Oh Alex Semin. How I Love/Hate Thee.
Oh Alex Semin. How I Love/Hate Thee.
He is on the verge of possibly signing with the Pittsburg Penguins. As if his departure from the Washington Capitals wasn't awkward enough, he's trying to sign with the team that Washington fans and players alike despise the most. What makes this even more odd is that he is seeking, for the first time in his career, a long term contract. The Penguins apparently are ready to oblige that. So the rumors say.
There were rumors that CSKA of the KHL had offered Semin a 3 year, $30M deal, but those rumors were denied by Semin's agent. He wants to stay in the NHL, but up to this point no one had any interest with Zach Parise still on the market. Now that Parise is in Minnesota for the next 40 years, Semin's only competition is now via trade options in Rick Nash and Bobby Ryan. Semin may be a bigger risk, but GM's don't have to give anyone up in order to sign him. Many believe that teams are weary of the 'coach killer' with 'no character', as he was recently dubbed by analysts Pierre McGuire and Marc Crawford. True, that Semin is lazy at times (most of the time) and he was voted as the third most intimidated player in an S.I. poll of 145 players this past season, and he takes really, really bad penalties - but Semin also has some other interesting stats.
Craig Button tweeted a few days ago something rather staggaring. In the last four years, Semin's +/- is +98. Only four players in the league are better: Chara +108, Burrows +107 and the Sedins, Henrik +106 and Daniel +104. That's pretty amazing. Considering his Power Play time which does not count +/-. What's more is that in 277 games played in those four seasons, he was 271 points, .978 PPG (ranked 14th among players), .44 GPG (11th) and he lead the Caps in takeaways last year and was second the previous two years. All this kid does is eat, sleep, steal pucks and score goals. He really is a marvel.
So why all the hate?
I'll be the first to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with Alex Semin. He has the potential to be the most lethal goal scorers in the league and at times we see that in him. He can easily make Malkin-like plays and zip through the entire team with effortless precision and put the puck in the net. And he does. Then he disappears. For a while. As streaky as Semin is, he just cannot be consistent. Call it 'lack of chemistry' with the dozens of teammates he's been lined up with over the years. Call it 'change of system'. Call it what you want, but Semin has type-casted himself worse than that 'Magic Mike' guy. His stats are good, but they could be better, much better. And going back to his 'lack of chemistry' with his team, he's never had a true centerman that he can call his own. In his defense, he does do a lot of the work himself.
So where will he end up? New Jersey? Chicago? Detroit? Pittsburg? Who knows? Who is going to take a chance on a player who shows up for half the season and floats around until he feels like dancing? Can a new team, a new environment, a new coach and new teammates get Sasha going again? Let's hope so. I'd like to see Semin in the NHL again (mind you NOT for the Penguins). I'd like to see him hit 50 goals with a good centerman by his side setting him up (ahem, Datsyuk). That's the love part of me. The hate part would like to see him rot away in the KHL or sign an absurd contract with, oh let's say Pittsburg, and put up another 20 goal season and float around.
Whatever side of Semin we see this year, and wherever we see him, people are going to hate him or love him no matter how poorly or amazing he plays. He's already made himself the second coming of Alex Kovalev - just another amazing talent that wasn't.