Alexander Semin: Pros and Cons of Pittsburgh Penguins Signing the Russian Star

Allan SmithContributor IIIJuly 15, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07:  Alexander Semin #28 of the Washington Capitals slides on the ice into the boards after incident against the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 7, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Alexander Semin has been public enemy No. 2 amongst Washington Capitals here in Pittsburgh since the Penguins and Capitals rivalry was renewed after the lockout.

This offseason, the Russian sniper has become an unrestricted free agent, and he is one of the top offensive players remaining unsigned. Combine that with the fact that the Penguins have plenty of cap room and a need for a top six winger, and the rumors begin to swirl.

Reports out of Russia have the winger signing with the Pens, yet he has a history of being lazy, taking shifts off and a reputation that is one of the worst in the entire league. Many believe if he came here and played with Malkin or Crosby he could reach 40 goals again while others point to the fact that he was playing on a team with Nik Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin and seemed uninterested in the game.

I will explain the pros and cons of having the goal scoring winger sign with the Pens.




Scores Goals

Semin has scored 187 goals since the 2006-07 season, including seasons of 34, 38 and 40. These aren't Steve Sullivan numbers, to say the least. Semin is one of the best snipers in the game when he is on, and placing him on a line with Crosby or Malkin could cause his goal totals to increase to even greater heights.


Could Fit in With Crosby or Malkin and fill a huge void

Neal, Kunitz, Dupuis and an empty slot. Those are the top six winger spots as of right now. Giving Crosby or Malkin a toy like Semin to fill that hole is about the best move the Penguins could make without having to make a trade and give up valuable young players.


plus-93 since 2008

While Semin's carelessness is well-documented, the man does have a +/- of plus-93 since the 2008-09 season. While +/- is a team stat for an individual player, it does go to show that he hasn't cost his team very much defensively while he is on the ice.


Provides Secondary Power Play Scoring

Crosby-Kunitz-Neal-Malkin-Letang creates one of the best power-play units in the entire league. Yet, as us Pens fans know, the second unit needs to improve in order for the power play to rank as high as it should and so that the first unit doesn't need to play the full two minutes on every power play. Brandon Sutter figures to center that unit, but he needs someone that can finish. Enter Semin, who has scored 55 career power-play goals, far more then anyone else on that second line.




Lackadaisical Play

Former Pens and Capitals forward Matt Bradley once questioned whether Semin even cared about hockey at all, a supreme insult from another player, especially a former teammate. Semin is known to take shifts off and doesn't respond well to adverse conditions. Would playing on a line with Malkin, a fellow Russian, or Crosby inspire Semin to give it his all? It's hard to tell.


Defensive Ineptitude

Even though Semin does have that pretty +/-, it is well known that he is a liability defensively. He is known to not care much about this aspect of the game. For a team that was just run out of the playoffs because of defensive problems, this isn't something the Pens need in a player.


Public Criticism of Crosby

This is the article where Semin questioned Crosby's ability, saying that he isn't a very skilled player, just someone who dumps and chases, makes decent passes and deflects goals into the net. Kind of an awkward start for two guys who would likely be line mates if Semin were to sign here.



Semin comes with plenty of baggage, but on a one year deal, he has huge upside and could provide the Pens with another scoring winger, which they are sorely lacking. A multi-year contract, however, would be too big of a risk for someone who has the question marks that Semin does.