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Offseason Evaluation: Alexander Semin

As the 2011-12 season has come to a close, the time has come to evaluate what it meant for the Capitals, both as a team and as individuals.  As such, as the summer progresses, I will be writing a report card, or individual evaluation, for each player who played in 9 (~10%) of the team’s games, or 4 playoff games. Next up is winger Alexander Semin, who finished his seventh NHL season, all with the Capitals, on this past year’s campaign.

Season Summary: It was a tale of two seasons for Semin, who was downright terrible by his standards until late December, posting only 14 points through December 23 with a plus-minus rating well in the red and over 30 penalty minutes.  After a two-goal performance against the Rangers on December 28, however, Semin was rather steady and inconsistent, save a five-game pointless stretch between February 28th and March 8.  Overall, Semin played in 77 games, tying his career high, posting 21 goals, 54 points, a plus-nine rating, and 56 penalty minutes.  He was also one of only five Capitals forwards to have a positive corsi rating, at 5.21; he did this, however, against the fifth-easiest competition among those forwards. Grade: B

Role Play: One-year deal or not, a player making $6.7 million (more than Jonathan Toews and Ryan Kesler, among others) is expected to score more than 21 goals and 54 points in 77 games.  Granted, Semin played very well defensively even when he wasn’t putting up points for the most part, but those opening two months were simply ghastly from a player who is as good as Semin is.  Maybe he was hurt, maybe he was distracted, I don’t know.  What I do know is that despite that bad first third, Semin helped the Capitals make the playoffs with a two way game that was not appreciated for how good it really was.  But man, that salary and that first two months. Grade: B

Playoffs: After a promising close to the Season, Semin was poor in the playoffs.  He scored three goals, one of them big, in the Boston series, but only had one point, an assist, after game five against the Bruins and had a -4 rating and 10 penalty minutes in 14 games overall.  Again, Semin was one of the Caps’ best puck possessors with a -2.84 corsi rating (4th among forwards); he did this against relatively harder competition than he did in the regular season by playing the sixth-hardest minutes among forwards.  Statistics aside, I was disappointed with Sasha’s postseason.  He’s not a playoff choker, as he has been labeled in the past, but he was not good this year and his lack of production in the Rangers series was one of the reasons the Capitals lost; your best players have to be your best players in the postseason and Semin was not this year. Grade: C

Future Potential: Semin, 28, will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and has expressed through his agent that he fully intends to test the market.  With his agent airing his frustrations about the Washington organization to ESPN the Magazine two days after the Capitals were eliminated, it does not seem as though he wants to come back.  Semin wants to be paid, and he wants more than a one-year deal; the Capitals would be foolish to give him the kind of money he earned last year over more than one year coming off a season that was not deserving of that salary.  I, for one, would put the chances of him being in Capital red next year at about 20%, even though I would like to have him back at a reduced price.  What is likely is that Semin departs for the KHL, as a team in that League will be able to throw a ton of money at him (which would not count towards their salary cap).  Another option is him signing a large free agent contract with another NHL team – somewhere along the lines of Detroit or Montreal.  He’s still a good player, but tensions between him and mangement as well as his exorbitant salary may have finally driven him out of DC. Grade: B

The next evlauation will feature defenseman John Carlson.

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