While most teams have their sights set on reeling in left-winger and top free-agent talent Zach Parise, fellow left-winger and free-agent Alexander Semin is flying under the radar. Most view Parise as a player on the 2012 free-agent market with unmatched skill; however, in reality, Semin is not far behind.
Not only will Semin be a suitable “Plan B” for any team that misses out on the “Parise Sweepstakes,” but he also has the potential to develop into a top-tier superstar in the NHL.
Semin has played seven seasons in the NHL, all with the Washington Capitals, dating back to the 2003-04 season when the Caps finished last in the Southeast division with a 23-46-10-3 record. He was a highly touted 19-year-old Russian rookie that season, and since then, Semin has undergone a great deal of growth as a hockey player.
He has been a huge part of the Capitals' recent success. Washington has made the playoffs in each of the past five seasons, and for the majority of that span, Semin has played with the first-line forwards. During his career, Semin has seen his team go from worst to first. A player with that kind of experience should be valued just as much as a superstar like Parise.
In fact, Semin and Parise, who have each played seven seasons in the NHL, almost mirror each other statistically. Parise has totaled 194 goals and 216 assists for a total of 410 career points. Semin is right behind him with 197 goals and 211 assists, adding up to 408 career points. According to Hockey-Reference.com, Semin has created more goals and has a greater plus/minus than Parise, all while taking 300 fewer shots and averaging less time on the ice per game.
Semin has battled minor injuries throughout his time in the NHL, which may turn some teams away. However, it is worth noting that Semin has only played in 33 fewer games than Parise during his career. GMs across the league should be drooling at the idea of Semin remaining healthy for a full, 82-game season.
The reason why Parise is more of a household name than Semin is because, during his tenure with the Capitals, Semin played in the shadow of his linemate Alex Ovechkin. Playing across from arguably the league’s finest player has not helped Semin develop a national reputation of his own.
Ovechkin averages over 400 shots per season, which does not leave a whole lot of room for the rest of the scorers on the Capitals offense—especially when they’re on the ice at the same time. If Semin is finally given the room to flourish as a superstar with a new team, he has a very good chance to develop into one of the league’s biggest names.
While there is no clear front-runner to land Semin through free agency, according to Fourth Period's David Pagnotta, the Detroit Red Wings are interested in the left-winger and are currently “in the mix.” Perhaps once Parise signs, more teams will be clamoring for Semin’s services.
While Semin’s intriguing potential is not enough to propel him past Parise as the top free-agent talent, whichever team signs him may end up getting more than they ever could have expected.