Often overshadowed by the other Russian Alex on the team and dogged by criticism of his performance, Alexander Semin may decide that the Washington Capitals are no longer the right place for him.
Capitals general manager George McPhee isn’t willing to discuss too many details about his club’s planned offseason signings. He wouldn’t say for certain if he planned to look for another free agent or if Semin could eventually just decide to remain part of the team. Perhaps McPhee’s lack of obvious passion about working to retain Semin speaks louder than his cagey, somewhat guarded quotes on the matter.
There is some interest in taking Semin out of the nation’s capital, though. Both parties that were involved in the blockbuster draft-night trade of Jordan Staal–the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes–have expressed interest in adding Semin to their rosters.
“We would look at Semin on a short-term basis,” Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said.
Semin is looking for a two-year deal worth about $10 million or so. However, he may find that he’ll need to settle for less if he wants to make a move–perhaps a one-year deal to see if he’s a good fit.
The Penguins and Capitals are nearly neck-and-neck in terms of money they have the ability to spend: Pittsburgh has about $10 million and Washington $10.5 million, according to Cap Geek. It’s Carolina that may be more willing to grant Semin’s wish as is because they have about $21 million left in their coffers. However, there is something to be said about the potential opportunity for him to play alongside Sidney Crosby or fellow countryman Evgeni Malkin, a bonus that only Pittsburgh can offer.
Other potential new homes for Semin include the Detroit Red Wings, the San Jose Sharks (a seemingly perennial potential team in many of these NHL rumors) and the New Jersey Devils. All have holes on their lineups to fill, many because of departures and signings in this offseason.
Semin, a first-round pick by the Capitals in 2002, has never played for any other NHL team. His best season in terms of points came in 2009-10, when he put up 84 points in 73 games. After that, his production dropped, and he’s had two seasons in a row of 54 point outputs.
Still, 54 points isn’t terrible, although he may need to seek the aid of a team psychologist to improve his perception as being someone who isn’t motivated, isn’t a good team player and struggles to meet the demands of high-stakes games.
Rutherford knows about Semin’s reputation, though he does like his skill level, so he may be willing to put him on a one-year deal, get to know him, get a feel for him and decide on further deals from there. The other potential new homes named above all offer Semin a chance to grow and reshape himself into a better player under the tutelage of veteran teammates, no-nonsense coaches and, in many cases, proven championship-winning abilities (save for San Jose, the only team on this shortlist without any Stanley Cups).
Eighteen days ago, when free agency opened, Semin was considered a pretty interesting addition to the market. Now that other big fish like Zach Parise are already taken, he may still be an ideal pickup for a team with needs to be filled and the will to help him work on his weaknesses.
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