The Puzzling Tale of Ex-Capital Alexander Semin

Former Washington Capital Alexander Semin is a puzzling yet talented player. When he was 100 percent focused and firing on all cylinders for the Capitals, Semin was amazing. Unfortunately, he was rarely focused and often looked bored – which gave him a well-earned reputation as a lazy, uncaring forward. In the season that just ended for his current club, his stats were ridiculously bad; more on that later.

The Russian-born Semin, a close friend of superstar Alex Ovechkin, began his NHL career with the Capitals in the 2003-04 season. He recorded 10 goals and 12 assists that year. After spending two years in Russia to fulfill his Russian military obligations, he scored 38 goals and 35 assists in the Capitals’ 2006-07 season. Since that season, he was in the top three on the Caps’ scoring charts for all but one of his next five seasons.

Semin was also a participant in one of the most hilarious fights in NHL history:

“I’m gonna slap you silly kid!”

Entertaining fights aside (even his teammates were trying hard not to laugh) Semin was a good commodity during a time when the Capitals went from worst to first in the old Southeast Division. In fact, he is the fifth all-time leading goal scorer for the Capitals with 197 goals. So, when he became an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2012, and given that the Caps only gave him a one-year extension deal the year before, it came as no surprise that Semin was snapped up by a new team: The Carolina Hurricanes.

The Canes must have thought they’d inked a player who could get them moving up to the next level – a seasoned goal scorer with a proven track record for amassing points. However, I’m sure that their first piece of business was to tell Semin to never ever attempt to fight again during a game. After that, the sky was the limit. Actually, $7 million was the limit. That’s what Semin was worth to the Hurricanes in a one-year contract for the 2012-13 season. And he wasn’t too bad during that strike-shortened season, ending up with 13 goals, 31 assists and a plus/minus rating of plus-14.

Canes Paid $1.17 Million for Each of Semin’s 2014-15 Goals

Alexander Semin
Happier days for Alexander Semin (USA Today)

The Hurricanes promptly signed Semin to a five-year deal worth $7 million per year. This season, he scored six goals in 57 games played. Six goals. That’s just over $1 million paid out for each goal Semin scored. The assists were a little more reasonable – he recorded 13 of those. Why the slump? Maybe he misses his buddy Ovechkin. More likely is that he’s missing one of the best centers in the entire NHL: Nicklas Backstrom.

What’s Next for Semin?

Whatever the reasons for his lack of success last season, there is no way for Semin to avoid a trade to another team. The Canes are currently looking at a $7 million cap hit for Semin through the 2017-18 season and a trade is the only solution. Rumors late in the season even stated that the Canes’ senior management might eat a big portion of Semin’s contract.

Alexander Semin
Alexander Semin in action for the Carolina Hurricanes (USA Today)

Semin is 31 years old, 6’ 2’’ and 209 pounds. He’d make a good addition to any team in need of a third- or fourth-line winger. He’s not worth $7 million a year to any NHL team though – not anymore.

Where will Semin be playing in the near future? Pittsburgh? Toronto? Russia? My money is on a return to the homeland.