It’s really a shame that some of Alexander Semin’s harshest critics in the hockey media don’t actually do too much work in the summer. Most of the stuff being written about Semin today is by columnists who like hockey enough to not take shots at a guy from behind a TV screen, respecting the things that Semin can do for a hockey team rather than what he can’t do.

He’s a polarizing player, one that sort of became a key player in the debate being modern and traditional analysis. I’m not going to go off and suggest that anybody ought to sign Semin to the deal that, say, Zach Parise earned. Signing any player past his 29-year old season doesn’t strike me as a wonderful idea and I like the one-year signing by the Carolina Hurricanes because it’s absolutely risk-free.

Semin doesn’t work out? You don’t have to have the internal discussion as a team of buying him out, you can simply cut ties in the summer. Say Parise doesn’t work out in Minnesota in that first year. It’s a long 2013 summer.

What’s a reasonable number of production to expect out of Semin? Well I’d figure he’s known primarily as a goal-scorer and a play-driver. I’d expect between 25 and 30 goals out of him in 72 games or so (he’s never played a full 82-game season). Play-driving ability is tougher to quantify when players change teams, but it will depend who he plays with. I’d expect his line mates to have better puck-possession stats than previous seasons.

But… smokes. Some of the things said about him and not Rick Nash when it comes down to risk. Nash makes more on a longer contract, has never been visible in the NHL playoffs, is older (actually, this isn’t true), and has declined in scoring every year since 2009. In the last three seasons, Nash has taken 21 more games to score six more goals.

For the record, Semin has 15 goals in 51 playoff games, which puts him at 29th in the NHL, tied with Michael Ryder and Ryan Getzlaf, over players who have played the same amount of games. He’s ahead of Mark Recchi, Ruslan Fedotenko, Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron.

Now, some people think that since Semin can be a Top 10 talent, I guess, or whatever, he should be higher. I think that Rick Nash ought to have eleven Stanley Cups by now, given what we heard of him coming out of junior and how much he’s dominated the airwaves when discussing star players in the NHL.

Nash has 1 goal in 4 playoff games—all losses—tying him for 140th over the span of games he’s played. Credit to him, he is tied with Adam Graves, but also Paul Kariya, Brandon Bollig and wimpy Swede Daniel Sedin.

Note: Using playoff stats to compare players is stupid because the sample is too small to make any informed, predictive analysis. Most people just use playoff stats when they need to find a number that agrees with their assessment. They’re unnecessarily reactive.

Marc Crawford:

“The difference is one guy has a tonne of character, one guy has no character. One guy scores 30 goals and doesn’t help his team one guy scores 25 goals and he helps them in every single way. He’s going to be banished to a place like Columbus or something else, and there’s where those guys do. They head to the island of misfit toys.

Detroit could probably bring him in and have that ability to surround him with Datsyuk. You’ve gotta have a really, really strong group. There’s an old NHL general manager who says you either take a guy that’s a complete winner or take a guy that’s a complete loser. He falls in that category, maybe they can change him, I don’t like, you don’t change people that much. I’d be cautious.”

Interestingly, Rick Nash scored 30 goals last year and his team was the worst in the NHL. Semin scored closer to 25 but was a play-driver and an excellent neutral zone player. You should banish those guys to play in an Island of Misfit Toys like Columbus, to play with other playoff misfits like Rick Nash.

Calling Nash a complete loser is a little over the line, however, but I think you’re cautious when you take on the contract of anybody making $7.8M for—gulp—the next six seasons.

Pierre McGuire:

“This is not a great teammate. I’m telling you right now. Not a good guy to have around your group unless you surround him with unbelievably strong leadership. And just rely on—he’s the ultimate coach killer. That’s what he is.”

[Crawford and McGuire quotes via TSN segment]

Nash has played for Dave King, Doug MacLean, Gerard Gallant, Gary Agnew, Ken Hitchcock, Claude Noel, Scott Arniel and Todd Richards.

Semin has played for Bruce Cassidy, Glen Hanlon, Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter.

Who is the coach killer?

For McGuire, unassuming, quiet, good hockey players kill coaches, but not 23-37-7 records, becoming “universally disrespected and disliked within [your] own organization” to the point that “other teams mocked” you.

Or maybe McGuire thought he was a terrific coach.

In the last three seasons, Rick Nash has made $22M, actual salary, not cap hit, and scored 95 goals. That’s 4.3 goals per million dollars spent. In the last three seasons, Alex Semin has made $17.7M and scored 89 goals, or 5 goals per million dollars spent.

I watch a lot of hockey, but I don’t necessarily get subjective analysis. I don’t know why certain players aren’t held up to the same standard as others when it comes to things like team performance and Stanley Cups.

Either way, it seems like Carolina doesn’t really care:

 

What, you mean that Carolina put more thought into this than Damien Cox did? I will make a bet with him that Semin scores more goals per million dollars spent over this one-year term than Nash does over the rest of his contract.

Comments (22)

  1. Damian cox is a hack of a journalist

    • derek, Very few aren’t. It has always been my opinion that the media has no business throwing in their own personal ideas or beliefs. This applies to not only sports, but all forms of reporting. Whatever it is that happens the media is slanted one way or the other. You can never just gets the facts. Lots of people believe whatever they hear and read and seem to have no minds of their own. Thus the Alex Semin garbage gets perpetuated, true or not. That said, some reporters and so-called analyists are more professional than others. Cox is many things and unprofessional as well.

  2. Cam, I wish you were Stoeten and wrote a “Book of Morons” entry filled with profanity about Cox, Crawford and McGuire. Arguing reasonably with facts is effective but if you add insults, it gets way more entertaining. Great post anyway.

  3. Arguing with Cox, McGuire and Crawford isn’t much of an argument – you’re guaranteed to win if you just manage to form coherent sentences.

    That said, I’ve been irked, to say the least, by the slanted coverage Semin and Nash have received this summer and this post summarizes the situation very well. Too bad nothing is going to change…

  4. Damien Cox is possibly the least knowledgeable hockey writer around, and has many axes to grind. I’m not sure anyone (least of all Semin) gives a crap what he says.

    I think it was a great signing by the Canes, and like you said, it was low-risk for a high-potential reward.

    • Northern Soul, I’m an Alex Semin fan. The N.H.L. needs more players like him and IMO has deteriorated away from skill and talent being a priority. Looking forward to watching the Canes. Hope they can get a defenseman or two. Anyway, I want to discuss the media. I agree with you about Cox but want to give you something to consider about not caring about what they say or write. IMO, the way that the media reports acquired FACTS is but shouldn’t be, biased and slanted. I believe that most people believe what they hear and read, take it on as their own and perpetuate it. This goes for sports, politics, or whatever the topic may be. Non-free thinking is a dangerous thing in our society. People often tend to run down opinionated people. However, I’d rather a country of citizens with opinions than one with sheep. It’s our responsibility to question, challenge and hold the media up to a standard of professionalism and honesty. They report the facts and we decide what we believe and how we should react. They should be held accountable when attempting to sway the way we should think. We are the ones to speak out provided with information if we choose, not the media. I would hold this true for documentaries as well which are in many cases even worse. Now in terms of A.S., one may say that surely G.M.’s don’t make up their minds whether or not to sign a player based on what boneheads like Cox, Crawford and McGuire say. True enough. But, the more I thought about it I realized that they did have a big negative impact on Semin’s career. The G.M.’s have to answer to their fan base which include many herds of those sheep. Since that unprecedented and unwarranted B.S. that dribbled out of the mouths of the T.S.N. panel on July 1st, one could not help but see the effects of it ever since. Everything to do with A.S. ever since has reeked with fragments of their bias to varying degrees. Does Alex Semin care? His agent did (whether or not you think he’s a good agent). Yes, I think he does care. Should he? Perhaps, depending on how you look at it. Maybe the exposure was a good thing. I don’t know for sure. However, if one believes that those imbiciles don’t have a certain amount of power one is sadly mistaken.

  5. This is a fantastic article. The NHL is a league that is guided by narrative. With no relevant information to go on – the media labels certain guys as leaders, certain guys as workhorses, others as enigmas, and worse still: locker room cancers. Its all BS.

    A 1 year deal is just about the lowest risk move the Hurricanes could make. He’ll be a HUGE benefit to a team that lacked high-talent. Anybody who doesn’t see this is being blinded by bias – whether their own or the media’s. This is not to say that Nash will be a flop – he’s a gifted player. But a contract with a cap hit of 7.8 until 2017-18 isn’t exactly friendly given how old he’ll be then. I love the move the Canes made and anyone who thinks this wasn’t well planned – is as you’ve pointed out – running desperately low on critical thinking skills.

  6. I agree with James P. How the russian Semin gets knocked on for his dropping goal totals on a team that he isn’t supposed to be the number one guy and the leader, but Nash gets looked at as though he is so great but doesn’t have the support to play with is stupid. Nash is over payed and under performs. Just because he’s a Canadian doesn’t hide this. Semen has had his goals drop off recently but he does other things well and I kind of get the impression that a lot of the attitudes in Washington weren’t great over the last year at least, but you can’t tell me that they were all Smiling in Columbus, especially after it came out that Nash wanted out….Semin has the better year and the Blue jackets got the better deal. Just my opinion

    • Mats and Kyle, Good posts and ageed. Alex Semin will be HUGE with the Canes and hopefully make the ignorant naysayers choke on their hate. Getting away from the Caps with a fresh start will IMO be the move that revitalizes him ( how he could even play as well as he has the last couple of years in the situation that he was used and forced into was a feat unto itself). Most other players would have removed themselves from that and told them to shove it. His career suffered badly I think but playing with those guys in Carolina should provide him with the opportunity to dazzle the fans with his skill and brilliance once again and prove that he is far and away one of the most gifted players in the N.H.L.. As an aside, I’d be willing to bet that if he didn’t engage in that slap fight with Staal that time, many fans would have a somewhat different opinion of him. The guy can’t fight and so bloody what? IMHO, I kind of see him as Roberto Luongo. One should be able to understand how a player’s game would suffer if his concentration level is hampered by being the constant scape goat. To me, I would think that anyone would be pissed off by continually being under the microscope. R.L. didn’t deserve that kind of treatment any more than A.S. did. Nash, while he probably won’t flop (I also believe that he is over-rated with a crazy contract, but still a good player), is being touted as the addition to the Rangers that GUARANTEES them all a ring and N.Y. etched on the Cup for 2012-13. I guess we will all see, but if it happens Nash will be another good contributor and Lundqvist will be as he has always been, the Ranger player that will be depended on. People say that one player can’t win alone and I agree, but if Henrik Lundqvist is on his game, he will be the guy that will take that team as far as they are going to go.

  7. I agree with most of the comments on here, and the article as a whole. Very well written and the lack of research by these so called “hockey insiders” is nothing short of shocking. Cox is above and beyond the worst, and I’m glad he doesn’t write for my Cities paper. It’s one thing to be opininated, but to have no basis for your statements is just downright wrong. I really don’t know how he has gained any support in sports journalism.. The only thing that makes any sense is due to his contreversial comments.

  8. “For the record, Semin has 15 goals in 51 playoff games, which puts him at 29th in the NHL, tied with Michael Ryder and Ryan Getzlaf, over players who have played the same amount of games. He’s ahead of Mark Recchi, Ruslan Fedotenko, Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron.”

    Does that mean he’s ahead of those players when they were at the 51-game mark?

  9. You could write an article every day that punches holes in the logic of the large group of boys club blowhards that comprise the NHL media. Nevertheless, this was still a job well done.

  10. Putting more thought into something than Damien Cox does isn’t really that difficult of an achievement.

  11. I have to say Im in some awe after reading this, so I thought I would offer my response to some of your statements Cam. I’ll start with this.

    “(Nash) has declined in scoring every year since 2009.”

    Isn’t this also true for Semin? In fact, without looking up the numbers, just based on watching the games, I would wager the production of many key players around the league has gone down the past few seasons because it has gotten harder to score goals and harder to put up points over that time as the NHL has become more tight-checking and defensive, and the officiating has gotten more relaxed.

    Your analysis, and I’ve heard this argument from many people, is that Nash’s production has declined each of the last three seasons, and therefore he is a player on the decline in terms of his abilities. However, everyone making this argument, yourself included, has forgotten to factor in the decline in goal scoring across the NHL over that time.

    Everyone making this argument has put it in black and white terms that Nash has gotten worse as a player and worse at producing offense, when it’s quite possible Nash has actually stayed the same while offense itself has gotten more difficult to produce in the NHL.

    That’s a missed variable in that analysis and missed variables lead to incorrect conclusions. You CANNOT miss variables like that because it renders the entire analysis false. Logical thinking and numerical analysis are the same as mathematical equations in that you make one miscalculation, get one number wrong, and you mess up the equation and come to the wrong answer.

    “Nash makes more on a longer contract, has never been visible in the NHL playoffs,”

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve brought up a year’s worth of stats to someone carrying the advanced stats torch in order to make a point, only to find myself on the receiving end of a retort claiming insufficient sample size.

    Yet here you are making sweeping statements about Nash, a somewhat misleading statement to those unfamiliar with the Blue Jackets’ playoff history I might add, based on four postseason games. Has Alex Semin not also gone four playoff games scoring only one goal or without being all that visible? (Not that Nash wasn’t visible, I don’t remember). I’m sure you’d agree to the latter and the former is probable (haven’t looked it up). Then by admission this is no argument.

    Another point to note, Semin got to play with a much better supporting cast than Nash. Nash would have a much better excuse for going pointless in four playoff games than Semin has for his bad streaks in the playoffs.

    But more to the point, looking at the stats now, I don’t see that Nash even needs any excuses. He put up 3 points in four playoff games, playing for an inferior Blue Jackets team against the stacked Red Wings, and he did it with a poor supporting cast.

    The sample size is definitely too small, but Nash did not just fine in his four games.

    “For the record, Semin has 15 goals in 51 playoff games, which puts him at 29th in the NHL, tied with Michael Ryder and Ryan Getzlaf, over players who have played the same amount of games.”

    Is this 29th all-time for players who have played 51 playoff games? Or 29th among current NHL players and Mark Recchi? I’m assuming the latter. Either way, it’s a bad stat because how many current players have played 51 playoff games? 51 is not a small number for playoff games. Did you intentionally leave out that number to make Semin’s numbers seem better? The way you’re supposed to cite that stat is “Semin is 29th in the NHL OUT OF ‘X’ TOTAL PLAYERS who have played 51 playoff games.” You left out the total.

    Also the way you expressed the stat makes it unclear whether you only counted players who “played the same amount of games”, meaning 51 exactly, or whether you meant 51 or more. I assume 51 or more but you did not specify.

    “Now, some people think that since Semin can be a Top 10 talent, I guess, or whatever, he should be higher. I think that Rick Nash ought to have eleven Stanley Cups by now, given what we heard of him coming out of junior and how much he’s dominated the airwaves when discussing star players in the NHL.”

    Here you draw a false equivalence between expectations based on current talent level (Semin) and a player’s reputation from close to a decade ago playing junior hockey. You act as if having expectations about a player right now, based on his talent level RIGHT NOW, is the same as judging a player right now compared to his expectations coming out of junior a decade ago. There is definitely a difference (about 10 years) which makes that an incorrectly drawn analogy.

    And more to the point, both are incorrect in terms of evaluating raw player-value on the ice. A player should be judged based on the impact he has on the ice, period, not by comparing that impact to personal expectations for the player.

    However, that’s player-value on the ice. There is another side to that coin which is what people are getting at with Semin. If a player has the talent to be top 10, for instance, but only performs at a top 50 level, for example, it’s reasonable for people to ask where the disconnect is, where the drop off is. When people observe a lesser impact than the talent level should suggest, it makes them question a player’s commitment. In other words, if you have the talent to be a top 10 player, then why aren’t you a top 10 player?

    It’s a legitimate question, although I think Semin’s overall talent, when you factor in size and physical strength, is slightly exaggerated, as are the criticisms aimed at him, and I believe those two factors combine to create the perceived disconnect between his talent level. and overall impact.

    Having said that, there’s also no question that there is a definite difference in battle level when watching a player like, say, Ryan Callahan, and watching Alex Semin. But part of that is playing style.

    And that’s about four separate factors I’ve just brought up in response to one single point, which should give you an idea that this is a complex and multi-faceted discussion, and by ignoring most of these factors in your analysis you have oversimplified it and in doing so come to some false conclusions.

    “Nash has 1 goal in 4 playoff games—all losses—tying him for 140th over the span of games he’s played. Credit to him, he is tied with Adam Graves, but also Paul Kariya, Brandon Bollig and wimpy Swede Daniel Sedin.”

    Another misleading and incomplete stat. You would get an “F” in statistics if you used these stats in a paper. Semin is 29th, Nash is 140th, therefore Semin is better. Except far more players have played four playoff games than have played 51, which is why you needed to post the complete stats, as I explained earlier. Semin is 29th out of how many who have played 51 or more games? Nash is 140th out of how many? You left those figures out seemingly intentionally again to…fool readers and make Semin seem better? That’s what it seems like. Percentiles should always have been used for this stat (If you were going to use it at all, which you shouldn’t have). I don’t know why you chose not to use percentiles.

    Unfortunately, even if you had posted the stats correctly, 4 games is far too small a sample size to come to any reliable conclusions on. You can’t use Nash’s playoff numbers in any analysis because the same size is too small.

    Additionally, even if he had played more games, comparing his raw numbers to Semin’s would still be poor analysis because Semin played those games for a very strong, sometimes powerhouse Capitals team, often alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, often playing a very offensive run-and-gun system pre-20010, while Rick Nash played for a defensively oriented team with very little help talent wise, no #1 center, and so on. These are more variables you forgot to account for.

    “Interestingly, Rick Nash scored 30 goals last year and his team was the worst in the NHL.”

    If you’re trying to say Nash did not make his teammates better because his team still finished last, that’s poor analysis as well. You seem to be assuming that a team can do no worse than 30th, when in fact Columbus could have finished 30th by an even greater margin had they not had Nash’s 30 goals. One player out of a 20-man roster will have a hard time making or breaking a given team. You seem to be forgetting all the other variables that could have, and I assure you did, contribute to Columbus finishing in last place that have nothing to do with Rick Nash. I encourage you to start by looking at their team-save-percentage and go from there.

    “Semin scored closer to 25 but was a play-driver and an excellent neutral zone player.”

    Come on, you should be embarrassed by that sentence. You’re better than that! With Nash, you quote his exact goal-total. But with Semin, no exact total is given. You state only that he scored “closer to 25″, when, in fact, the 21 goals Semin scored are actually much closer to 20 than 25.

    So Rick Nash scores 30% more goals than Semin in a season, which is a significant advantage, but instead of giving this one to Nash, you defend Semin by first skewing his goal total to make it look closer to Nash’s than it really was, and then state “but he was a play-driver and an excellent neutral zone player,” which suggests Nash wasn’t.

    And then you post no evidence to support these claims.

    “Nash has played for Dave King, Doug MacLean, Gerard Gallant, Gary Agnew, Ken Hitchcock, Claude Noel, Scott Arniel and Todd Richards.
    Semin has played for Bruce Cassidy, Glen Hanlon, Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter.
    Who is the coach killer?”

    I don’t want to keep being negative about your blog, but this is, again, poor analysis, false analysis, and false equivalency. You suggest whichever player has played under more coach-firings is the true coach-killer, yet you again forget to factor in very important variables.
    One, Rick Nash has played nine seasons in the NHL to only seven for Semin, which immediately makes it a false-comparison.

    Two, Nash has played on a poorly managed team with a low talent-level that has been a perennial bottom-feeder of the NHL really since Nash came into the league, and losing teams have, on average, far more coach-firings than successful teams. This more than anything renders your comparison useless.

    Three, coaches can be fired for a plethora of reasons. To attribute the firings of these coaches to Nash and Semin, respectively, as in Nash caused eight coaches to be fired while Semin only caused four to be fired, is ridiculous.

    Having said that, I have never heard anyone suggest Nash was to blame for any of his coaches being fired. The cause for ALL failings concerning the Blue Jackets on-ice results has always been the lack of talent around Nash.

    But with the Capitals and Semin, the opposite has been true. Many would argue that it has not been a lack of talent or star power in recent years that has caused to the Capitals to underachieve in the playoffs, but that it was the stars they did have, like Semin, who did not raise his game or perform up to his (top 10) talent level.

    And where I’ve never heard anyone suggest Nash was to blame for his coaches being fired, you will find plenty of people who suggest Semin had something to do with the problems in Washington and the eventually departure of Bruce Boudreau.

    Even so, this is no way to properly evaluate the players.

    “For McGuire, unassuming, quiet, good hockey players kill coaches, but not 23-37-7 records, becoming “universally disrespected and disliked within [your] own organization” to the point that “other teams mocked” you.”
    Or maybe McGuire thought he was a terrific coach.”

    This assumes that because someone was once bad at coaching in the NHL, which may or may not have involved poorly evaluating the talent and/or personalities of his own players, he cannot be make correct statements about NHL players now. Being wrong once about one thing does not mean you will always be wrong about every other thing, although your blog does make a pretty good argument for that being the case seeing as every single example you’ve come up with is problematic.”

    “In the last three seasons, Rick Nash has made $22M, actual salary, not cap hit, and scored 95 goals. That’s 4.3 goals per million dollars spent. In the last three seasons, Alex Semin has made $17.7M and scored 89 goals, or 5 goals per million dollars spent.”

    I see no rationale for using real salaries instead of cap-hits except that the results you get using their real salaries suit your pro-Semin argument much better. Nash’s cap-hit the last three seasons was 7.8 million in 2010-2011, and only 5.4 million the previous two seasons, which is why you used his real salaries of 7.5 million, 7 million, and 6.5 million, respectively, because they were higher. Statistical Analysis 101, if you let bias seep into your analysis, you will come to false-conclusions.

    But regardless of whether you use cap-hit or real salaries, past contract numbers are irrelevant to who is the better value NOW. You’ve used a completely irrelevant stat to skew the numbers. Rick Nash has scored 95 goals over the past three seasons, Alex Semin has scored 89. That’s the stat. Adding the salary figures over the past 3 seasons is irrelevant because the ratio of how many goals Semin scored at less than 6 million per year compared to how many Nash scored at 7.8 million per year is irrelevant when Semin is no longer making only 6 million per year.

    You would also do well to remember that goals-for are not everything when it comes to player value. They mean a lot but not everything.

    “I watch a lot of hockey, but I don’t necessarily get subjective analysis. I don’t know why certain players aren’t held up to the same standard as others when it comes to things like team performance and Stanley Cups.”

    I’ll tell you why subjective analysis is used in some cases such as this. Because effort, how much your teammates like you, and how much you care, those are things that cannot be quantified objectively, which leaves only subjective analysis. I’m not someone who puts as much weight into all that stuff as many hockey pundits, but I’m not an idiot, either. I know that you cannot objectively quantify the entirety of someone’s personality. Even personality tests administered by a psychologist could not objectively tell you everything, and good luck getting Semin to agree to one fo those.

    You quote Mike Sundheim, “Semin’s % rank among forwards, last 4 seasons even strength: Goals per 60 High Pressure situations: 99, 96, 99, 90.”

    What does he classify as high pressure situations? That’s another ridiculous and misleading statement. Semin has been a league-leader in even strength goals per 60 minutes the last 4 seasons, period, which means that as long as those goals are even somewhat evenly distributed throughout games, he is also going to be among the leaders in even strength goals per 60 when games are tied, when his team is leading by 1 goal, when his team is trailing by 1 goal, and so on, which is usually what these people mean when they make misleading statements about a player performing so well in “high pressure situations.” This statement makes it sound like he raises his goal output considerably during every game-seven of playoff series, when that’s not the case.

    “What, you mean that Carolina put more thought into this than Damien Cox did? I will make a bet with him that Semin scores more goals per million dollars spent over this one-year term than Nash does over the rest of his contract.”

    Alex Semin, age 28, and Rick Nash, also age 28, will both be playing in their prime years next season, and even the next couple seasons after that. However, the “rest of (Nash’s) contract” spans six more seasons, which means he will be 33 and 34 years in the last two seasons of his contract. Not far past his prime, and we shouldn’t expect a severe drop in his play at that point, but a subtle decline is quite possible.
    Therefore, your bet again Damien Cox is skewed as you have again forgotten to factor in this variable. You are comparing Semin’s goals-per-million stat over a single prime year of his career to Nash’s goals-per-million stat over a much longer span which includes years when Nash will not be at his prime. This is a false comparison and does not serve your point.

    Additionally, you have once again forgotten that goals are not everything. Anyone who watched the playoffs this past season instead of solely looking them up on a state sheet could tell you that the league is skewing towards a very physical and aggressive style of play where the best forecheck often wins out over a seven-game series. It is no coincidence that two extremely heavy teams in the Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings have won the last two Stanley Cups. These are two huge teams that play physical and win lots of board battles with their size.

    Which leads me to perhaps the most glaring oversight in your analysis. I am a fan of Alex Semin. I think he is a very good player because of his fantastic skill level. But that’s what he is, skill. I’m sure even you would agree that he is not a physical player, not a power forward, not someone who can carry your forecheck.

    He will score you highlight reel goals, he will do very well on the powerplay, he has the capacity to make his teammates better in open ice and bring them into the play with his skill, but one thing he won’t do is lead the forecheck.

    A few seasons ago, when the referees were calling the game much tighter, and there was more room in open ice, he was an absolute star, one of the top players you would want on your team in the NHL.

    But now, the way the game is skewing, it is Rick Nash who has the package that fits with the style teams are currently using to win Cups and have success. All that slick skill Semin has, Nash has, too, but unlike Semin, Nash also adds a huge six-foot four-inch frame on top of that skill.

    You have made this whole article about goals, but Nash easily matches Semin in goal production, having scored 30 or more goals in five straight seasons, and scoring 95 goals over the past three seasons to Semin’s 89. And as long as Nash matches Semin in goals, he’s easily the better value because he bests him elsewhere.

    So while skill and goals are supposed to be Semin’s one advantage, in reality they are not. Nash is just as good a scorer as Semin, if not better in the current tight-checking NHL that punishes players like Semin, and Nash adds all those invaluable power-forward elements on top of that.

    When it comes to establishing that all-important forecheck in the playoffs, controlling possession and wearing the other team down, Nash will aid his team considerably in that regard much more than Semin. That’s a huge factor and I’m not sure how you didn’t think about that before writing this blog.

    See, this is my problem with all this “advanced” numerical analysis. There are so many different stats and numbers (not that you really used any of them), and while all are useful on their own terms, it seems every time someone actually tries to come to a rock solid conclusion based on the stats, they always forget to factor in one variable or another which misleads their conclusion, probably because there are so many factors and numbers, and most the people who have latched on to this “advanced stats movement” aren’t exactly expert statisticians themselves no matter how badly they want to believe that they are based on the fact they use words like “variance” a lot now.

    These bloggers seem to get lost in the numbers, or maybe they lack the dynamic reasoning ability required to see all the variables before coming to the wrong conclusion. You didn’t necessarily use any advanced stats, but you did make many errors in reasoning, which resulted in false equivalencies and false analysis, I’m sorry to say.

    • ” If a player has the talent to be top 10, for instance, but only performs at a top 50 level, for example, it’s reasonable for people to ask where the disconnect is, where the drop off is. When people observe a lesser impact than the talent level should suggest, it makes them question a player’s commitment. In other words, if you have the talent to be a top 10 player, then why aren’t you a top 10 player?”

      This is exactly the core of the ridiculousness of the arguments around Semin: a) how the hell do you know what someone’s objective talent is, and b) criticising a top-50 player for not being a top-10 player is incoherent. If you’re looking at two players, a top-50 player and a top-100 player, the idea that you take the top-100 player because he’s playing to potential but you turn up your nose at the top-50 player because you think he’s playing below his potential is … how can I put this. As dumb as rocks.

      • If anything, surely the smart thing to do is take the top-50 guy and see if you can figure out what makes him tick into a top-10 guy!!! I cannot see how anyone can type a sentence that describes this thought process, as you just did, as “reasonable”.

  12. Sasha, you could have saved a lot of typing by realizing that Cam made no attempt to do a proper comparision of the 2 players. All he was attempting was to show how the same type of lazy arguments used by pundits could just as easily be applied to Nash.

  13. To begin with, I am a fan of Alex Semin. I appreciate his skill and talent and consider him to be one of the top elite players in the league. I have written extensively on this topic and am frankly tired of doing so, so my post will not be IMO this or that supported by this or that. To me, with any player analysis, anyone’s opinion and technique is as valid as the next and should be read with the intent of learning whether you agree or not and not lead to argument and name calling. If someone posts something obviously ridiculous the prudent response is a private shake of the head and no follow-up response at all. Much has and can be voiced regarding A.S. using many different types of analysis. All valid and to each their own. EXCEPT, and this is where I draw the line. PERSONAL ATTACKS. What the, and I’m trying to be kind here tho they don’t deserve it, blank blanks at T.S.N. said about Alex Semin was totally uncalled for, completely …………., (take your pick), and incredibly unprofessional. An apology in the very least was in order. In terms of analysing a players play it added zero to the conversation and zero to a deeper understanding of it . Now, (shake your head if you like) IMHO, a large part of the problem of A.S.’s play was Ovi and the Capital’s organization (eg. the way he was used, etc. which was cleverly orchestrated to lead to him being the scape goat for the fans. He was an easy target). Please leave personal attacks and bias out of any kind of intelligent conversation of player discussion. It is utterly irrelevant.

  14. The Canadian hockey press loves the Canadian Nash over the Russian Semin.

    It’s just natrionalism, folks.

    • Chuck, I sometimes wonder if it is just true nationalism or a bias toward non-North American players. Russians in particular. I hope you’re right but if you remember when the European players began to play in the N.H.L. Cherry and others had many choice names for them, those names seem to have persisted. If you follow hockey closely there are many examples and the contracts awarded to the North American players are out of wack with those of the Europeans. Regardless, do you think that any member of the press would go on a rant about any North American player like Crawford and McGuirre did about Semin without a big fall-out? I don’t. IMO, the N.H.L. has not evolved. Pure skill and talent seem to be secondary. Again, I hope you are right and I’m wrong about this but the way that I see it, those Neanderthals are in no way extinct in the N.H.L..

  15. Just found a site on the web that contained an interview of Marc the —————- Crawford by some German outfit. **WARNING** There is a pic of him. Guy makes me sick to look at. Anyhow, when asked about his comments about Alex Semin there was no apology of course but he claimed that he was MISUNDERSTOOD! What? How the hell can he have been misunderstood? He is stupid and very, very arrogant. And he thinks we are all stupid it’s clear. What a ———— S.O.B.. Regardless of what he thinks, for those of you that are interested and are not familiar with his past, there is alot on the web about him. Todd Bertuzzi and lawsuits, you tube vid of his smirking, smug face when Moore lost his hockey career, involvement in other serious injuries, etc., etc.. Zero responsibility and passing the buck. It all provides good insight into what and who this creep is. It’s worth checking out IMO.

  16. I was in a rush when I posted my last comment and obviously pissed off. Calmer now – a little anyway. So, turns out Crawford ( find it hard not to use offensive language and call him nasty names). Control, control. Just can’t stand these kind of people. O.K. so, turns out he is a career killer. Well we knew that. But, if you look at what I suggested if you’re not already aware of it, you will see how he destroyed the careers of several guys in the hockey world and has, like I said, not accepted one iota of responsibility. He has wiggled out of it all like the worm he is. He has placed the blame on others and the powers that be within the hockey world have allowed it to happen. A solid member of the corrupt old boys club. He continues to get employed when he should have been canned long ago. Don’t tell me they don’t exist, lurking in the wide open. We fans are fools, at least speaking for myself, I am. I will vow right now to not give another dime to the N.H.L. that permits this kind of crap. He is an evil little man who has some power. O.K. I’ll stop ranting now. How did I get so invested emotionally in this? It really means nothing to my life. I suppose that I am just the kind of person who hates to see injustice and am helpless to do anything about it. Good Lord, how I hope Semin has a great season and makes them choke on their words. That’s all.

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