The Carolina Hurricanes made big news on Thursday afternoon by signing free-agent Alexander Semin to a one-year, $7 million contract. The news, as seen on NHL.com, boosts a Carolina offense that finished 16th in the NHL in total scoring during the 2011-12 season.
The announcement ends Semin's seven-year stint with the Washington Capitals where he accumulated 197 goals and 211 assists (408 points) over the course of 469 games.
Semin's one-year, $7 million contract is a slight raise over the $6.7 million the forward made in 2011-12. The move marks the third consecutive year that Semin has signed a one-year contract, with the other two coming with the Capitals prior to 2010-11 ($6 million) and 2011-12 ($6.7 million).
The immediate reaction to Semin's contract was surprise not because of where he signed or the length of the deal but because of how much money the Hurricanes ended up paying. Keep in mind that Semin's 2011-12 season saw him score just 21 goals (his lowest total since 2003) and just 54 points. How often do you see an NHL team pay a guy that has tallied 54 points in each of the past two seasons $7 million? How often does a player receive a raise after a noticeable decrease in production? Hardly ever.
The other questions that surround Semin's signing relate to his work ethic. Russian skaters have notoriously been stereotyped as being reluctant to help out on defense and are accused of taking key shifts off during a game. Semin is guilty of both stereotypes, rarely tracking back in pursuit and often loafing on shifts. Still, the offensive talent is undeniable - when Semin is locked into the flow of the game.
The Hurricanes must feel that a change of scenery may be what Semin needs to get back on course. Only three seasons ago, during the 2009-10 season, we saw Semin tally 40 goals. The Hurricanes are hoping that a move to a new club and a new cast of teammates may once again light the spark that saw Semin put up some of the best offensive numbers in the league. Semin and the Hurricanes believe they may have a fit that will produce better results than the ones we saw in Washington which includes an improved work ethic with and without the puck.
This deal could be considered a moderate risk for a big reward. Seven million dollars is no small sum but it might be worth it if Semin can finally put a bit more punch into the Carolina attack. Last year Eric Staal led the Hurricanes with 24 goals. Semin nearly matched that mark last season in a year that most would describe as the worst of his career. At the very least Carolina will be off the hook after 2012-13 concludes if this experiement fails.
Will Semin's signing be enough to lift the Hurricanes out of the Southeast Division's basement? That point remains to be answered but it probably won't hurt their chances. At the very least we'll all be able to enjoy six regular season games between the Hurricanes and Semin's old team, the Washington Capitals.
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Something to be said for being an unrestricted free agent on the open market, I suppose. For those same 54 points, plus a great two-way defender, the Blues locked up T.J. Oshie for a bit over 4M a year. Granted, they're not by any means the same player, and Semin has, in the past, proven his ability to score goals in bunches, so we could say that Carolina is hoping that he recaptures his form and makes up the difference between being a 4M player and a 7M player thereby.
I'll admit, I don't follow the Eastern Conference as closely as I do the West, so I'm not fully conversant in what else Carolina has done to try to improve this offseason. Still, when a team is last in its division, unless the hole was between the pipes, they'll need to bring in more than one player to get back on track.
@miendiem They actually have a pretty interesting group up front now. Eric Staal andJordan Staal are an interesting story as is. Add in Jeff Skinner, Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu and the newly signed Alexander Semin and you suddenly have an abundance of things to watch. As things are now on paper I'd imagine they should improve on their 16th ranked offense.
Unfortunately, they allowed 237 goals - 25th in the NHL. The offense should click a bit better but the defensive unit still has question marks.