The Malik Report
St. James: if the Red Wings can’t land Parise, might Alexander Semin may be their consolation prize?
by George Malik on 05/16/12 at 04:10 PM ET
Given his incredibly inconsistent performances, never mind the fact that his agent is Mark Gandler (who’s insisted to ESPN’s Craig Custance that his client won’t bolt for the KHL), the prospect of the following “marriage” makes me cringe, but, via RedWingsFeed, the Free Press’s Helene St. James broaches the subject anyway: the Wings are not able to target Zach Parise this summer, their best bet in terms of an unrestricted free agent forward who can score goals is…Alex Semin:
Semin is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and there’s little chance he’ll be back with Washington. He has had three consecutive sub-par playoff performances, and that, coupled with the fact the Capitals continue to struggle every spring despite high expectations, is certain to prompt change in Washington. The 2011-12 Caps had one of the NHL’s highest payrolls, partly because of the $6.7-million contract they gave to Semin last summer. All that got Washington was 21 goals and 33 assists in the regular season and just four points in 14 playoff games.
Semin, 28, scored 40 goals in 75 games 2009-10, but he hasn’t even reached 30 since, despite playing at least 65 games each of the last two seasons. He had personal success in the 2009 playoffs, with five goals and nine assists, but the following year, he had only two assists in seven playoff games. In 2011, he had six points in nine playoff games.
Criticism of Semin’s work ethic or playoff production usually is met with accusations of xenophobia, because he’s Russian. But it’s not like we never hear of Canadian players being accused of not showing up in the playoffs. It’s been said of Dany Heatley. It’s been said of Joe Thornton. It’s a valid concern for any potential employer to have. Chemistry is important to the success of a team, and other players don’t like to see a teammate get rewarded with big minutes if he doesn’t earn them. The Wings have had a great deal of success the past decade, not the least reason being two incredibly hardworking stars up front in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
The Wings do want to add a top-six forward this summer, someone to give them more depth. The top-six group, as it stands right now, encompasses Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula. Danny Cleary is in the mix, if he recovers fully from knee surgery and is able to skate like he can again.
As St.James duly notes, Semin might be tempted to take a little less than he made this past season to play in Detroit with, well…
No doubt Detroit would be an appealing destination for Semin, because there isn’t a forward in the league who wouldn’t like to play next to Datsyuk. But between what the Wings need and what Semin is going to command in salary, this isn’t a match.
And that’s the big issue here. Mark Gandler’s notorious for sending his NHL clients back to Russia when his outlandish salary demands aren’t met—you might remember him as the agent for, let’s say, Alexei Yashin, Alex Svitov, Evgeni Artyukhin, Stanislav Chistov and a long, long line of former NHL’ers—so it’s entirely possible that, as Pro Hockey Talk’s Joe Yerdon suggests, Semin and Alex Ovechkin’s presences on Pavel Datsyuk’s wing at the World Championships might be the only opportunity for a 28-goal-scorer whose agent will be demanding $6 million-plus to play alongside Datsyuk on a regular basis.
Update: Whoops, proof that I’m just getting my feet wet again: here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan’s take on the situation:
Semin has tremendous talent, no doubt. He has a terrific shot and good one-on-one moves. He notched career highs in goals (40) and points (84) in 2009-10. He has scored 187 goals in the past six seasons. But is that offensive firepower enough to overlook the baggage he brings? Semin has a reputation for not playing hard on a consistent basis and disappearing at times. Former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau made him a healthy scratch for one game earlier this season.
If Semin lacked motivation to play on a team with stars Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, would the situation be any different with Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg?
Semin hasn’t been a strong playoff performer. He has just 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 30 postseason games over the past three seasons – after putting up 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) in his first 21 playoff games. Still, Semin is in his prime (28), and he shoots right-handed, which would be a bonus for a Red Wings team that has only two right-handed shooting forwards, Patrick Eaves and Jan Mursak, neither of whom dressed in the playoffs.
Semin’s issue with the Capitals, according to his agent, was the way he was being used.
Gandler told ESPN the Magazine: “I think the issue is with the organization, not necessarily with the coach (Dale Hunter, who resigned this week). They told us Alex is not going to play short-handed, he’s not going to play in the last minute. He’s going to get the same ice time as everybody else ... Alex is not ready to be a role player. He wants to be a full-time player. It’s important to him.”
Semin earned $6.7 million in 2011-12. He won’t get that much on his next deal, even in a weak market. But Semin might be the best available forward if Parise re-signs with the Devils. In any event, many teams figure to be interested.
Any player whose agent pulls out the, “It was the coach’s fault for not using the player properly” card scares me.
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