First, his ice time was significantly reduced. Then he was benched. Now, he has been a healthy scratched. Given recent events surrounding Washington Capitals winger Alexander Semin, it seems probable that the Russian is set to be traded and shipped out of the District any day now.
Inevitably, the online world has been set alight with speculation and predictions about where Semin might end up, and what the Caps might get in return for him. Countless reports have emerged about potential trades as journalists all over the NHL have scrambled for information regarding Capitals General Manager George McPhee's plans.
One thing appears to be certain: The Capitals are actively shopping Semin around the league and are getting plenty of interest.
These are five deals that the Capitals could conceivably make involving the Russian.
Blue Jackets acquire: RW Alexander Semin
Capitals acquire: C Antoine Vermette + RW Cam Atkinson + 2012 Second-Round Pick
It seems one of Semin's biggest problems in his NHL career is that he has never fully been given the opportunity to play alongside his club's best forwards. He has never had the opportunity to fully assert himself as an elite first-line player.
That would change in Columbus.
The player drafted as a left-winger would return to the position he grew up with, finding himself next to Jeff Carter and Rick Nash on what would become one of the league's best lines.
The struggling Blue Jackets have wanted a pure goal scorer for a while, and though they may have to make another move to accommodate Semin's monster $6.7 million contract, they would gladly accept him.
The Caps' best line so far has been their third, consisting of Jason Chimera, Brooks Laich and Joel Ward. It has served to shut down their opponents' top lines, while doing its bit chipping in offensively.
With his unique combination of speed, skill, smarts and defensive awareness, Quebec native Antoine Vermette would only serve to make that line better. Meanwhile, Laich would move up the depth chart to become more of an offensive threat on the second line.
The Caps also get bright prospect Cam Atkinson—who is entering his first pro season with the AHL's Springfield Falcons after a stellar college career—a great pick in the deep 2012 NHL draft, as well as some much needed salary cap relief.
Red Wings acquire: RW Alexander Semin + D Jeff Schultz
Capitals acquire: LW Dan Cleary + D Jakub Kindl + 2012 First-Round Pick
It was heavily rumoured this past offseason that the Detroit Red Wings took a hard run at Alexander Semin, but that the Caps did not oblige. They lack top-level skill players on their wings, and it seemed Semin was a good candidate for them.
His acquisition would allow them to recreate a phenomenal first line, the 27-year-old being put alongside superstars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. With their cap space, the Red Wings would also be able to bring in defenseman Jeff Schultz, who would add good size and depth at defense. He excels on the penalty kill and in shot blocking—both areas where the Wings could use help.
While many might see this as a losing trade for the Caps, it is in fact quite the opposite. They pick up versatile winger Dan Cleary, one of the most honest and consistent players in the league. With a Stanley Cup under his belt, he would also bring some much needed experience and leadership to the Caps' lineup. Assuming Mike Knuble eventually climbs back up the depth chart, this trade would help build a strong second-line of Cleary, Marcus Johansson and Knuble.
In addition, the Caps pick up one of the best young defensive players in the league in Jakub Kindl, who would take Schultz's spot and eventually replace Roman Hamrlik in the lineup. They'd also receive a good first-rounder in the 2012 draft.
Kings acquire: RW Alexander Semin + D Patrick McNeill
Capitals acquire: RW Dustin Brown + D Willie Mitchell + 2012 Third-Round Pick
The Kings are another team who have been seeking a goal scorer to put on their first line to play alongside top center Anze Kopitar. Semin has long been thought to be the perfect option for them.
The enigmatic Russian winger would have every chance to succeed in LA, being given superstar duties. The Kings also lack top-tier defensive prospects, but pick up AHL star Patrick McNeill as a makeweight in the deal.
Winger Dustin Brown appears to be on the trading block in LA, and the Caps would love to have him. A hard-hitting captain, Brown is exactly the kind of player you'd like to see on the wing of the Caps' Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Bäckström line.
Both teams are close to the cap, and as this would have to be a buck-for-buck trade, the Caps would need to take on the contract of defenseman Willie Mitchell. A veteran, he brings good depth defense as well as experience to the locker room.
The Caps would continue to build on their 2012 draft stock in compensation.
Predators acquire: RW Alexander Semin
Capitals acquire: LW Sergei Kostitsyn and RW Austin Watson
The Nashville Predators' biggest problem in recent seasons has without a doubt been a lack of goal-scoring prowess. They have found themselves in the bottom half of the league in terms of goals scored in the past three seasons, as well as through the first 17 games of this season.
They are desperate for first-line talent. Semin would instantly provide that for them.
On the other side of the trade, the Caps get one of the NHL's fastest developing players in Sergei Kostitsyn. If he is able to reach his full potential, the highly-talented Bulgarian projects as a player who can fill the offensive hole left by Semin's departure without the defensive liabilities and penalty tendencies. Given the chance to play alongside the likes of Marcus Johansson and (in the future) Evgeny Kuznetsov, the 24-year-old could really shine.
The Caps also pick up 2010 first-round pick Austin Waston, a smart, energy-line forward who is perfect for the team the Caps are looking to build. Likely a couple years away from the NHL, Watson would be given the chance to grow in the elite Hershey Bears program before eventually making the jump to the big leagues.
Islanders acquire: RW Alexander Semin
Capitals acquire: RW Kyle Okposo
The New York Islanders are a team looking for a shake-up. They sit down near the bottom of the league and are looking to add some new flavour to the lineup.
They would have a hard time finding a better option than Alexander Semin. The Russian would add a whole new dimension to their roster, bringing his package of skill and all-around offensive flair to a team thin on it.
Again, Long Island is a place where he would be expected to run the offense, and alongside a player like John Tavares, Semin could really break out and max out his potential.
The Caps are another team seeking to change the look of the team, and bringing in winger Kyle Okposo would certainly do that. It is no secret the former first-round pick is on the trade block, as the Islanders are looking to send away the struggling forward. He brings a very different game to that of Semin, with his size and strength being some of his strongest traits.
The gritty but skilled 23-year-old would be given the opportunity to win a spot alongside Ovechkin and Bäckström, but ultimately could find himself alongside Johansson to make an outstanding second line in Washington.
Follow Jake Ware on Twitter at @JacobWare95