Potential risks notwithstanding, bringing these two parties together could create something special.
Semin, a former 40-goal scorer, hit free agency at the beginning of the month after he and the Capitals chose to part ways. Marred by criticism over character issues and a poor work ethic, the 28-year-old sniper has seen his stock sink recently, scoring 28 and 21 goals the last two years, respectively.
Had Semin continued to produce as he did in 2009, he’d probably be garnering one of the largest contracts in the league this summer. But as the six-year veteran knows, this narrative hasn’t exactly gone according to plan.
One week has passed since the Russian winger hit the open market, and there’s yet to be much interest in him from potential suitors. Conventional wisdom says that GMs should be chomping at the bit to sign a potential All-Star at a bargain rate—especially in an age when overpayment is so common—but this has been far from the case.
After failing to woo Zach Parise to Raleigh, Semin would be a solid Plan B for the Hurricanes, who are still in search of more offensive help after trading for Jordan Staal. Carolina did explore the option of trading for Rick Nash, but those talks came to a quick halt after Columbus GM Scott Howson asked for Jeff Skinner in return.
All issues aside, Semin would probably fit in well with the Hurricanes, provided that they don’t need to make a long-term investment in him.
“We would look at Semin on a short-term basis,” Carolina GM Jim Rutherford told the Raleigh News & Observer. “We wouldn’t want to get locked in to anything, because we’ve all heard the stories about him. We do like his skill level. It could be that we could bring him in for a year, get to know him and go from there in terms of considering something longer term.”
Makes sense. Adding a guy like this to a team isn’t all that harmful if you can show him the door when necessary. That would be possible with a 1-year deal. But signing Semin to a multi-year contract could be detrimental to the Canes if he doesn’t work out, especially when you consider how tight of a budget Carolina operates under.
The Hurricanes probably aren’t Semin’s ideal choice, but they are certainly one of his best options right now. Semin should be looking for a 1-year deal this summer, given that his stock is close to the lowest it’s been in his career. If he were to sign an extended contract now and return to his old ways, he’d be missing out on a lot of money. So the best course of action would be for him to reprove himself in 2012-13 and hit the market next summer with the chance to earn a hefty raise.
With Kirk Muller at the helm, the Canes should feel confident in their chance to fix Semin’s mental flaws. Muller whipped Carolina’s roster into shape real fast upon taking over for Paul Maurice, and his coaching style and strong sense of accountability may be just what the Russian (former) star needs.
Going back to Semin’s perspective, the Canes have certainly assembled a supporting cast that can attract the free agent forward. True, they don’t have the firepower to compete with, say, Pittsburgh (who are also believed to be in the running for the UFA’s services), but they do have two Staals and a Skinner. The prospect of playing alongside any of those three should be attractive to Semin, and it’s hard not to get excited about the thought of seeing him on a line with Eric and Jordan.
So if Semin wants to take a route that will earn him a lot money over the course of time and a good chance at success, the Canes would be a good fit. Carolina may not be his ideal choice—and with good reason, if we’re completely honest—but the opportunity is there to fix his reputation and get his career back on track.