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NHL Rumors: Is Alexander Semin Really An Option for the Pittsburgh Penguins?

Over the past several weeks since NHL free agency began on July 1, there have been numerous NHL rumors about a few top-name players who the Pittsburgh Penguins could possibly be interested in. Even after acquiring offensive talents like Brandon Sutter and Tanner Glass, the team is still lacking a reliable top-six winger. 

Last week, talk of the Penguins being interested in Phoenix Coyotes captain, Shane Doan, began heating up; and although Doan may still be in play, this week the rumors are just beginning to stir regarding Washington Capitals winger, Alexander Semin.

More specifically, rumors revolving around Semin and a one-year deal with the Penguins have surfaced as of late.  It was once thought, earlier in the off-season, that Semin was most interested in heading back to his native Russia to play for the KHL; however, more recent reports have indicated an interest in remaining to play in the NHL.

But I believe Semin’s positive qualities do not outweigh the risk involved in the type of player he is not only on the ice, but off the ice as well.  When head coach Dan Bylsma was recently asked about Semin, his answer was more of a testament to the winger’s scoring talent rather than a clear indication of Pittsburgh’s interest in him to be part of the team by stating Semin’s goal-scoring ability makes him a dangerous player.

Semin is pretty much an inconsistent goal-scorer even though his overall stats dictate somewhat more of a consistency.  This past season was his worst tallying the lowest number of goals since his NHL career began (21); and although it wasn’t his lowest plus/minus of his career, he still recorded a meager +9.  His 2009-10 season, by far, has been his most successful to date with a total of 84 points marking the year (40 of which came in the form of goals) and a plus/minus of +36.

Unless Semin can somehow reclaim his 2009-10 season with more consistency, overall he is not the caliber of player in terms of both his character and his play that is typically associated with the Penguins organization.  He has a reputation for having a bad attitude, questionable work ethic, and inconsistent play.  But could removing him from the influence of Alexander Ovechkin and placing him with a more positive influence like fellow Russian-born player, Evgeni Malkin, play a role in this factor?  It’s very possible and one that makes acquiring Semin a little interesting.  Given the quality of talent and character that you can surround him with in Pittsburgh, would there be more motivation to elevate his game and return to the player he’s capable of being just as in his most successful season with the Capitals?

The length of the contract can also be a major factor between Semin being a good or a bad fit for Pittsburgh.  If it’s true that the deal the Penguins would / have offer(ed) Semin is limited to only one year then the consequences are short term and there wouldn’t be much of a risk involved.  This pick-up could easily pay off for the Penguins. 

On the surface, this may appear to be a highly unlikely choice for a new piece of the Penguins puzzle and one that many Penguins fans may not favor (especially considering how Semin bad-mouthed Sidney Crosby only a few short post-seasons ago).  However, seriously considering some of these factors may make it a bit more appealing especially if it’s only for one season.  And if nothing else, the possibilities do make this an interesting option that would be entertaining to watch play out during Pittsburgh’s upcoming season.

Stephanie Lewark is a featured Pittsburgh Penguins columnist for RantSports.com. If you enjoy her articles / posts, you can follow her on Twitter (@steelcitysports), check out her personal Facebook page (via Networked Blogs), visit her personal Tumblr page, or stop by her Pinterest page.