The last time a Russian who played for the Capitals was rumored to be considering the KHL, despite public declarations to the contrary, the Avs signed him. Will history repeat?
#28 / Left Wing / Washington Capitals? (spoiler: maybe.)
Mar 03, 1984
2011 Cap Hit: $6,700,000
2012 Status: UFA
|2011 - Alexander Semin||77||21||33||54||9||56||2||0||1||183|
Alex Semin had one of his worst seasons in terms of offensive production last year. He still would have been a very, very close second in both points and goals for the Avalanche. He's expected to not re-sign with the Caps and test UFA instead, his agent having said as much to ESPN, but both he and Ovechkin denied that immediately (via the excellent Chesnokov).
The Knocks: Semin is coming off a year in which he was paid $6.7 million to pot 21 goals and 54 points. He is seen by many as a guy on the decline. There's that word "enigma." Then there's the rumors that he's headed for the K and a payday, the insinuations of floating and poor work ethic on the ice, and everything else you hear about every Russian in the Caps organization and many who aren'.
The Knack: Boy can he goals. At his peak, Semin is an elite-calibre sniper with a 40-goal season and a career shooting percentage of 14.1%. Seriously. Pew pew. He has a career .87PPG pace. The guy is sneaky and crafty and seems to be generally light-hearted and fun, pranks his teammates at practice and doesn't afraid of anything.
The Knumbers: For the stat-minded among us, I bring you this. S/t to CobraAceS for the fanpost here on it (but I had seen it before via Russian Machine). The first thing the article does is explain Semin's lack of production in terms of linemates: from playing a lot with Alex Ovechkin, Tomas Fleischmann, Nick Backstrom, and Brooks Laich to spending more of this season with Jason Chimera and Mathieu Perreault (5.49% of WSH's EV lines per LWL). It also notes that, in most cases, he makes his teammates on ice better. Semin ranks highly in both goals for and goals against per 20 minutes of zone-start adjusted 5v5 time, which is a pretty big slap to his DOESN'T TRY IN THE DEFENSIVE ZONE critics.
It's also worthy of note that Semin's ATOI was down to the lowest it's been since his rookie year (16:47), and in Dale Hunter's sludgy defensive system, his shots per game did the same (2.38). In a faster style, with more time on ice to shoot the puck (like he would certainly see in Colorado), I for one would expect his output to increase.
The Kneed: The Avalanche were poor last season at scoring, putting home an NHL 25th 2.43 goals/game despite an NHL 8th 31.5 shots/game. You can point to the lack of power plays for the low scoring output of course, or the lack of anyone on the team to finish regularly. (Or both, I suppose, if you want to be boring about it.) The only Av with a substantial shot total who could beat Semin's career shooting percentage last season was David Jones at 14.7%.
Steve's Take: Scoring forwards are sorely needed. Semin is a proven scoring forward. The "lazy" moniker may or may not be our good ol' anti-Russian bias, as numbers seem to imply he's good on both ends of the ice. He also would be a countryman for Semyon Varlamov, who of course was a teammate of Semin's with the Capitals. Paul Stastny could get this guy back to 35 goals (and himself back to 50 assists). Unfortunately for the Avs, it's probably much more likely that Semin doesn't actually leave, or lands with the New York Rangers or (God help us) the red wings Presented By Amway. I fully expect the Avs to land a UFA winger if not two, but not this one. Maybe the haters are right and we'll end up thankful.