The Habs were hoping to add a top six piece this offseason and they hope they’ve done so with Alexander Semin. While he was a major threat in past years, he wasn’t with Carolina. Which Semin will Montreal get?
Last season was an absolute disaster for the 31 year old. Actually, that’s probably underselling it somewhat. From a health standpoint, he was on IR twice while he missed time due to some sort of ailment on four separate occasions, sitting out 16 games as a result.
Then there was the extreme inconsistency, both in terms of production and effort. As a result, Semin, Carolina’s second highest paid player, found himself bouncing up and down the lines at the best of times while sitting in the press box at the worst of times, something he did nine times.
One area of extreme disappointment was his complete lack of production with the man advantage. He had all of four powerplay points (all assists) in nearly 86 minutes of ice time, or roughly one PP point per 21:30 of PP ice time. Compare that to Montreal’s forwards from their lousy power play last season:
Desharnais: 11 in 196 minutes, 1 point per 17:45 of PP TOI
Eller: 2 points in 36 minutes,1 point per 18:00 of PP TOI
Galchenyuk: 12 points in 178 minutes, 1 point per 15:00 of PP TOI
Gallagher: 8 points in 200 minutes, 1 point per 25:00 of PP TOI
Pacioretty: 11 points in 206 minutes, 1 point per 18:45 of PP TOI
Parenteau: 4 points in 125 minutes, 1 point per 31:15 of PP TOI
Plekanec: 16 in 180 minutes, 1 point per 11:30 of PP TOI
About the only positive that can be taken from that as a Montreal fan is that at least he beat the player he was replacing, P-A Parenteau.
The end result saw him post career lows in goals, assists, and points by a considerable margin, leading the Hurricanes to initiate one of the most expensive contract buyouts in NHL history.
Season Stats: 57 GP, 6 goals, 13 assists, 19 points, -10 rating, 32 PIMS, 0 PPG, 0 SHG, 0 GWG, 93 shots, 15:55 TOI
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are pro-rating all of 2012-13’s numbers over a typical 82-game year.)
In a perfect world, Semin plays to his talent level all season long and fits in perfectly on the top line. Does anyone actually expect that to happen though? Probably not. So, where does he fit in?
Given the volatility in his game-to-game efforts, it’s safe to assume that Semin will be up and down the lineup depending on how much ‘motivation’ Michel Therrien and the coaches think he needs. What should work for him though is the fact he can play both wings; that should help keep him in the top six more often than not.
As for special teams, despite his lack of PP success (which wasn’t just a one year aberration; the most PP points he has had in the last four years is 12), Semin should find himself on one of the top two units. As a natural scorer on a team that doesn’t have many of them, he could be an intriguing weapon for Montreal’s man advantage.
Let’s get the easy part out of the way first. He’s not playing all 82 games this coming season. He may not even get close to that. Semin has a long injury history and is almost guaranteed to be benched for so-so effort at some point.
Given that he’s highly likely to bounce up and down the lineup makes him a risk-reward play in Fantasy Hockey. If he’s on the top line alongside Max Pacioretty, Semin is a useful player to have in the lineup. If he’s playing with Torrey Mitchell and in the doghouse, he’s not going to be any sort of threat. That makes him a tough player to rank for a draft.
Despite there being considerable upside (if he plays to his potential, 50+ points is a definite possibility), I wouldn’t rush to draft him. There’s a decent chance someone drafts him based on his time with Washington and if that happens, he’ll go too early. Once you get past the middle rounds and onto your third and fourth line wingers though, Semin should be an intriguing candidate. There is going to be risk no matter where you pick him given how awful he was last year but at that stage of the draft, it’s probably one worth taking.
Despite the fact that the Habs are a team that isn’t going to score a lot, Semin should have at least somewhat of a bounce back season. If he stays healthy and interested, he will be an impact player. That’s a big if though, one that I don’t expect to happen. At this stage, I have him pegged for lower end second line production. That may not seem exciting but that’s an upgrade on what Parenteau provided and a bargain at his cap hit.