Dennis Bernstein examines some likely options for
former-Capitals sniper Alexander Semin.
LOS ANGELES -- With offense in short supply this July, former
Washington Capitals winger Alexander Semin will be an attractive but
When the free agent opening bell rings on Sunday at noon ET, one would
think that a left winger who's averaged 30 goals and 34 assists over
the past three seasons would have a dozen suitors at his door. While
there will be many inquiries, there is no front runner attached to the
man who holds those robust credentials.
Last Friday, word came from agent Mark Gandler that there was to be no
eighth NHL season in Washington for his client, and the 28-year-old
native of Krasjonarsk, Russia would start his journey into the great
unknown of unrestricted free agency.
Not even the longtime friendship with teammate Alex Ovechkin could
coax another deal out of Capitals management.
Gandler expects a long-term deal at approximately the same $6.7
million Semin earned this season, but his declining production (40
goals in 2009-10 to 21 this past season) and reputation as an
underachiever may prove a barrier to getting both price and term.
As for the prime suspects for his services, there are more than a few
teams who have a need:
New York Rangers -- Their demise against the New Jersey Devils
showed that despite the surprising play of rookies Chris Krieder and
Carl Hagelin, the Blueshirts were a forward short at the end of the
While Rick Nash rumours continue to hover, GM Glen Sather is thinking
long and hard about shipping multiple assets for the Columbus gunner.
With money never being an issue at MSG, and without having to move a
valuable defenseman (Michael Del Zotto), a dose of John Tortorella may
be the tonic needed to maximize Semin's still abundant skills.
Anaheim Ducks -- With Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf entering the
final year of their deals, and Bobby Ryan rumors not going away,
Anaheim GM Bob Murray is under the gun to build a second forward line
The Ducks have suffered from lack of secondary scoring for two seasons
and their first line gunners need to be convinced that Murray is on
track to make them a contender again, else they fly the coop. Ponying
up the green for Semin would be a clear signal that Murray is will do
to what it takes even with risk attached, to bring winning back to
Detroit Red Wings -- Should the Red Wings miss on their prime
target of Zach Parise, they're one of the teams that look at Semin as
a viable Plan B.
The logic of a Motown landing boils down to a simple thought, "Pavel
Datsyuk can fix Alex." With Thomas Holmstrom and Jiri Hudler not
returning, it's a reasonable gamble for Detroit GM Ken Holland to
Florida Panthers -- They laughed at Dale Tallon when he took on
all those veterans with their hefty contracts last summer. They said
it was impossible to build chemistry with so many new faces with only
one training camp. They stopped laughing when the Panthers won the
Southeast Division and were an overtime Game 7 goal away from
eliminating the Devils. The Cats were the second lowest scoring team
to make the playoffs and with Jason Garrison set to leave, there's
more pressure to produce offense to defend their crown.
Vancouver Canucks -- Chris Higgins and David Booth no-showing
down the stretch and in the playoffs furthers the argument that
Vancouver needs another top six forward, preferably a left wing. The
Canucks are out of the Nash proceedings and will need additional
offense in the early season as Ryan Kesler mends from another off
KHL -- Though Gandler wants to keep Semin in North America, he
should be reminded of the Rolling Stones song, "You Can't Always Get
What You Want." The stark reality that stands in front of client and
agent is that in an atmosphere that sees Cory Schneider earning more
money than Jonathan Quick next season; no team may be willing agree to
terms with a player whose production has dropped 35 percent and
remained flat since two seasons ago.
Dallas Stars -- This team is willing to spend, and GM Joe
Nieuwendyk is itching to pitch offers. If there's one team willing to
spend some cash this summer, the Stars may be the one club interested
in giving Semin what he's looking for.
San Jose Sharks -- Instead of dealing key assets for someone
like Rick Nash, Sharks GM Doug Wilson might be better served offering
Semin a long-term contract and using those assets to reshape the rest
of the roster. There might be one little problem, and it's called the
salary cap. Granted, teams don't have to be under the cap until the
start of the regular season, but it'll prove to be very difficult for
Wilson to move other players for their proper value if teams know he's
in a pinch.