutting up with them at practice and having a good time. I don’t see that as a cancer in the locker room.

      I think that people might start to see what Semin is actually about when he’s on another team and not hidden behind the talents of Ovechkin & Backstrom.

      • on the contrary, EL28. I have watched him play – my estimation is about 240+ times over the last 4 years. No denying his talent – saw him score a goal against Carolina on a wrist shot from about 40 feet….from his knees! Players of average or even above average ability simply cannot do that. This guy has world class ability. What he doesn’t have is motivation and dedication – to his team, to his sport, or really even to himself. Had he the commitment to being the best – all the time, there’s no question in my mind he could be. After so many years, the Caps are finally tired of waiting for a commitment – a level of commitment needed for the team to win championships, to manifest itself in Alexander Semin. Every year I go into it thinking that this is the year he’ll prove me wrong, and bring a level of commitment parallel to the level of talent he possesses. Every year, around mid-May, I look back and realize I was only kidding myself.

        • So Semin has bad nights because he doesn’t try. Other players have bad nights because they lack skill or mobility. Why is work ethic a bigger red flag? All these guys have been playing hockey for over ten years. They’ve all had lazy teammates. Hasn’t seemed to affect them to this point.

  8. As a big caps fan i’ve been watching semin since he started in the nhl and his reputation is totally undeserved. He’s had a few bad moments but he worked diligently to improve his defensive game to fit into Hunter’s system and has become a more solid overall player than he was when he was scoring 40+ goals in the run and gun. The coach killer label is completely ignorant. Semin never criticizes any of the staff publicly. He get’s blamed for not showing enough emotion but that’s just the way he is as a person- he’s been playing good defense, blocking shots, and getting as physical in the corners when he needs to.

    He is inconsistent, it’s a flaw that I doubt will change but his numbers are still good and he’s still a player you want out there. I’d like to see the caps resign him for $4.5 – $5 per season.

    • Dave, curiously, do Matt Bradley and Dave Steckel strike you as they type of people who would blast a former teammate for personal satisfaction? yeah…Me neither.

      • Arnott also said Semin got slapped with criticism relatively quickly.

        It’s interesting to me how this all can turn people off of a player who is a giant net positive for his team.

  9. I would love to see Semin in a Pens sweater. Then he could play on Sid’s wing, and we would all have the pleasure of watching Pierre’s head explode.

  10. The fact that he’s still out there, and that there are teams that could obvious use him, indicates that perhaps he’s asking for too much. Immediately after the Parise announcement, speculation immediately started that Lou’s “Plan B” was Semin, however it hasn’t come to anything.

    He probably doesn’t want to take a pay cut. He’ll probably have to. Or he’ll go to the KHL. There’s always that.

  11. The issue is simply what other teams offer. All comments/rumors to date indicate that he’s open to returning to the Caps, and the Caps are willing to take him back. It’s just that he’s playing the UFA market first.

    He’ll stay a cap if no one offers him 6 million a year (which judging from the comments/hype prolly aint gonna happen). Commentators correctly say many teams would like to have him for between 4 and 5, but the Caps would match that, and he benefits from playing with his friends and under a super offense minded coach in Adam Oates

    So the article kind of has it right, for the wrong reasons. There’s no Semin news because no one will overpay for him on the back of a 20 goal season and he stays a cap

    • Well, I mean, his agent says he’s not interested in going back to the Capitals, so there’s always, you know, the guy who’s job it is to know that sort of thing to disagree with you.

  12. There is ZERO chance Semin signs with an NHL team that doesn’t employ Ovechkin. First, he’s not worth $6M for ONE year much less a rasie from $6.7M for multiple years. Next, he can EASILY make $6.7M US for multiple years simply going to Russia. Last, anybody who thinks this guy wants to go to a NEW North American city, with all the pressure of being the big free agent signed in the off season, and be on his own (without Ovechkin) is crazy.

    He signs in DC for $4M or he goes to Russia. Period.

  13. Pierre McGuire is anti-Semintic.

  14. While I’m sure there is basis in some of these assessments, I don’t see how a guy who is +82 in the last 4 years “slacks off on defense.” I hope his name keeps getting dragged through the mud and the Devils sign him for below what he’s worth. Him and Kovy could dominate.

    • It would be nice to see him playing for the devils but unless you’re just joking, that would hardly be fair to Semin.

  15. Semin’s been a pretty impressive Corsi/Fenwich plus player for most of his career. He’s played great when given the opportunity to play shorthanded.

    I’m honestly perplexed by him. The metrics say he’s massively under-rated if anything, given how dominant he is at tilting the ice favorably. My eyes have seen the guy consistently make absurdly accurate passes to guys like Brooks Laich that if they went to a decent finisher would give him another 15 assists/season. Yet, the Caps seem to have no love for the guy, so there’s got to be some problem, right?

  16. What good is a goal scorer if he purposely throws off come the playoffs to play for Russia’s Gold medal chances? Lotta talent and money out the window when you need him most.

    • Where did that come from? That’s you’re opinion and you are entitled to have it however, to me it’s ridiculous. In the playoffs guys like Semin are covered greatly and sometimes even double-teamed if the other team thinks they need to. Malkin didn’t do well in the playoffs this year but I seriously doubt it had anything to do with the Worlds.

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