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.