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Should the Rangers take the plunge and sign Alexander Semin?

Bobby Bevilacqua

Feb 7, 2013; Ottawa, ON, CAN; Carolina Hurricanes right wing Alexander  Semin (28) during warmup prior to game against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Alexander Semin is still a free agent, and his offensive prowess could benefit the Rangers lineup. Should they sign him? Photo courtesy of Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports.

Although it’s July 19th, there are still some surprisingly good players left on the market as free agents. Eric Fehr, longtime Capitals, is still without a team. Brad Boyes is still a free agent after being bought out by the Panthers. James Sheppard is also unsigned.

But the most controversial free agent on the market is Alexander Semin, the former standout with the Capitals who was recently bought out of his contract by the Carolina Hurricanes. He was making $7 million this past season, and wound up being a healthy scratch at times, registering only 19 points in 57 games.

Semin has gotten criticism around the league for being a locker room cancer, and not the type of player that you want on a championship caliber team. But are those criticisms warranted?

First and foremost, this shouldn’t be on the top of Gorton’s to-do-list. Signing Derek Stepan to a long term contract is of utmost importance. After that, with whatever is left over, then maybe he can look for another depth player on a short deal.

When Alex Semin was in his early days with Washington, there may have been no better player in the entire league. Back in the 2009-10 season, Semin scored 40 times while also adding 44 assists.

WASHINGTON DC- NOVEMBER 07 : CAps Alexander Semin  center the puck up a for a shot as   the Washington Capitals play the Philadelphia Flyers   at the Verizon Center in Washington DC,  November 07, 2010. (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Alexander Semin was an offensive standout in D.C., scoring 40 goals in the 2009-10 season. Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post.

He started out well in Carolina, averaging a point per game in the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, but his production quickly dipped off, falling to six goals and 13 assists this season. The Hurricanes scratched him throughout the year, despite his $7 million salary.

The common phrase surrounding him is “lazy.” But Joe Fortunato from Blueshirt Banter makes a great point. Alexander Semin has never been a defensive player. When he was scoring 40 goals a year, nobody cared, because the offensive production was fantastic. Once the scoring dips off, the consensus was instantly “he’s lazy and not trying hard.” He never had a defensive game for him to fall back on, which made those comments come even more frequently.

His offensive drop off may be a product of the team he was on. The Carolina Hurricanes were one of the worst offensive teams in the entire league. Eric Staal led the team with 54 points, and defenseman Justin Faulk was the only other player to tally over 40 points (49). It’s not like Semin had anyone good to pair with or to feed him the puck.

Semin was pretty unlucky. He shot the puck a lot less than he did in his 22 goal 2013-14 season, but his shooting percentage plummeted four points to 6.5%. His PDO (his on-ice shooting percentage + on ice save percentage), which is supposed to be around 100%, was at 97.49 at even strength. That can somewhat be attributed to bad luck and good goalie performances.

Semin also saw his power play time cut in half this season. In the past two seasons with Carolina, he averaged over 3:30 of power play time. This season? Just 1:30. That’ll surely do damage to anybody’s numbers.

One stat that really impressed me was his possession numbers, which show that he was able to create offense for him and his teammates with the puck. On a horrible offensive team, he still managed a 55.89 corsi for%, which means that his team generated far more shots and scoring chances when he was on the ice.

The Rangers have taken risks in the past. Anton Stralman and Benoit Pouliot were two cheap, low-risk signings that Sather made in an attempt to add to the production of the team. Most teams around the league would not take a chance on those players, but they wound up playing integral roles in helping the team get to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994.

Semin is one of those low-risk, high reward type of players as of right now. While many say he’s a bad locker room presence, it seems to me that the Hurricanes gave up on his as well. It can’t be easy to play on a team that doesn’t really want you there.

He still has a lot of skill, and he could be a fantastic on either the now-vacant second line right wing slot, or with Kevin Hayes on the third line. His creativity and passing on the power play would be tremendous, and the Rangers don’t need him to be a two way player. They already have Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Jesper Fast, Dominic Moore and others to be the defensive forwards. Semin could purely focus on offense and scoring here, and utilize his abilities to score more crazy goals like this one.

My guess is that a deal could get done for really, really cheap. I don’t think anybody wants to take a chance on him, and he’s still getting paid from Carolina, so Gorton could potentially get him on a bargain deal. If he can, then why not? Maybe it’s worth the risk to sign a high-ceiling player like Semin over the steady veteran Brad Boyes.

The Rangers have taken risks in the past that have paid off for them. Semin could be another risk that really pays off. With the talent on the Rangers, it’s very possible that he could come up with at least 40-50 points. And that could be just enough to push them past that last hurdle, and on towards a Stanley Cup championship.

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Posted on July 19, 2015, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I have said this on many forums. Semin is a great player that doesn’t play great on a long term contract. Just think about it. When he had a bridge contract with Washington, he played great ( no defense) but great. He signed a long term deal and he laid down till he got traded. His first year in Carolina he made the capitals look stupid with his offensive performance. Then they gave him a 5 year deal. When it happened I just laughed and said. He will lay down for the first 3 years. My Hurricane friends said I was as nuts u till they saw it for themselves. With all that said, I would take him on a year to year basis. DO NOT sign him long term. 1 year maybe 2 because him moving to a new team will motivate him enough to give a great effort and the second he will be playing for a contract.
    If Gorton signs I’m long term he should be fired on the spot. This guy gets paid and he lays down like $20 hooker.

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  2. RangerTantrum

    So because the Rangers have other players who play all three zones means they can afford to let Semin loaf on the backcheck and not cover his defensive responsibilities? Really? What position would that put the coach in in? Coaches need to be consistent in order to get guys to buy into their system. Let one guy off the hook and you have resentment in the locker room and chaos on the ice as other players go out of position trying to cover for Semin. How do you think Hank would react? Ever see how The King gets pissed at guys who screw up coverages? Semin would have Hanks goal stick up his nether region within a month.

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  3. No Way on Semin. I’m a member of the forum where this was likely initially brought up, and many people have jumped on the bandwagon. The idea seems to have gone viral.

    Semin has no work ethic and is a locker room cancer. It eventually reached a point when the Hurricanes decided they would rather pay him 14 million dollars over 6 years to GO AWAY, and suffer a 2.3 mil Cap hit penalty for each of those 6 years. That’s some pretty serious commentary on what kind of player Semin must be. Reminiscent of Alexander Mogilny, Semin plays his best during contract years, and then falls off a cliff. Semin is truly the complete opposite of the type of player that currently plays for the Rangers. Think of the work ethic and heart shown by players like Fast, Brassard, Stepan, Nash, Zuccarello, and on & on & on. Semin is the antithesis of a typical Ranger.

    Look, the Rangers already have 22 players on 1-way NHL contracts and 3 guys that are on 2-way contracts but will play NHL hockey (Hayes, Etem, Miller). We can only carry 23 @ maximum, but have 25 right now that will make NHL money. We won’t be adding another. If we did, someone like KK would have to go…and I don’t see that happening. Not for someone like Semin.

    I understand the thought process behind the lust for Semin…to get something flashy for next to nothing…but there is a reason you may be able to get Semin for next to nothing. We don’t need the baggage that would come with a Semin signing.

    Finally, does anyone remember the “Slap Attack” Semin unloaded on Staal several years ago? Ahahahah, no way does this guy ever wear a Rangers Jersey.

    Slap Attack > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBjvBdQRalQ

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