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St. James: if the Red Wings can’t land Parise, might Alexander Semin may be their consolation prize?

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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cowboycoffee's avatar

whoever throws $6.7M at him, next season, is an idiot

Posted by cowboycoffee from San Francisco, CA on 05/16/12 at 04:24 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Keep that overrated Russian piece away from DET.  At all costs.  I don’t care if he’d sign for $1m/yr, he’s not worth it.

Posted by Primis on 05/16/12 at 04:26 PM ET

w2j2's avatar

The Wings do not want a slacker.

Posted by w2j2 on 05/16/12 at 04:32 PM ET


Seems like a Babcock kind of player!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He’d beat this dangle happy, back slapping, douche of a Russian.

Posted by RyanS from Vancity on 05/16/12 at 04:35 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

No thanks, the Wings don’t need a Russian Franzen.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 05/16/12 at 04:38 PM ET


No thank you, please.

Posted by Garth on 05/16/12 at 04:45 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

He wants a long term deal, too funny!!! KHLBound But there are GMs out there like Burke???

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 05/16/12 at 04:49 PM ET


Burke has been vocally on record that he is vehementy against long-term contracts.

Posted by Garth on 05/16/12 at 04:51 PM ET

gowings's avatar

“No thanks, the Wings don’t need a Russian Franzen.

Posted by Vladimir16 on 05/16/12 at 02:38 PM ET “


Posted by gowings from MTL on 05/16/12 at 05:10 PM ET

awould's avatar

If Detroit can’t land Parise, I’d love to see them give Semin a 1-year deal for $4-5MM.

Semin probably wouldn’t take it. But if he’s serious about wanting to stay in the NHL and get his reputation back, to accomplish that there is no better team than Detroit and no better linemate than Datsyuk.

I believe it is more likely that Semin wouldn’t work out long-term than that he would, but it would be worth a shot for one season. The upside potential is huge. The problems in Washington went far beyond Semin’s work ethic, and Ovechkin isn’t exactly a great role model for hard work the way Datsyuk is.

Posted by awould on 05/16/12 at 05:33 PM ET


The problems in Washington went far beyond Semin’s work ethic

Maybe they did, but they sure weren’t helped by his work ethic.

And when you have Ovechkin buying into the system and blocking shots, Semin’s concerns become that much more glaring.

I’m not sure I’d want him on even a one-year deal.

Posted by Garth on 05/16/12 at 05:44 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

We’re still trying to keep down solid food after watching Franzen this year.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 05/16/12 at 06:57 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

And when you have Ovechkin buying into the system and blocking shots, Semin’s concerns become that much more glaring.

I’m not sure I’d want him on even a one-year deal.

Posted by Garth on 05/16/12 at 03:44 PM ET

Not that I think he’s the answer, but did you watch any Caps games this postseason?  Semin was playing pretty good defensive hockey.  He blocked plenty of shots and was back checking pretty darn well.  I think if you put him on a team with Datsyuk instead of a party boy like Ovechkin, he might become a much more responsible player.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 05/16/12 at 07:37 PM ET

calquake's avatar

I don’t know… a right-handed shot, decent size and in his prime.  Baggage or not, if he’s the best available player in free agency then a 1 year contract to prove himself in the 4-5 mil range isn’t the worst that could happen.  We all want Kenny to pull a rabbit out of his posterior, maybe this is all there will be as far as a scoring winger for the top six through free agency.  Here’s a challenge… who’s available that would be better? (that wouldn’t cost assets)

Posted by calquake from a.k.a. Uniquake, workin' on my manifesto on 05/16/12 at 08:02 PM ET

awould's avatar

Here’s a challenge… who’s available that would be better? (that wouldn’t cost assets)

This is why I think it’s the best option B the Wings have.

Posted by awould on 05/16/12 at 08:19 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Well pick your poison,  facing the unknown rules and cap of the next CBA before you even hit the ice again, are you willing to throw down $10M to get Parise as some teams will, x 11 years?

Maybe a new start with a one year tryout next to Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Helm, Eaves (God willing), Dick Lindstrom, at a reasonable $4.5M would not be a bad alternative compared to locking up a $100M deal just before the restrictions of a new CBA grab you by the crotch.

Posted by RWBill on 05/16/12 at 08:50 PM ET


Jarnkrok may just about be as good an option.
I’d rather see some guy who may not be as good but puts in an effort every night instead of someone who is the definition of inconsistent.

Posted by teldar on 05/16/12 at 09:31 PM ET

jimathor's avatar

Jarnkrok’s not coming over for another 12 months, Kenny said it a few days ago, said he was too small, but he’ll be a Wing the year after.

I don’t mind the idea of Semin as a Wing, in truth it’s an idea that’s been regularly regurgitated in the last year or so.

Parise will have everyone sniffing around him, each one trying more desperate attempts to pull him in. I think it’ll go one of two ways, he either has his eye set on Lord Stanley, in which case he’ll make it known he wants a playoff-ready team that need a little extra scoring (well hellloooooooo). OR, he’ll take the biggest, longest, heaviest, loveliest offer that’s thrown at him and sign for about 30 years at 200 million a year, thus sinking that franchise completely.

Semin’ll be cheap as everyone thinks’ he’s poison. Semin’ll be ignored. Kenny will take a throw for a year or two and try and mould him to how Babs plays the game. Just as he did with Stuie, just as he did with Rafalski, just as he did with ‘Tuzzi. There’s not a one of those I wouldn’t want to give back, let’s face it, we can’t be any worse.

Posted by jimathor from The land of Sir Humblepatch of Bumblehound on 05/16/12 at 11:12 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Jarnkrok and Pulkkinen have one year left on their deals with Brynas IF and Jokerit, respectively, and the Wings aren’t going to mess with them. For a few years now, Holland and Nill have suggested that Jarnkrok will be the exception—when he’s ready, he won’t play in Grand Rapids, he’ll just come into the roster—but he’s just not quite big enough yet and another year in Sweden will fill him out.

What do I think about Semin?

He scares me because as mercurial and sometimes seemingly disinterested as Semin can be, his agent, Mark Gandler, is not only notorious for sending his clients to the KHL, but he also very obviously bitches and moans on behalf of his client when he feels that said client is not being utilized properly, and that act will last for all of five minutes before the player’s on the bench and the GM’s telling the agent that yes, Siberia sounds like a lovely place for his poor, misunderstood client to spend the winter.

If Semin wants to earn his ice time and prove that he can score 30-35 goals, he’d get along real well with Pavel, and if there ever is a locker room where players are told, “That baggage and your bad reputation from previous teams? Leave it at the door, come on in and start over,” it’s the Wings’ locker room, but there are just too many red flags here for my liking.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/16/12 at 11:31 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.