With the Washington Capitals coming off a season which they spent battling for a playoff spot, this upcoming summer is sure to be a big one for general manager George McPhee and his team.
One of the biggest decisions McPhee will have to make is regarding seven-year Caps veteran Alexander Semin. The enigmatic Russian winger is a free agent this summer, and it's anyone guess what the team's plan is regarding him.
Here are five possible landing spots for Semin in 2012-13.
Over the past few seasons, the LA Kings have struggled to put the back in the net. Badly. Last year, they found themselves finishing 22nd in the NHL in goals scored with 219. They tried to fix the problem by bringing in Mike Richards and later Jeff Carter, but it remains: The Kings currently sit in 28th in goals scored, with just 167.
The LA Kings desperately need a goalscorer, and Alex Semin will be the best option on the market in the summer.
Much like LA, scoring has been scarce in Music City. The Nashville Predators have been in the bottom half of the NHL in terms of goals scored for each of the last three seasons. They are a team that is on the brink of launching a major playoff push, but their lack of top-level goalscorers is holding them back. Semin would solve that for them.
The Preds' problem appears to be set to be temporarily solved this season, with KHL star Alexander Radulov making the move over the Atlantic to join the Central Division team.
However, the condition on his move is that he returns next season, and the problem is likely to come back for the Predators. With one of Ryan Suter and Shea Weber possibly gone, the Preds will have some room to add a big piece in free agency, and Semin could well be their man.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Semin's 400 NHL points in 461 NHL games is the fact that, with the exception of a season with Sergei Fedorov, he has done it with largely without an elite center. Putting Semin alongside one of the league's better center-icemen might just make the Russian explode.
In Pavel Datsyuk, Semin would find the best playmaker in the NHL, and in Semin the Detroit Red Wings would find a player who, when at his best, is arguably the most talented offensive player in the league. Semin is a pure, natural goalscorer, and could really blossom given the chance to play at Joe Louis Arena.
Semin's best season production-wise was 2009-10, when he had 40 goals and 44 assists through 73 games. His point totals have decreased since then, yet he has seen his contract size increase. This figures to be the summer when NHL teams stop willing to pay Semin upwards of the $6.7 million he is getting now.
It has long been speculated that Semin may bolt to the Kontinental Hockey League, and chatter has only picked up since the Caps decided not to trade him at the deadline. As mentioned, there is no way Semin makes $6.7 million in North America next season, and if money is what he is looking for, then the KHL will be his home next year.
At the beginning of the season, there seemed to be no way the Caps would re-sign Semin, but things have transpired over the past year that have certainly changed the look of the future for the Russian.
The first is Sasha's performance. In his first 27 games this season, Semin scored just five goals with six assists for 11 points, to go along with 36 penalty minutes and a minus-9 rating. In his 41 games since then, Semin has 13 goals and 22 assists for 35 points, along with 16 penalty minutes and a plus-16 rating. Recently, Semin has been the Caps' best player, and the team would be in a much worse position without him.
The other event is that of Evgeny Kuznetsov deciding to stay in the KHL for the immediate future. Kuznetsov was expected to replace Semin, but now that he might not be making the move to the NHL, the future for the Caps looks significantly less bright.
There is no doubt that Semin will not be brought back for a contract as large as the one he currently is on, but at this point, there is a good chance the team re-signs him.
Follow Jake Ware on Twitter at @JacobWare95