NHL Trade Rumors: 8 Reasons Washington Capitals Should Keep Alexander Semin

Ryan DavenportContributor IAugust 2, 2011

NHL Trade Rumors: 8 Reasons Washington Capitals Should Keep Alexander Semin

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    For the last two seasons, countless fans and analysts have called for the Washington Capitals to trade sniper Alexander Semin.  

    Since breaking into the NHL in 2006-07, Semin has established himself as one of the league's most dangerous scoring threats, though he has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency, especially during the Postseason.  

    While he's capable of changing the outcome of a game on any given shift, Semin's apparent lack of desire during clutch situations has made him a poster boy for the team's shortcomings during the Playoffs.  

    However, players of Semin's calibre are hard to find, and with the Capitals looking stronger than ever entering the 2011-12 Season, the team would be well-advised to hang onto the enigmatic Russian for at least a little bit longer.  

    Here are the top eight reasons why George McPhee should keep Semin in a Capitals jersey, at least for the time being.  

8. The Trade Market for Semin Isn’t What It Was a Year Ago

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    Though Semin has been one of the most prolific goal scorers of the post-lockout NHL, he isn't the hot commodity on the trade market that he once was.  

    His lackluster efforts during the Playoffs and lengthy regular season scoring droughts have made him much less desirable than most three-time 30-goal scorers in the NHL.  

    While Capitals' General Manager George McPhee could surely fetch a First Round Pick in exchange for Semin, if the 28-year old has a fast start to the 2011-12 Season, the offers for Semin's services would only improve.  

7. If His Play Doesn't Improve, the Team Could Let Him Walk Next Summer

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    As things stand today, Alexander Semin is set to become an Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1st, 2012, and unless he makes a statement with his play this season, the Capitals will probably let him test the market.  

    McPhee and the Capitals have given Semin rich one-year extensions during each of the passed two seasons, with the hope that the streaky winger would earn a long-term deal with more consistent play.  

    However, seeing as Semin hasn't done enough to date to merit a big-money, multi-year contract, whether or not he receives an extension at all likely hinges on whether or not he can up his game this year.  

    The Capitals are stacked up front, so they can afford to lose Semin next summer, especially with Evgeny Kuznetsov appearing ready to assume a top-six role in the near future.

6. Scoring Depth Is Critical During the Postseason

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    While Semin's play during the Postseason has been anything but spectacular for the most part, he's still an extremely dangerous offensive player, which are important to have during the most important time of the year.  

    Looking back at the last three Stanley Cup Champions, the Bruins, Blackhawks and Penguins all boasted three lines that could score at will, as they each had a variety of offensive weapons.  

    Currently, the Capitals have just two pure goal scorers in Alex Ovechkin and Semin, so losing one would probably hurt more than most people realize.  

    When Ovechkin is neutralized by the opposition, Semin is often the player who steps up, so until Ovechkin becomes the dominant goal scorer he was up until the second half of 2009-10, it may be in the team's best interest to hang onto Semin.  

5. The Ovechkin Effect

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    It's no secret that Semin and team captain Alex Ovechkin are very close friends, and Ovechkin has consistently backed his countryman when blamed for the team's disappointing showings in the Playoffs.  

    So, if Semin is dealt, what effect will that have on the Capitals' leader and best player?  It's impossible to know until a trade actually materializes, but when considering the fact that Ovechkin is a player whose performance depends a great deal on confidence and emotion, Semin's departure could be ultimately detrimental to the team's play.  

    Ovechkin believes that this Capitals squad can capture the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 2011-12, with Semin playing a large role in the process.  If the team's management opts to move his friend and sometimes-running mate, it's unclear how Ovechkin will react to the news.  

4. August Is No Time to Panic

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    After an Offseason that saw the Capitals add a number of key pieces to their Stanley Cup puzzle, why would the team be itching to move one of their most valuable assets before Training Camp even starts? 

    For the first time since Bruce Boudreau took over as Head Coach in 2007, the Capitals are deep at every position, so McPhee and Washington's management team should be looking forward to seeing what their newly-assembled lineup can do.  

    If the team doesn't perform up to its potential early in the season, then it may be time to consider moving Semin, but until then, the Capitals should be pleased with the squad they'll be icing for the start of the 2011-12 campaign.  

    McPhee has demonstrated an ability to pull the trigger on blockbuster deals when needed, but August is not the time to be moving a two-time 38-goal scorer.  

3. Washington Struggled to Score in 2010-11

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    For the first time in four seasons, the Capitals had great difficulty scoring goals in 2010-11, so the team should be looking for ways to jumpstart the offense.  

    Trading Alexander Semin is not the answer in that regard, as he's at times the team's most dangerous scoring threat.  

    Without Semin, the Capitals would need to find a way to replace the 25-40 goals he produces each season, which would be a daunting task for a team that finished ninth in the Eastern Conference in goals for last year.  

    Semin may not be the most consistent sniper in the league, but he is a big part of the Capitals' offense, and after having dealt Tomas Fleischmann and Eric Fehr, the team will need his soft touch around the net more than ever.  

2. Semin Gives the Team Two Lines That Can Score at Will

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    Unlike most NHL teams, the Washington Capitals have the luxury of being able to ice two lines that are capable of striking fear into the eyes of opposing goaltenders.  

    The Caps' first line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble is clearly one of the most intimidating in the league, but with the emergence of Marcus Johansson, the team's second line is almost as scary.  

    Johansson should be flanked by Semin and a capable power forward like Brooks Laich or Troy Brouwer, which gives Washington two legitimate top-flight scoring units.  

    While Semin is obviously capable of generating offense on his own, he'll have more help than ever before as he now will be paired with a centerman who can create opportunities with his speed.  

    The Caps had difficulty icing a quality second line due to injuries in 2010-11, so if Johansson and Backstrom can stay healthy, Semin will be skating alongside a very skilled, two-way pivot.  

1. Snipers of Semin's Calibre Don't Grow on Trees

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    While many fans of the Washington Capitals will tell you that the team would be fine offensively without Semin, most don't realize how rare players with Semin's skill level and ability really are.  

    In 2009-10, Semin finished seventh in the league in goals with 40, and has ranked among the top-20 on two other occasions.  

    It's not everyday that a team can lay claim to two of the best scorers in the game, and until this Capitals team demonstrates it can score at an elite level without Semin, they need to keep him in the fold.  

    Semin may never become a great two-way player, or even a consistent performer, but there's not a team in the league that wouldn't want a potential 40-goal scorer on their roster.