There isn't any doubting Alexander Semin's skill set.
The 6'2", 210-pound right winger was the Washington Capitals first-round draft selection in 2002, taken 13th overall.
Now playing in his sixth season in Washington, Semin is currently second in scoring for the Caps with 18 goals and 33 points.
Semin has chipped in six power play goals and added a shorthanded tally as well through his first 32 games.
After receiving an NHL league fine for cross-checking Colorado Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles during last Saturdays 3-2 loss to Colorado, Semin, along with his Capitals teammates, were pounded 7-0 by the New York Rangers Sunday night in what was clearly a frustrating night for the Capitals.
The Capitals have lost six straight games including the 7-0 embarrassment on Sunday night in New York against the Rangers.
Although there are reports that Semin loves playing hockey in DC along with friend Alex Ovechkin, the introverted native of Russia could be playing his last season with the Caps.
When his one-year deal worth $6 million ending at the conclusion of this season, Semin will become an unrestricted free agent. Semin's agent Mark Gandler has already said publicly that they would listen to offers from the Caps first, the reality is that Semin could cash in handsomely on the open market.
The Caps have Mike Knuble, Brooks Laich, Matt Bradley and newly acquired Scott Hannan as UFA's along with Semin for next season.
Add the Semyon Varlamov as a RFA, and the Caps salary situation looks like it might be tight. They currently have $1.5 million available, and there is discussion that the NHL will increase the cap by as much as $2 million for next season.
If the Capitals continue to struggle, Semin and others might be the trade bait that Caps general manager George McPhee dangles in an effort to shake this team up.
The Caps have done well with their draft selections over the last few years and their minor league system continues to be the place that develops their young players into NHL-caliber players. Under general manager George McPhee, the Caps are one of the premiere talent developers in the NHL.
With talent development comes assets.
Some of these assets could be sacrificed for immediate help. Moving a few along the way will still encourage players in the organization that they might one day play in Washington or elsewhere in the NHL.
However, this club has lost in the first round of the NHL eastern conference playoffs over the last two seasons, and this season is proving to be an interesting climb for a club with so much promise.
Should the Caps consider trading an asset like Semin, there will be teams interested in the right winger.
These are five teams that likely will sell the farm for to acquire Alexander Semin.
New Owner. New Outlook.
The Coyotes will continue to change.
Eventually they will be known as the Arizona Coyotes and finally find a decent name for their arena in Glendale.
So why not go after Alexander Semin?
The Coyote's have roughly $10 million in cap space available.
Does that mean they have $10 million to spend? Maybe.
The remaining amount that would left on Alexander Semin's $6 million contract between now and the trade deadline being an affordable amount to the Coyotes.
The question remains, are the Coyotes interested?
In return the Capitals could find assets that help their team now and possibly long term. The Caps have a great minor league system and are one of the premiere talent developers in the NHL.
The Coyotes have Radim Vrbata, Scottie Upshall, Ed Jovanovski and Ilya Bryzgalov as UFAs at the end of the season.
RFA's Kyle Turris, Keith Yandle and Sami Lepisto will need new deals as well.
With two players Ray Whitney and Adrian Aucoin on two-year deals and being 35+ years of age, the time for a player like Ed Jovanovski could come to an end.
With Keith Yandle's development and rookie defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larrson in the wings, the Coyotes could begin to lean on these younger players with the veteran support of Aucoin and Derek Morris.
The fact that Coyotes management will likely offer a long-term deal to Yandle will solidify the fate of Aucoin and Morris.
Add the talents of affordable players like Martin Hanzal and the Caps find their need at second line center. Hanzal has another season at $1.8 million before becoming an RFA.
Alexander Semin RW, Mathieu Perreault C and Philipp Grubauer G to Phoenix for Ed Jovanovski D, Martin Hanzel C, Scottie Upshall RW and third round selection in 2011.
From the Caps point of view: Jovanovski and Upshall will be able to add to the depth of this club and also be able to provide the offensive mind set that this club employs.
Hanzal should address the second line center issue and the lose of Semin would be found through other line combinations, including Upshall and Marcus Johansson and Andrew Gordon.
This would be Eric Fehr's time to prove he can play big minutes and play in big situations.
Grubauer is ranked fourth in the organization, behind Varlamov, Neuvirth and Holtby.
Grubauer is in his final year playing junior with Kingston (OHL). Adding Mathieu Perreault along with this deal makes room for Hanzal.
From the Coyotes point of view: Semin gives the team a top line star along with team captain Shane Doan. Should the Coyotes be able to sign Semin, his impact would be felt for seasons to come.
Grubauer should have a chance to work towards being an NHL player. Bryzglaov is looking towards a long term deal and Grubauer will have time to develop.
Perreault is a player who Coyotes coach Dave Tippet could help bring into full-time NHL employment.
If Semin elects to be a free agent at season's end, the Coyotes still have to be able to add a young goalie and a player in Perreault, who is on the border of being a dependable every day NHLer.
The Caps could elect to let Jovanovski and Upshall walk if things don't work out. Last season Caps GM McPhee made moves that added to the teams depth for their playoff run (Eric Belanger, Joe Corvo, etc.), but adding key players like Jovanovski, Upshall and Hanzal could prove to be more beneficial and prove other sources of offence and toughness.
A young team looking for success.
The Los Angeles Kings have been a club that has certainly preached patience and commitment to their young players, but let's not forget that they were reportly close to signing Ilya Kovalchuk to a large, long-term deal this past summer.
This club recently acquired Marco Strum from the Boston Bruins at minimal cost, adding a player who, when healthy, can prove offense and veteran leadership.
If the Kings feel they need that "Kovalchuk" type player, Alexander Semin could be the bridesmaid the Kings are looking for.
The Kings have a finally healthy Justin Williams, Strum (if he passes medical), Wayne Simmonds playing right wing. Recently recalled Oscar Moller is seeing time on the RW as well.
Adding a player of the magnitude of Semin would help spark this clubs power play and 5-on-5 play.
What would be the cost of acquiring Semin and still being able to compete in the NHL's Western Conference?
LA Kings are a lot like the Washington Capitals.
They have drafted well and continue to develop NHL-caliber players, so why bother to trade?
Both clubs have immediate needs and both clubs need those corrected sooner rather than later.
The Kings have over $4 million in cap space remaining, but have some players like Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson, Oscar Moller and Wayne Simmonds in need of new deals for next season. All are RFAs and Simmonds and Moller are coming off entry-level deals much like emerging defenseman Alec Martinez.
However, Michal Handzus, Justin Williams, Alex Ponikarovsky, Marco Strum and dependable Peter Harrold are UFAs at season's end.
Handzus and Williams are big components to the Kings' success, while Ponikarovsky and Strum are those players brought in to help support the club. Should things not work out then they'll be sent packing.
Alexander Semin RW and Washington's third round selection in 2011 to LA Kings for Wayne Simmonds RW, Rob Scuderi D, Andrei Loktionov LW/C and LA Kings 1st round selection in 2011 should LA sign Semin.
From the Caps point of view: Simmonds and Scuderi fit right into the Caps roster. Simmonds is a hardworking player whose work ethic alone can inspire his new teammates. Should benefit more for the Eastern Conference style of play by being physical and adding offence, Simmonds is extremely underrated and maybe undervalued.
Scuderi is one of the defenceman who helped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup and the type of player that would be needed to get this club out of its first-round funk.
Loktionov is another player who could provide some great two-way play at the second line center position for the Capitals. He is able to play minutes on the second half of the power play and skates very well.
From the Kings: Power play and top six minutes await Semin where ever he may land. Although the Kings need a left winger who brings the type of game Semin brings to the right side, Semin in a Kings uniform makes a lot more sense than adding a player such as Kovalchuk.
Kings Captain Dustin Brown is more than capable to play on the right wing. Add that Simmonds would be gone should this deal occur, opportunity for Oscar Moller and Trevor Lewis to stick with the Kings.
Giving up a first round selection is the price of doing business. It would ultimately come down to how much Kings GM Dean Lombardi is will to give up from the parent team's roster.
The Edmonton Oilers are a team heading in the right direction.
With young players like Taylor Hall, Marcus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle supported by the likes of Shawn Horcoff, Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky—the Oilers look towards a promising future.
What would the odds be on landing Alexander Semin as a free agent next July?
That might be hard to say.
Why not trade for Alexander Semin?
The Oilers have for years been rumored to be interested in players like former star Jaromir Jagr and made a big acquisition by getting Nikolai Khabibulin in the offseason.
A player of Semin's skills would be a nice addition as this team moves forward.
The Oilers have newcomer Ryan Jones, Steve MacIntyre, Jim Vandermeer and Jason Strudwick as the only UFAs heading into next season.
It's decision time with RFA's Andrew Cogliano, Zack Stortini and Ladislav Smid.
Veterans Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner are on the books next season for $4.1 million and $4.25 million respectively, as well as another $4 million for defenseman Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney.
For right now, the Oilers have over $13 million in Cap space.
Alexander Semin RW and a draft selection in 2011 or 2012 to Edmonton for Kurtis Foster D, Andrew Cogliano C and Dustin Penner RW and Edmonton's fourth round selection in 2011.
Jeff Schultz is injured and Tom Poti seems injured almost all the time. Adding Scott Hannan was a great move to shore up the defensive defenseman spot on the back end.
Kurtis Foster is underrated defenseman that could provide that extra power play option as the playoffs wear on.
Cogliano is in need of new scenery and DC could provide a new spark. Cogliano has world-class speed and "Rocking the Red" under the guidance of Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau could ultimately bring Cogliano's game around at the NHL level.
Dustin Penner gives the Caps the power forward to work with Ovechkin or on the second unit if desired and also allow this club to have a new dimension as far as their top six forwards are concerned.
A deal like this continues the Oilers along their rebuilding plans and adds a proven young player who could still be here when the organization is back on its feet.
Capitals GM George McPhee might need to make another deal to fit under the salary cap. Other components of this deal could be added with the Oilers taking a player back with Semin in exchange for a draft selection.
Columbus Blue Jackets and the Washington Capitals have dealt before and might deal again.
After a good run earlier into the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets have slid down the Western Conference standings and are currently 12th. The Blue Jackets are 2-5-3 in their last 10 games.
The Blue Jackets could use the services of a player like Semin and have the cap space to not only acquire him, but offer a long-term deal should Semin commit after this season.
Jackets have UFAs in former Cap Chris Clark, Ethan Moreau, Andrew Murray, Jan Hedja and Mathieu Garon after this season.
They have Jakub Voracek, Kyle Wilson, Tom Sestito and Anton Stralman as RFAs.
With All-Star captain Rick Nash, Semin could potentially add that extra offense that this squad needs.
It would take the pressure off of players like Voracek and ultimately add to the young players development.
In my opinion, Semin would fit in well within the Blue Jackets top six forwards; however, there will be a price to pay to land such a dynamic player.
Columbus has over $5 million in cap space. The clubs ownership has limited what they can do and have set an internal cap.
Sources say that it could be expanded if a "special" player became available.
With Semin's 2010-11 $6 million contract pro-rated for the balance of the season, it might be in Columbus' best interest to see if Alexander would be that fit.
Antoine Vermette C, Kris Russell D and Nikita Filatov RW/LW to Washington for Semin RW.
Columbus will have a powerful top line in Nash, Brassard and Semin.
Columbus general manager Scot Howson will be giving up a good center in Vermette, but adding Semin could outweigh the fact that Voracek would still be a Blue Jacket.
The ties that bind would be for Howson to lock-up Semin before July 1st. Trading away Vermette could prove costly should Semin go elsewhere during free agency. Another idea would be to move Semin again if things couldn't be worked out.
Another center could be brought in during free agency or through another trade. Time might be now for young players like Kyle Wilson and recently drafted Ryan Johansen.
The Caps would have a second line center that would be able to play a more two-way game that is desperately needed.
Russell is an underrated puck moving defenseman and Filatov would continue to be a project with huge upside potential that Caps GM McPhee might be willing to take on and place in Hershey.
While just over the cap floor in terms of salaries, the St. Louis Blues are a young team that has realized that injuries can hamper your club's ability to win.
After early season success, the Blues find themselves sitting 11th in the tight Western Conference standings.
Add the recent rash of injuries to key players in TJ Oshie and Andy McDonald, and the Blues have effectively stalled, while struggling with a 3-5-2 record over their last 10 games.
While this club is placing opportunities onto others in the organization to shoulder, they can also hamper player development.
This club has a core group of players at forward like Alexander Steen and David Backes that they have committed to long term.
Other players like Andy McDonald, Brad Boyes and Jay McClement still have another year or more left on their deals.
The potential for this club to continue its forward progress could be aided by the acquisition of a player of Alexander Semins' ability.
Two young impact players in TJ Oshie and Patrick Berglund will be coming off of entry-level deals at the conclusion of this season. Veteran defenseman Eric Brewer is scheduled to be a UFA.
Whether the Blues management realize it or not, they will be shelling out more dollars next season to keep both Oshie and Berglund long-term.
There might be an opportunity here to acquire Semin, sign one of those young players coming off entry-level deals and provide a more offensive dynamic.
Patrick Berglund C/RW, Brad Boyes RW and second and third round draft selection in 2011 to Washington for Semin RW and Karl Alzner D
St. Louis has multiple players who can play center, and some of them could excel in that role.
David Backes is signed long term and has been moved to center from the wing and vice versa during the season with success.
Alexander Steen is another player who can play center and routinely quarterbacks the point on the power play.
McClement is very sound two-way center who could benefit with more offensive assignments; McClement scored his first career hat trick earlier this season.
Add a healthy Andy McDonald and TJ Oshie, and the Blues have a good crop at center even without Berglund.
Washington would have a young center who could continue to grow with Ovechkin and co., while Boyes offers that extra offensive punch and veteran leadership within the top six forwards.
Two high draft selections would allow Capitals GM McPhee to continue building through the draft, a key component to the Capitals recent success.
In the non-salary cap NHL, Semin would be on many teams radar. The fact of the matter is that he is coming off a one-year $6 million contract, and the price to sign Semin long term, should another team acquire him, could be a big cost commitment.
If the Capitals feel that Semin is the player that they feel they want to commit to long term, then they will need to make room.
Either way, Caps GM George McPhee has some tough decisions to make over the next few months.
One former Cap who has flourished after leaving DC is Tomas Fleischmann. Recently acquired by the Colorado Avalanche for defenseman Scott Hannan. The opportunity for Fleischmann to go to a team and play bigger minutes and in bigger situations is what he needed.
Ultimately the Caps have a proven scorer in Semin, which is hard to ignore, let alone tough to deal.
In the end any deal involving Semin should be of an epic proportion. The Salary Cap era is quickly reminding us that there are struggles with developing good young players just as there are to trade for them.
It's my belief that GM McPhee will deal Semin only if there is a good balance of assets that can help the Caps now and in the future.
I think the Phil Kessel deal between Toronto and Boston has certainly set a president in the salary cap era in terms of return on trades involving top line players.
We shall wait and see how the Capitals handle this.
Mike MacDonald is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and covers the Nashville Predators and the NHL.