How’d that work out? At first, it didn’t. Semin’s output was nearly pedestrian and he spent a fair amount of time skating in the minus. Even matching him up with superstar Eric Staal on the top line didn’t return immediate dividends. In the ‘what have you done for me lately?’ world of the NHL, this is barely tolerable — let alone acceptable.
Five years for $35 million should buy a heck of a lot more than what Semin was putting out. It wasn’t until very recently that this fellow they call ‘Sasha’ decided to wake up and be the player he’s being paid to be.
After Jeff Skinner started his campaign of being awesome, it seemed Semin wanted in on that action, which is very welcome. For years, Hurricanes fans watched Semin tear Cam Ward up every time they played Washington. His sniper antics were reviled in Carolina, but that is exactly why Carolina GM and professional fiasco Jim Rutherford jumped at the chance to sign him.
After Carolina’s comeback win against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, Semin was skating at a plus-4 and shooting a respectable 10.3 percent. This is good, but is also to be expected as Semin averages 19:44 minutes of ice time per game. A guy averaging 24.6 shifts a game simply needs to be pulling more weight than others.
The recent awakening of Semin isn’t only welcome — it’s to be expected. Praise should absolutely be piled onto him, but at the same time, Semin needs to be asked where this has been the whole time. As magnificent as his play has been so far in January, it needed to be happening a heck of a lot sooner than now. Semin can’t change the past, but maintaining this output for the future is job no. 1 for him.