Saturday, 25 July 2015

Semin-imum Risk

Alexander Semin's time in Carolina was cut short by three years after the Hurricanes decided they had seen enough of his disappearing act. It wasn't surprising considering his six-goal performance last season, and it's being very apparent that he was the beneficiary of a system in Washington that prided themselves on offence. Never scoring less that 21 goals per season in his six seasons with the Capitals, he eclipsed 21 goals only once in three seasons in Carolina in 2013-14 when he notched 22. After signing a contract with the Montreal Canadiens, one has to wonder which Semin is going to show up this season.

Never mind the fact that Michel Therrien won't stand for his disappearing act, but the Canadiens will expect him to work hard, back-check like a demon, and play defensively sound hockey. Montreal is a defence-first team that has some offensive stars, but they're probably not going to have an Art Ross Trophy winner on their roster any time soon. While adding a former firty-goal scorer to the lineup is fantastic on most accounts, Semin is six seasons removed from that year and hasn't broken thirty goals since. It's going to be difficult to see him potting forty this season based on how Montreal plays as well.

However, if Semin plays like he did in the following video night-in and night-out, everyone will welcome him with open arms.
Giveaway at the blue line aside, that's some solid hustle. The problem is that Semin doesn't often give that kind of effort.

Plugging Semin into the roster spot vacated by PA Parenteau will be interesting considering the one major complaint about the Canadiens is their lack of size up front. Semin is listed at 6'2" tall, but plays like he's 5'9". He's seems somewhat allergic to the corners of the rink, he doesn't throw the body all that much, and driving to the net is a phrase Semin hasn't quite figured out yet. For a guy listed at 6'2" and 210 pounds, he needs to play more like a Max Pacioretty if he wants to succeed in Montreal. Heck, let him work this summer with Brendan Gallagher on how to fight one's way to the net.

While his $1.1 million contract will allow for the Canadiens to bury him in the minors if things go sideways, his cap hit won't sink the team if Therrien uses his healthy scratch option on him. Semin is near the league minimum for salary and he's working on a one-year contract, so there's plenty of motivation for him to play as hard as he can. He admittedly stated in his press conference and, depending on how this season goes, it may have been the beginning of the end for the 31 year-old. Hurricanes GM Ron Francis cited competitiveness as a reason for waiving Semin while head coach Bill Peters scratched him due to conditioning on occasion. Those are the kinds of marks on a player that can kill a career.

"Alex is a pure goal-scorer with a good shot," general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement. "We believe his addition to our group of forwards will strengthen our offensive production and our power play. A veteran winger with size, Semin has reached the 20-goal plateau seven times since the beginning of his NHL career 12 years ago. His signing represents a great opportunity for the organization and for Alex's career."

The last part about the opportunity for his career has probably never been truer. Semin's on a thin thread in terms of staying in the NHL, and he'll have to show everyone that he still has the hustle and drive that made him one of the league's best goal scorers in Washington. Otherwise, no team will take a chance on him next season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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