What We Learned: Alex Semin is still available, and there’s a decent reason why
Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
One player put up 21 goals and 54 points in 77 games last season. Another has 30 goals and 59 points in his last 82. One more had 31 goals and 57 points in 82 games.
One of these players has been talked about endlessly for months, the other has only more recently become a topic of conversation. However, both are locked into contracts for at least the next three years, meaning that any general managers interested in acquiring their services will have to give up a certain amount of picks, prospects and players to do so.
The asking price for either of them is, as you might imagine, quite high. Both will require GMs to part with players they think are going to be excellent down the road, and both will require that their teams enter a bit of a win-now scenario, or at least, one that dictates a win-within-the-next-few-years mentality. The thinking is that when you have the ability to acquire perennial 30-goal-scorers like Rick Nash and Bobby Ryan, you do it.
But of course, all this goes without mentioning the first player, who is obviously Alex Semin. There are very, very few right wings in the NHL as good as Semin, but many have wondered aloud exactly what reason it is that he can't get any takers at all.
The obvious answer is that he seems to be a pretty big pain in the ass.
(Coming Up: Mitch Albom is insipid; how Suter and Parise ended up in Minnesota; Crosby's next winger; the Flyers' Plan B; Devan Dubnyk's value; Mikael Backlund's last chance; Bobby Ryan derby; YouTube phenom turned Ducks pick; Shane Doan watch; Jay Bouwmeester to the Blues?; and a creative Roberto Luongo trade proposal.)
It's no secret that he isn't exactly well-liked in the Washington dressing room, and the idiotic July 1 rants from Marc Crawford and Pierre McGuire are certainly based on the perception that he's more trouble than he's worth. And given his ability to produce goals and points consistently, that has to be a lot of trouble.
It's easy to write that kind of talk off as xenophobia, because that's exactly what it is. But certainly, Semin's perceived issues are a huge part of why he's not signed.
McGuire seems to act as a sort of mouthpiece for perception of guys around the league when it comes to trashing players — he does it so rarely that when he's vocal about it, you have to wonder where it comes from — so it's not unreasonable to assume that when it comes to the line for Semin's services, it's not around the block, and that's the reason why. Lots of good players have been boxed out of contracts they probably deserve for similar reasons. Being "bad in the room" is perhaps the worst crime a hockey player can commit.
Now, to be fair, Semin has also done appallingly little to smooth over this perception that he's difficult to deal with (and that whole "Kane is better than Crosby" thing did little to help matters). And given the general attitude toward him league-wide, any general manager that commits a sizable amount of money or years to Semin will likely be crucified by fans and local media, and maybe even his own players and coaches. Based on the terms of such a deal, it could very easily cause a PR nightmare.
But the longer this saga goes on, the more the terms of a theoretical deal with Semin start to weigh on things. Surely by this point, some team desperate for offense and thinking it's on the verge of either making the playoffs or being in serious contention for more valuable prizes, must have at least sent out feelers for what Semin's services would cost.
The answer seems to be: More than most would be comfortable with.
If Semin came out and said he was only looking for a one-year deal right now, there would probably be a line of teams out the door. But Slava Malamud of Sport-Express reports that there are rumors Semin is sitting on a three-year, $30 million offer from CSKA Moscow; which is a nice bit of cash, though it's believed he would prefer to stay here in North America. That must hang over things more than a bit, and one imagines, then, that he's not exactly looking for a prove-it deal, for either or both short term and short money.
It's pretty clear that most GMs would be probably willing to sink a decent amount of cash into a very short-term deal for a player of Semin's caliber, but any amount of years over one or two seems unlikely to be on offer for this one in particular. At least part of that has to do with the above problems, and perhaps also fears that his production is diminishing. He's only put up 54 points in each of the last two years after scoring 40 goals and 84 points in 73 games 2009-10. Though given that the majority of his production this year came on a line with Jason Chimera and Mathieu Perrault, maybe it's understandable.
You can chalk up the lack of a Semin contract to any number of things, and many of them seem to be at least partly true. But still, it's strange to see teams lining up to pay silly prices just to get the chance to give Nash $49.4 million through 2018, while Semin, a seemingly-unwanted superstar, sits at home waiting for the phone to ring.
For NHL teams, there's a lot more at play than how many points Semin will be able to put up with any old line you throw him on. It might not be fair to him, but that's the way it is. In the end, it'll be the teams losing out.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Not sure how many people put it together, but Ducks prospect Kevin Roy, taken by the Ducks in the fourth round a few weeks ago, was the 13-year-old kid from this video, which you have absolutely seen before:
Boston Bruins: There's a reason the Bruins haven't been active at all since July 1 --They're already a really good team and there's not a lot out there to fill their needs. It's really not difficult to figure out.
Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres expect to have some pretty intense battles for roster spots at training camp, which is funny considering how much they're paying projected third-line wing Ville Leino.
Calgary Flames: The Flames re-signed Mikael Backlund the other day, but only to a one-year deal, and the thought is this might be his last chance to live up to his potential in the organization. I wonder if people understand his career shooting percentage is 5.4, which is going to take a big chunk out of anyone's point totals.
Carolina Hurricanes: In which the Hurricanes, who once took almost $20 million in revenue sharing money, are called out for spending big.
Chicago Blackhawks: Like most NHL teams around this time, the Chicago Blackhawks are holding a prospects development camp this week, and fans will be able to see a number of high-quality young players, including a handful of first-round picks. Brandon Saad will be there to make everyone else look bad.
Colorado Avalanche: Someone has to go to clear up the glut down the middle, so trade Matt Duchene? Put him in a package for Bobby Ryan or Rick Nash? Sure, okay.
Columbus Blue Jackets: And just in case you thought those prospect development camps are all scrimmages and drills, let's not forget they also teach the importance of knowing how to cook.
Dallas Stars: Tom Wandell accepted his qualifying offer of just under $900,000 for next season, but now it's unclear how, exactly, he squeezes into the lineup. Of course if you can't find a spot up the middle for a guy who only put up 24 points in his last 147 games, maybe that's not such a bad thing.
Detroit Red Wings presented by Amway: Don't worry everyone, here's Mitch Albom to reassure us that people still want to play hockey in Detroit despite all evidence to the contrary. You want to read some seriously stupid garbage? Here's Ken Holland saying the team can't be giving out the kinds of contracts Parise and Suter were looking for: "If you look at the length of these contracts, you can't be in the free agency market every year." Hey Ken, buddy, didn't you have like $20 million to spend this summer? Didn't you take a private jet to Mississauga to talk to Parise? Come on dawg, at least try here.
Edmonton Oilers: Comparables for Devan Dubnyk's new contract if you were to consider cool and worthwhile stats like wins, time on ice and saves can be found here. Not save percentage. Saves. Yup, this is a good evaluation tool.
Florida Panthers: Not to get too far ahead of ourselves here but this kid who hasn't played a game of NCAA hockey yet might someday replace Brian Campbell. Apparently he has NHL-ready skating ability and has red hair. There ya go.
Los Angeles Kings: The Kings signed Andrew Bodnarchuk, who has five NHL games under his belt, but none since 2009-10. So, depth signing at best.
Minnesota Wild: If you only read one thing I link to today (a big ask, I know), make it this gripping recounting of exactly how Minnesota landed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Just wonderful reporting as always from Michael Russo. Wow. Among the revelations: The Flyers offered Parise $110 million.
Montreal Canadiens: The Habs haven't done much since re-signing Carey Price, but they did inadvertently help St. Cloud State get a promising 18-year-old from the OJHL. SCSU's logo looks like — more accurately: rips off — Montreal's, as it has an "ST" inside a "C". That works?
Nashville Predators: Preds CEO on signing players to big contracts was essentially him saying, "We signed Paul Kariya once and that was pretty dumb sooooo…"
New Jersey Devils: Devils fans worried about what might happen in goal down the road? Just draft Marty Brodeur's kid. No problem.
New York Islanders
: More stuff about Nassau Coliseum needing a vote or something or other. It's summer. What else do you expect the Islanders to get up to?
New York Rangers: Rangers former first-rounder (still funny, by the way) Dylan McIlrath had surgery to repair a dislocated knee cap on Friday and will be out for an unspecified amount of time. He was expected to compete for an NHL job next season, apparently?
Ottawa Senators: The Senators are now in on trading for Bobby Ryan, who makes a lot more sense than Rick Nash in any scenario.
Philadelphia Flyers: No Jagr, no Parise, no Carle, Suter. So here's an article in which it seems the Flyers have never heard the term "sophomore slump."
Phoenix Coyotes: It seems as many as 11 teams have inquired about Shane Doan, which is a lot, so please Shane don't sign elsewhere because everyone in Phoenix would be so sad, at least, if they could pick you out of a lineup.
Pittsburgh Penguins: A winger for Sid Crosby? Yeah, the Penguins would like one. So how about Chris Stewart?
San Jose Sharks: The Sharks have hired Larry Robinson to be an associate coach. Watch your back, McLellan.
St. Louis Blues: The Blues are among several teams believed to be interested in acquiring Jay Bouwmeester. "The Flames are looking for a top-six scorer, despite signing free agent right wing Jiri Hudler to a four-year contract, to be included in a package." Good luck there.
Tampa Bay Lightning: So it's now officially Anders Lindback's job to stop the pucks in Tampa. It sure will be interesting to see how he does behind that defense with his first full season of work.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Trade Phil Kessel and sign Shane Doan. This is a real thing being proposed. Oh god.
Vancouver Canucks: Maybe there's blame to go around where Roberto Luongo is concerned and maybe there isn't. But at least it's pretty much over now. It'll be nice for all involved, fans and casual observers included, to not hear about that any more.
Washington Capitals: Jay Beagle hopes that playing under Adam Oates will help his game develop. So does pretty much everyone in Washington, one supposes.
Winnipeg Jets: The Jets added Mark Dekanich to their goaltending equation over the weekend, who you'll remember as the guy who was supposed to back up Steve Mason last season but was hurt all year and only played five AHL games.
Gold Star Award
Congratulations to Winnipeg columnist Paul Friesen for being sensible with regard to Winnipeg's ability to attract top free agents. It can't. The end.
Minus of the Weekend
Okay I lied, if you only click one link today, click on the one about the Red Wings. It's awful. Seriously, is there anything dumber than Mitch Albom and Ken Holland saying Detroit has "sex appeal?" Nicole Kidman won an Oscar after divorcing Tom Cruise. Well there ya go I guess, people still want to go to Detroit.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User "Gobo" has it knocked.
To San Jose:
I will never backslide!
Ryan Lambert publishes hockey awesomeness almost never over at The Two-Line Pass. Check it out, why don't you? Or you can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter if you so desire.