On Thursday, one of the most gifted players on the NHL market was finally scooped up after a grueling 26 days on the free-agent market. There had been rumors of a return to his former franchise and a possible return to his homeland (Mother Russia), but when all the dust was settled, Alexander Semin became a Carolina Hurricane.
Semin signed a one-year, 7-million dollar deal with the Hurricanes on Thursday. Semin, who has always been top-5 player in terms of skill in the NHL, can certainly boost the offensive production of any franchise.
That is, if the “good” Semin decides to show up and play consistently, something that plagued his time as a member of the Washington Capitals.
One can speculate about the terms of Semin’s new deal, but the general consensus is that Semin is the type of player that GMs are scared-to-death to lock up to a long-term deal. He is the embodiment of Katy Perry’s “Hot and Cold”, going stretches where his lethal shot tears holes through the net, then follows that up with games in which he contributes nothing but 2-to-3 stick penalties.
The cliché here being, “you take the good with the bad.”
When Semin is good, he is very good. After being drafted by the Capitals with the 13th pick in the 2002 draft, Semin totaled 197 goals, 211 assists, and 408 points. He ranks 5th on the Capitals all-time goal-scoring list. He is only one of 18 players in the NHL to average at least 30 goals during the last six seasons. And at only 28, Semin is in the prime of his career.
Carolina, in particular, is very wary of Semin’s elite goal-scoring ability. During his seven seasons in Washington, Semin totaled 27 goals and 45 points, his highest totals against NHL team.
But, there is also “Sasha Minor.” Semin has logged 450 penalty minutes over his career, a number that is much too high for top-six, goal-scoring forward. But the biggest problem with Semin is his consistency, or should I say, his lack of it. He also was never a good playoff producer. In his 51 Stanley Cup playoff games, Semin only scored 15 goals, and had just two points (both assists) in the 2009 playoffs, where the Caps were upset by 8-seeded Montreal in seven games.
If you are one of my loyal listeners from Dropping the Gloves, which is back on the air this fall Wednesdays from 1-2 p.m. on WMUCSports.com (I’m not above shameless plugs), you pretty much know my opinion on Semin. I like players who first and foremost provide a consistency to the team. Your teammates, coaches, and fans should know what to expect from you on any given night. For seven seasons, the Capitals looked to Semin to be a bonafide number-two scoring option behind Alex Ovechkin, and for seven seasons, they got nothing but a player with the occasional hat trick and the more than occasional hooking minor. I also like clutch performers, and although I understand Semin is not the only Capital who seems to shy away in crunch time, he is one of the main culprits.
Many fans like Semin (my co-host on Dropping the Gloves is a huge supporter), but I just could not handle the inconsistency. I honestly thought that Semin was going to be dealt at the trade deadline, and when I heard the rumors that Semin may return to the Caps this offseason, I was disappointed. Again, I understand the temptation. When he is on his game, Semin is one of the deadliest snipers in the game, who also provides stick-handling skills that are all-world. But when he is off, which is way too often for my taste, his game is filled with inconsistency and lazy stick penalties.
I wish Semin the best in his time in Carolina (except against the Caps, of course). He’ll probably go on to become the consistent scoring threat that all Caps fans dreamed of for seven years, but at least he is no longer a headache for the Washington organization. Farewell Sasha Minor.