When Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford publicly bowed out of the Rick Nash sweepstakes, he mentioned former Washington Capitals winger Alex Semin as a player whose offensive skills he coveted.
"We would look at Semin on a short-term basis," he told the 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."
Well, get to know him: Semin and the Hurricanes agreed on a 1-year, $7-million deal on Thursday. That's a $300,000 raise over the $6.7 million he made on a 1-year deal with the Capitals last season, no doubt compensation for Semin agreeing to a short-term contract.
Said Rutherford of Semin:
"We have done a lot of research about Alexander, and discussions about his fit with our team have included people at many different levels of our organization, including players, coaches and staff," said Rutherford. "What's been clear throughout this process was his commitment to wanting to play in the NHL, and compete against the world's best players.
"Alexander's elite skill level and ability to score from the wing fill an important need on the ice, and we hope that a fresh start in Carolina will serve both Alexander and our team well."
Was this the right move for the Hurricanes?
Semin scored 40 goals in 2009-10, but has been under 30 (28 and 21) in his last two seasons. Criticism of his attitude and work ethic — he's occasionally been a player who needs to feel 110-percent to hit the ice — have been levied for years. He's pulled disappearing acts in the playoffs; then again, who hasn't on Washington?
With the Hurricanes, it's a cleaner slate and a new set of forwards with whom to find chemistry. Just spit-ballin' here, but if Jordan Staal plays center, and Eric Staal shifts to left wing, and Alex Semin's a right wing … The Triple S Line?
Semin is the ultimate battlefront for the advanced stats community vs. the observational analysis crew. His numbers add up to a star talent in the NHL; the diminishing returns, however, can't be denied, and anyone that watched Semin on the regular looks beyond the stats.
That said, getting of D.C. helps him. It's a great 1-year investment for the Hurricanes; wonder if the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins made their bids for him as well?
Ah, wonder no more on the Red Wings front. From Ansur Khan of MLive:
Semin's agent, Todd Diamond, told M-Live.com that he had only one conversation with the Detroit Red Wings.
"It never got serious with them,'' Diamond said.
As for the Capitals, a lot of offense just officially walked out the door. They're strong down the middle, but who's putting the puck in the net?