The NHL is only one week into free agency and it’s already time for the Hurricanes to shift to plan C. But at the same time, Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson needs to learn to take the Hurricanes organization seriously.
Talks between the Canes and Columbus Blue Jackets were finally smothered after Jim Rutherford heard Howson’s asking price for Rick Nash. Carolina’s two untouchable up-and-comers are Jeff Skinner and Justin Faulk, but Howson would not accept a trade unless Skinner would be sent to Columbus. That’s a laughable asking price for a winger who would cost the Canes $7.8 million for each of the next six season. Nash only scored 30 goals last season and Skinner was on track for 26 goals if it weren’t for injuries. By the way, Nash is eight years older than the 2010 Calder Memorial Trophy Winner.
Trading for Jordan Staal on draft night and re-signing him to a 10 year contract was a big addition, but the Hurricanes are still in need of a scoring wing who could possibly play alongside the Staals on the top line. Carolina still remembers July 1st when highly touted free agent Zach Parise officially dropped Carolina as his potential new home and he went on to sign a 13 year, $98 million contract with the Minnesota Wild. Rutherford was not afraid to pull out the check book, but that did not help persuade Parise from signing with his hometown team.
*Cross off Plan A on July 4th*
Not a problem, though. The Nash talks re-opened the Parise signed with Minnesota. Rutherford was planning on shopping Drayson Bowman, Zac Dalpe, Zach Boychuk and Andreas Nodl in a package deal with others. Not Jeff Skinner.
*Cross off Plan B on July 6th*
The next scoring forward on the market who has garnered some interest from the Canes recently is unrestricted free agent Alexander Semin. He did not have a lot of offers at the beginning of free agency because it seemed like half the league was trying to get their money in on the Parise sweepstakes and Semin was asking for too many years and money on his c0ntract.
“We would look at Semin on a short-term basis,” Rutherford told the Raleigh News and Observer. “We wouldn’t want to get locked in to anything, because we’ve all heard the stories about him.”
TSN talked about Semin and the term “ultimate coach killer” was mentioned during a panel conversation. Semin has had his share of mistakes in the NHL and he is known for losing focus on the ice and taking unnecessary penalties. Still, the Russian could be a huge asset on the top lines in Raleigh if he can control his emotions and avoid locker room drama.
“We do like his skill level,” Rutherford added. “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 Canes are smart to approach this free agent cautiously. He put up 54 points last season in Washington, he has a quick wrist shot and offensive mind that could compliment his line mates nicely. He has told his agent that he is interested in playing more minutes and on the penalty kill.
Semin is well worth the risk as the Hurricane’s fourth option heading into the off-season. Let operation plan C begin.