Rival Signing Semin Stings
By Stephen London
Since Washington drafted him in 2002 with the 13th overall pick, Alex "Sasha" Semin has been a staple of the Capitals' offense. Despite having yet to play a full 82-game season, Semin seemed to prove his worth on the scorecard, scoring 408 points during 469 career games for the Caps (197 goals, 211 assists). The Capitals had an interesting decision to make this offseason, as Semin became a free agent July 1.
Semin flourished during the 2009-10 campaign, scoring 40 goals and 44 assists during just 73 games. The Russian right winger even had a plus/minus of +36 during Bruce Boudreau's first season as head coach. But after the first season under Boudreau, Semin saw a drop-off during the following two seasons, scoring 28 goals during 65 games during the 2010-11 season and 21 goals during 77 games last season.
The former first-round pick has had a few flaws to his game. Semin averages almost one point per game during the regular season. But one of the main concerns with the 6-foot forward is his lack of production during the playoffs. During 51 playoff games, Semin has scored only 15 goals and 19 assists (34 points). Semin was among the Capitals' leaders in penalty minutes this past season, with 10.
Not only have Semin's stats kept dwindling since the 2009-10 season, he also has a reputation for not backchecking consistently, not willing to battle for a puck in the corner, and for committing penalties such as hooking and tripping. Most teams looking to sign Semin would have given him a short-term contract, but he still has a significant price tag.
The Carolina Hurricanes signed Semin to a one-year contract worth $7 million. Perhaps the Capitals were not willing to offer Semin that high of a salary, but Semin has hinted since the end of the season that he would not be returning to the nation's capital. Instead, he signed with one of the Capitals' divisional rivals.
Semin, an athlete who seemed to lack motivation, could have just found it in playing his old team six times per year. The Hurricanes have equipped their roster with key pieces during the offseason, acquiring Jordan Staal from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On the Hurricanes, Semin will be a second liner and not have as much pressure on him to perform as he did in Washington. One of Semin's linemates could be 20-year-old Jeff Skinner, who has a lot of talent and speed to burn, which can be deadly if you add a sharp-shooting Semin on Skinner's right wing.
With two of the Staal brothers, a former Capital and some great young talent, the Hurricanes significantly raised their aspirations for the coming season. The Capitals, on the other hand, have to deal with this Hurricane team six times per year and compete in the standings for a playoff spot. Not signing Semin may have been the right decision for the Capitals … until he signed with the Hurricanes.
Posted July 30, 2012