As we journey deeper into the month of July, the list of available top-level NHL free agents dwindles.
Most of the top tier have spoken to their suitors, weighed the pros and cons and signed deals worth millions of dollars. One position that still has two top-level players available is right wing, as both Alexander Semin and Shane Doan remain unsigned.
Doan, a veteran of over 1,100 NHL games, had spent his entire career before July 1 as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes. He has always been looked at as a team guy and a solid leader; as such he has numerous teams vying for his services.
Semin is a talented scorer, putting up 408 points in his 469 career NHL games. As far as nice things you will hear abut him, talented is probably the only positive adjective.
Recently former Stanley Cup-winning coach Marc Crawford tore into Semin (via TSN, h/t washingtonpost.com), calling him “a complete loser” and accused him of having “no character.” Not to be left out of the Semin bashing, Pierre McGuire joined Crawford, calling Semin, “the ultimate coach killer.”
So, if you are wondering why Semin, a nearly point-per-game player sits on the sidelines, wonder no longer. With that said, notice that neither Crawford nor McGuire called his talent into question, and there’s a reason for that; you can’t call it into question. For that reason, teams should be willing to take a chance on the 28-year-old Russian.
There is a caveat attached to that statement. Any team giving Semin a chance should offer him a one-year deal that is heavy on incentives.
Semin’s last two contracts were for one year; during the 2011 season he made $6 million, while during the 2012 season he pulled down $6.7 million. I could see a general manager giving him a contract that, with incentives, earned him in that range, but as far as a base salary, anything approaching that number would be a mistake.
If a team does sign Semin expect it to be a team with a no-nonsense coach and GM. Semin is not the type of player that will work in a system that is led by a “player-friendly” coach.
Semin has to see the writing on the wall by this point. No one wants him for a long-term, big-money contract and he has no one to blame for that but himself. It’s time for him to put all the small stuff behind him and act like he wants to be part of an NHL team.
The first step to doing that is signing a short-term deal and playing nice for the entire 2013 season. If he can do that, there’s no doubt that he will earn a long-term deal next season.
The other option is he sits and waits for the long-term deal that never comes this summer, quietly slinks back to the KHL and is forever remembered as a player that could have achieved so much more.