The signing of Alexander Semin late last week came as a surprise to many. While there’s no denying his talent, there’s also no denying that he had a terrible 2013-14 season. Do our writers think his poor showing was a fluke or a sign of things to come?
Simon Aronson: Adding Alex Semin to the Montreal Canadiens was a perfect low risk, high-reward signing by Marc Bergevin. With the salary and term both being so low, the Canadiens are exposed to virtually no risk. If for whatever reason the arrangement is not working out it will be no sweat to let Semin sit or put him in the minors and the team can be free of him the following season. The short term on the deal is also favourable for the Canadiens because it should provide Semin all the motivation he could ever need because if the coming season turns out to be a dud for him it could be his last in the NHL.
With the salary being so low, I would have to think that anything over 15 goals for Semin this season would have to be considered a home run, and if everything does fall into place for him and the team, it is not inconceivable that he gets 30 goals, which he has done three times in his career thus far. Despite all the talk about a young player, such as Scherbak, McCarron, Hudon, or Carr making the jump to the NHL and playing a significant role for the team this coming season, it is in all likelihood unreasonable to expect a rookie to join the team and score 20 plus goals in their first year. Extra offence is exactly what the doctor ordered for this team and adding Semin allows for that possibility at a steal of a deal price without having to rush one of the young guys into the lineup.
Matt Dilworth: When Alex Semin’s name is mentioned, 3 things come to mind: 1) elite-level offensive talent, which is unfortunately paired with, 2) inconsistent, and sometimes indifferent play, and 3) his embarrassing “fight” against Marc Staal in 2009. And although only one of those items is positive, I think that there is still reason enough to be cautiously optimistic about the Canadiens’ latest acquisition.
It is well-known that Semin’s career has been plagued by injuries, and last season’s dismal results would suggest that this might have been a big factor. If Semin is moderately healthy and can regain even 50% of his scoring touch, he’ll be well-worth the meagre $1.1M that Montreal is paying him. At that price, and with the Canadiens needing someone besides Max Pacioretty to create offence, Semin is a low-risk, high-reward candidate.
Given that this could be Semin’s last shot at remaining in the NHL, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a motivated Semin show a vast improvement over last year’s numbers. Alternatively, if he’s useless, and/or his reportedly bad attitude and work-ethic prove detrimental to the Canadiens’ locker room, then Semin can be shipped to the AHL with barely an impact on the team’s salary cap (only $150,000); there are no realistic scenarios in which Semin’s presence poses a significant risk to Montreal’s aspirations.
Brian La Rose: While there is certainly reason for optimism when it comes to Semin besting his performance from last year, expectations should be kept in check. Yes, he should beat the 19 points he had with Carolina but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a floater and that floaters tend to get a very short leash with Michel Therrien.
Semin does bring a dimension to the table that the Canadiens really covet, raw skill, particularly in terms of goal scoring (assuming his wrist will be back to full health). There aren’t many natural scorers on this team and any time you can add one for as low a price as this, you have to take it.
As has been said plenty already, it’s a low risk move with the potential for a major payoff if Semin suddenly rediscovers his 30 goal touch. I don’t that happening though; it’s almost a certainty that he’ll be in the doghouse on more than one occasion this coming season. Nonetheless, it’s a good gamble to take for Montreal.
Alex Létourneau: Ah God, really? That’s how it went when I saw the headline. These types of players go from hero to villain in this town on next to nothing. I mean, he was bought out in Carolina, which isn’t exactly rolling in money, so the need to get rid of him must’ve been dire. Last season was abysmal, granted on a team that wasn’t good, but still. Those numbers are alarming.
It’s not all negative, I suppose. He’s proven he can score in the NHL and if he has the puck in the slot, he can bury it as well as most in the league, which is what the Canadiens needed on the wing. At one year and $1.1 million, the price is certainly more than fair. I’ll admit I like all these one-year ‘show me what you’ve got’ deals Bergevin has been doing. This will be the barometer for Semin to see if he has the heart to play. It’ll certainly show when he goes through a cold patch and the fans and media are on him.
Paul MacLeod: To me, this move is typical of Marc Bergevin. It is low risk with the potential for high reward. If Semin fizzles his salary can mostly be buried in the minors. If, however, he comes in motivated and determined to bounce back, he has the talent to be a scoring force for the Canadiens. Some fans and pundits might argue that this move goes against Bergevin’s stated intention to leave a spot open for a rookie, but I see it as ensuring that there is high level, veteran competition for every spot. If a rookie beats out Semin that’s fine too – there will have been little ventured for the potential of a big gain.
Craig Scharien: As usual, Marc Bergevin’s next move caught everyone completely off guard, and as usual I’m having a hard time finding major problems with it.
On a one year contract at just $1.1 million, signing a player of Semin’s ilk poses literally no risk to the long-term health of the organization. A scoring winger with size (6’2, 210 lbs) and a wicked shot may be just what the doctor ordered to help the Habs’ ailing power play and it also gives Montreal rather impressive depth at right wing – Semin/Gallagher/Kassian is nothing to sneeze at.
It may be the nostalgic side of me, but I can’t help but be reminded of Alex Kovalev joining the team way back in 2003-04. An enigmatic, Russian winger with size – sounds familiar. Kovalev went on to tally 264 points in 314 games with Habs and fell in love with playing in front of the fans in Montreal. Here’s hoping the hockey-mad crowds at the Centre Bell can have similar effect on Semin, if so we may be in for a real treat.