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June 30, 2012 | 10:21am ET


Semin-al Thinking
 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 risky asset.

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 day.

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 this off-season.

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 Orange County.

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 consider.

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 season surgery.

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.

Dennis Bernstein is the Senior Writer for The Fourth Period Magazine. Be sure to follow him on Twitter.


 

 

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