Potential UFA target: Alexander Semin

Oh where to start with this one…. Alexander Semin is known to be soft, he has an awful reputation for disappearing when a season matters most and he’s outstayed his welcome in Washington on a team that collectively has (massively) underachieved. Despite all this, there is a lot to like about Semin as a potential free agent target.

Barring a generous contract offer from the KHL, or an offer from one of the NHL’s lottery teams desperate for a quick fix, Semin is highly unlikely to get the same kind of money he earned this season ($6m) this summer. If Semin wants to play for a team with playoff/Cup aspirations, he will certainly need to keep his demands relatively modest.

Semin has a wicked shot and is a pure goal scorer who has proven he can be a point/game player in the NHL. There are not many of those to be had on the cheap. He can produce offensive on his own, something that he had to do a lot of in Washington because for most of his tenure the Caps lacked a skilled second line center to take advantage of Semin’s ability. Alex Ovechkin (rightly so) was the main beneficiary of Nicklas Backstrom’s playmaking abilities leaving Semin to play with the likes of Troy Brouwer, Marcus Johansson, and aging veterans such as Jason Arnott and Brendan Morrison.

There are several legitimate reasons to consider Semin as an option for the Rangers.

First of all, the ‘only’ thing he costs is dollars. Unlike acquiring Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan or even grabbing Nashville’s Radulov, Semin doesn’t cost the organisation assets and given that the Rangers never worry for cash, his contract would be of no concern other than for the cap mathematicians at the MSG. He’s unlikely to be able to demand a long-term commitment given his damaged reputation. Compared to Zach Parise there is no risk in that aspect either.

Then there is the Marian Gaborik factor. With Gaborik likely to miss a chunk of next season (barring CBA complications) and likely needing plenty of time to get back to full speed, the Rangers lack of top end skill is even more noticeable than it was toward the end of their recent playoff run. Enter Semin? The Russian could play on either of the top two Rangers lines (with or without Gaborik) and the Rangers have more play-making support (in the form of Richards, Stepan and even Anisimov) than the Capitals had down the middle. The Rangers should be able to put Semin in a position to succeed.

Semin is clearly not built in the Tortorella mould and that would be a significant concern. He’s a finesse player (to put it politely) and there’d have to be some compromise on both sides if Semin would join the Rangers and be a success. However, has that process already begun? With Tortorella’s recent comment “You have to be really careful about ruling people out; you don’t want to box yourself in” maybe the coach has truly recognised he needs to embrace (aka tolerate?) skilled types such as Semin.

Simply put, Semin scores goals at an impressive rate. With a 40 goal season on his CV -backed up by two 30 goal campaigns – the main issue that has stopped those numbers from being even more impressive is a Gaborik-like health résumé. With three of his last five seasons producing less than 70 games played, Semin will never win any ironman contests.

The bottom line is this: rarely does such an elite level, skilled player such as Alexander Semin potentially come with such little risk. If a one or two year deal proves unsuccessful the Rangers can simply move on from a failed experiment, from a calculated risk. There is no ripple effect of lost assets or tears from missed opportunities, such as a window of contention slamming shut. The Rangers are one potential contender (and a young one at that) that can afford to give Semin a second chance. It could work for both sides.

*Be sure to check out the rest of our free agent coverage here.

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  1. From the quote from his agent (about 5 minutes after the Rangers eliminated Washington) his main concern is going somewhere he gets ice time. I’m not sure Torts will give him all that much if he’s playing soft, despite the quote about keeping an open mind. Just not sure he fits, but you do make a good argument. I don’t think I’d be for it, however it was low enough a risk I guess you need to consider it.

  2. He is known as a selfish player who routinely takes shifts off. Torts would eat him alive. Though I don’t doubt that some NHL team will throw money at him due to his immense skill, I am thinking he might end up in the KHL.

  3. Didn’t Tortz bash Washington players for not playing defense? I can’t remember if it was on 24/7 but I definitely remember him talking to the team and saying that their star players won’t come back and play defense. He was clearly referring to Semin (among other players) and I was surprised that he publicly said that. I would give Semin 3 regular season games until he is benched for a third period.

  4. I like him.

    While soft, let’s consider we signed BR…who’s as soft as they come on defense and who got muscled off the puck regularly in the playoffs.

    But back to Semin, he can score can come cheap and could be a reclamation project for the Rangers, as could Radulov. I think Semin has the better shot, I would prefer Bobby Ryan over most others as he fits into the sandpaper and grit model we have been running.

    It really comes down to the changes Torts makes in the team strategy. With Speedy players like Hags, Kreider, adding in a Semin type player would make you want to have your playmakers setup streaking scorers coming down the off wing over cycling and trying to jam the puck in all the time.

    But let’s watch Glen and Torts take a different approach and promote from within, Call up Marsseault(or what evert that speedy guy from Hartford is named) and resign Zucc (who has a buyback option in his KHL contract.

    I would rather promote from within, with Bobby Ryan my first choice of a pickup, Promote from within my second, and Semin my 3rd choice.

    1. The difference between Richards (and even Gaborik) is that they care enough to play defense. The knock on Semin is that he literally doesn’t care enough to put forth an effort every shift. Does that sound like a good fit for this team, no matter how skilled the guy is?

      1. Agreed. And I don’t know what “soft” has to do with anything. It’s about backchecking to make plays. Richards and Gabby understand this and how critical it is to success. Semin’s never taken an interest in being a complete hockey player and likely never will.

        1. We also need to remember that Semin type players (too much skill but lackadaisical and inconsistent effort) get eaten alive by the NY fans and the press. Can he handle the pressure? I dont think so.

  5. I actually like the idea. Like you said high skill low reward. I would shy away if it becomes a bidding war and the price goes too high, but just think of the possibilites on the power play and the added depth it gives us. Not to mention with his skill sets it will take some pressure off of Kreider on the wing to produce some goals. Gabby had a similar reputation and there was an article about Gaborik saying that he completely changed under torts… I’m not saying Semin will, but if you could sign a 30 goal guy, regardless of when the goals come for 3-4 million and only 2 years just in case it blows up in our face, I dont think Sather can say no to that. *Biggest thing… it’s only money! no players in return and no long term commitment

  6. Uh… No, thanks.
    Goals in the last 3 seasons: 40 -> 28 -> 21
    Playoff points in last 3 seasons:
    2 in 7 games
    6 in 9 games
    4 in 14 games

    You can justify those excuses for a 40 goal scorer and consistent playoff performer. As a *former* 40 goal scorer… as I said before, no, thank you.

  7. I’m not thinking Semin would be a great fit but at the right price, with short contract length he’s tempting.

    …..And Jess P; 40-28-21? have to appreciate mitigating sircumstances such as injury. With the right center support (aka not Brendan Morrison) he’d score goals. Its whether a coach can tolerate all the ‘other stuff’ he brings to the table.

    1. Jeff – not Jess. Be it as it may…
      Gaborik’s 22 goals last year had a mitigating circumstance – a shoulder injury. Semin’s production indicates a trend. Down.

      Who was Gaborik’s center when he scored 86 points in 76 games in his Ranger first year? Star players score no matter who they play with.

      1. Semin has had a fair few injuries too, so in the spirit of fairness if we give Gaborik (rightly so) a break because of injuries you have to factor that in to Semin’s situation.

      2. Jeff P

        Think Chris was waiting for Me to tell him that you don’t sign someone who isn’t a fit for your current system.

        It is not about money; it is what do you say to the rest of the locker room when you have 17 skaters busting their butts and one who is not?

        We now return you back to the Jeff P show

  8. While I agree that adding Semin will help the Rangers deal with Gaborik’s absence, I do not agree that the only cost in acquiring him is money.

    He demands a spot on one of the top two lines of offense, and signing him might prevent the Rangers from signing or trading for a forward that plays a two way game (Parise). The risk in acquiring Semin is simply the opportunity cost of signing a better, albeit more costly option that does not come with so many question marks.

    The Rangers look poised to challenge for the Cup, and I don’t view Semin as a player that will push this group over the top.

  9. I will say this about that…

    If Slats is going to sign either Semin or Radulov, and force Torts to adjust his offensive philosophy and risk bruising the team chemistry, then he should try to sign them both… and put them on the same line… narcissistic crybaby Russian prima-donnas always seem to work better in pairs…

  10. Repeat after me.. Petr Nedved… Petr Nedved. NO one wanted him. Messier got him shipped out. Before he left and when he came back all he did was put the puck in the net… He was soft and a whiner. Guess What? If he were thirty I would take him back in a minute RIGHT NOW… GET SEMIN!

    1. we talking about the same nedved? the one who was a soft 25 goal scorer for the rangers and only had his best years on other teams?

  11. I agree he is not a torts type player lets face it with the gutless wonder out until at least nov we need scoring and he can give it to you we are in a bind its going to cost alot to trade for nash or bobby ryan way more then signing semin for a couple years unless we can get iginla cheap

      1. Exactly. He played through the playoffs with a serious shoulder injury. I wouldn’t call him “gutless”

    1. you can thumbs down we 20 times the man is gutless because. he coasts from time to time and dont give me this crap that he played with the bum shoulder. everybody played with various injuries he is no different if he is so valuable why are they still looking for scoring im just disgusted this man cant stay healthy for a long period of time

      1. Hmm so Gabby is gutless playing with a torn rotator and still managing to put up points in the playoffs, BUT YOU’RE THE REAL MAN trolling comments about an athlete you hate on the internet. Makes sense to me!

        1. you can disagree with my comments but there is no need to make fun of my last name or attack me that my friend is low class and gutless on your part. this is some site your running here because you dont agree with someone does not mean you have the right to attack them great writers on this blog reall bunch of classy guys

          1. Why do you think it’s the people who run the site? That could have been any Joe Schmoe.

            In the end I agree with you on your main point, I just don’t get your logic sometimes (see below) and on this issue, why did you assume it’s the writers on the site?

          2. We assure you this wasn’t from a member of our staff. We’ll remove the log in and make sure it isn’t used again. With that said, there’s nothing wrong with the comment itself. Thanks to our little poll, only 2% of our readers think negatively of Gabby’s time as a Ranger. You should expect people to challenge you & what you have written about him in this posting.

      2. “if he is so valuable why are they still looking for scoring”. Really???!!! So one player is supposed to do all the scoring? And if he was better AND stayed healthy we wouldn’t be looking for another goal scorer because one is enough? Trying to find the logic in that statement.

      3. It was the complete lack of secondary scoring that killed them in the Playoffs against NJ and haunted them (and their a pretend Power Play) ALL Season… They need some consistent scoring volume from the 2nd and 3rd lines to take pressure off of Richards and Gabby… I keep hearing about these wunderkind kiddies like Stephan and Anisimov but I see no evidence of 20-30 goals coming out of anyone else except the “big guys”

      4. Rob…have you ever watched or played hockey or are you one of those guys that just sits on his couch and believes he is right about everything. Calling Gabby gutless and implying that he is not living up to expectations when he has 105 goals and 210 points in only 3 seasons with NY is just plain dumb. Especially when he has only played 1 full season with a true #1 center in Richards. He has totally changed as a player and has brought scoring that we desperately need. His best years are coming now that he has matured and bought into the team first mentality. He played with a tremendously painful and debilitating injury because he knew his team needed him, that buddy is not the definition of gutless its a player that puts it all out there because he knows the guys next to him on the bench are doing the same. So please look up some stats catch a game once in a while in between your mindless bloging and come back next time. Maybe in your next post you can write about how Hank needs to improve or maybe Cally needs to be a better leader.

  12. Even at 2M per season, which would be a HUGE haircut for Semin, he would be paid more than Arty, Rupp, Krieder, Stepan, Prust, Hagelin, McDonagh, Sauer and MDZ.

  13. What ever happened to Russians like Federov, Kasparatais,Nemchienov, Konstantinov? Why are the younger Russians like Zherdev, Radulov, OVC and Semin all “enigmatic” Charmin soft head cases.

    The only Russians around that play full out are Malkin and Fedotenko. Does it have to do with where they come from in Russia?

  14. When Torts uttered those words about not excluding someone who is not a perfect fit, Semin was the first thing that came to my mind. He is the sniper that is sorely needed and can be had for only dollars which makes him attractive. Can he and Torts co-exist? Not sure, although Hunter did get him to play D in Washington. It should be noted though, that Semin was quick to declare his time in Washington done after the experience.

    Personally i would like to see Semin come in. I doubt very much ZP leaves the Devs after the Cup run and while he is a better overall fit for the Rangers, he is not a pure-goal scorer in the sense that Semin is. Somebody will likely pay a bunch of money to Semin which makes the chances of him coming to NY pretty slim. But if i was Glen i would make the interest known and see if they can get him on the cheap for a short-term deal.

    Forget the money though – The big question is how does his one-way game affect the chemistry in a locker-room full of grinders and checkers. Even Gabby plays D and forechecks on this team and yet Torts is still all over him. Can Semin handle that and would his new team-mates put up with him and his game – those are the the big questions.

    I would love to add his offense to this team because i think the D can cover his short-falls but there certainly is some risk….If they can get him short-term on a marketable contract then let’s do it. But I think many teams would take that approach which means at the end of the day that someone will overpay and it will not be Glen.

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