clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Press Box Musings: The Pros and Cons of Trading for Alexander Semin

"Bottom line: Alexander Semin is a two-way player who is great offensively, stellar defensively and terrific on the penalty kill. The statistics speak for themselves." - Neil Greenberg

Tonight, for the first time since the 2003-04 season, Alexander Semin was a healthy scratch for the Washington Capitals as they welcome the Phoenix Coyotes to the Verizon Center.

Semin's removal from the line-up comes on the heels of his demotion to the Caps fourth line and a seven game stretch in which he has only registered two goals and sixteen penalty minutes, a far cry from the production level Washington is accustomed to.

With the team in an overall tailspin going only 3-7-0 in their last ten games and mired in a four game losing streak a potential shake up is looming. Could this spell the end of Alexander Semin's days as a member of the Washington Capitals?

Moreover, would a team like the Winnipeg Jets be interested in his services?

The following is a breakdown of the pros and cons in acquiring a player like Alexander Semin:

Alexander Semin

#28 / Left Wing / Washington Capitals



Mar 03, 1984

G A P +/- PIM
2011 - Alexander Semin 4 5 9 -3 28

The Pros:

The pride of Krasnojarsk, Russia was selected 13th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft for a reason; he is extremely skilled. To not admit as much means that you are a cement head and should go pound sand.

Since 2006-07, Semin has never scored less than twenty goals or forty points in a single season and on three separate occasions has eclipsed the seventy point plateau (73, 79, 84).

Seventy points. Andrew Ladd lead the Atlanta Thrashers last year with a modest fifty-nine. While predominantly playing in a second line role this season, Semin's recent funk can be attributed to the fact that he is garnering a measly sixteen minutes of ice time per game, much less than the nineteen he has habitually seen the past three years.

A change of scenery could be just what he needs to rediscover his offensive prowess as one of the games elite talents and a team like Winnipeg could easily slot him into their top six.

The crafty Russian winger currently earns 6.7MM and is set to become a UFA this upcoming off-season. With his lack of point scoring, subsequent benching and the simple matter that Washington is scratching the ceiling of the salary cap, Semin's trade value has never been lower and he may only produce a moderate return (think Wheeler, a prospect not named Scheifele and two early/mid round draft picks in 2012 or 2013).

Washington has depth at the forward position and with added cap space, could look to acquire assets at the trade deadline. Meanwhile in Winnipeg, the Jets clearly have cap space to burn for the services of a player with such a skilled pedigree.

The Cons:

Alexander Semin is a mystery, wrapped in a riddle, inside an enigma. There's no telling what you will get out of him on any given night and he is constantly accused of being a disinterested, lazy and an undisciplined player. The proof of these claims read in bold on his career statistics. 410 games; 422 penalty minutes. That's not what you'd expect from a scoring line winger, nor what the Jets particularly require as they are among the league leaders in penalty minutes as it stands.

Since his arrival to North America in 2003, he has largely neglected to use the English language, rarely accepting interviews with the media and, when interviewed, doing so with the aid of an interpreter. Though he may have his reasons for this; there is no way fans in Winnipeg would allow that trend to continue and his arrival could give Dustin Byfuglien a run for the team's whipping boy. Byfuglien is currently tied for second in team scoring and still gets eviscerated, so what chance would Semin have?

This isn't the first time Semin's name has been thrown out as trade bait. For the past three seasons, there have been rumblings in D.C. that Washington could be looking to offload him if the price is right.

It has always been rumored that if Semin is traded from Washington that he would not report to his new team, opting instead to return to Russia and play in the KHL. This wouldn't be a first, as Semin failed to report the season after the NHL lockout ended.

Malcontent with the Capitals roster, he used army duty as his excuse and was caught up in a legal battle with the Capitals until the subsequent fall. Only after his fellow countryman Alexander Ovechkin made his NHL debut - setting the league ablaze - and Tolyatti Lada went bankrupt did Semin decide it was in his best interests to cross over the ocean and continue his NHL career. It is for this reason that most teams refuse to take a flier on him as it could be seen as wasted assets on an uncertain investment.

Couple this with the fact that Semin only has one year left on his contract, there are no guarantees that he would re-sign with any club willing to trade for him which further complicates matters. I'm sure that any trade involving Semin would require his immediate re-signing afterward to ensure his commitment to his new team.

The Conclusion:

So what can we take out of all of this? Well frankly, nothing.

This entire article is purely hypothetical and muddled in speculation. As the Caps proved tonight, they can march on without him. Winnipeg finds themselves in the middle of a divisional battle in which first and last place are only separated by six points. While it might be foolhardy to believe that TNSE would covet a player of Semin's ilk, if they feel they can make a legitimate run at the Southeast Division Championship in their first season, they might roll the dice if they get a good bargain.

If history proves anything, it's that divisional teams normally make strange bedfellows. However General Managers George McPhee and Kevin Cheveldayoff have exchanged pleasantries once before (see Eric Fehr).

And who knows, maybe Semin - who is slowly becoming a shadow of his former self - would thrive on a team which would give him the keys to be the featured offensive weapon he always believed he could be in Washington.

Or maybe the pressure placed on him to be "that guy" - to lead a rabid fan base to their first playoff appearance in fifteen years - would be enough to cause him to collapse upon himself like a falling star.

The question now becomes; what do you think about this hypothesis? Be sure to vote and leave your comments below!