Today, the Montreal Canadiens, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, waived former Capital Alexander Semin after a lackluster 15-game stint that saw the enigmatic right winger score just one goal and four points. The 31-year old Semin was once one of the NHL’s promising young players, scoring a career-high 40 goals and 84 points in the 2009-10 season. But since he departed Washington after the 2011-12 season, Semin has fallen…far
Drafted by the Capitals as one of three first-round picks – the others being Boyd Gordon and Steve Eminger – with the the 13th overall selection, Semin was ranked the second-best European skater by NHL Central Scouting. Immediately one of the team’s top prospects, Semin’s future in Washington looked bright. Semin’s NHL debut did not happen until 2003-04, when he played in 52 games; he showed promise early, scoring 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists). The next season was canceled due to the lockout, and his availability for the 2005-06 season was erased, as he was required to serve some time for the Russian army. When he finally returned to D.C., Semin made an impact and never looked back: in 2006-07 he tallied 38 goals, 35 assists, and 73 points in 73 games.
Upon his permanent arrival in the District, Semin had instant chemistry with fellow Russian Alexander Ovechkin. They, along with defenseman Mike Green and center Nicklas Backstrom, became the core of the Caps and were called the Young Guns. Semin’s second full season (2008-09), saw his production dip, scoring 42 points (26 goals, 16 assists) in an injury-marred 63-game season. The next season saw the Capitals explode as the league’s best team, winning a franchise-best 54 games and earning 121 points. Semin, along with many of his teammates, had a career-year, scoring the aforementioned 84 points. Though a valuable member of the team, Semin’s work ethic began to be questioned; a habit of taking I’ll-advised penalties and gliding through the neutral zone did not help matters. However, many fans don’t realize that former head coach Bruce Boudreau employed Semin on the PENALTY KILL, where he scored short-handed goals every now and then (video says shootout, but it’s a shorty!):
After Semin and the Caps experienced the dismissal of Boudreau early in the 2011-12 season, new head coach Dale Hunter brought many changes to the Capitals, including a defense-first mentality. For the offensive-hungry Semin, it wasn’t a match made in heaven and though not ideal, still managed a respectful 54 points (21 goals, 33 assists) in 77 games. After the season, Semin’s contract was expiring and then-general manager George McPhee did not offer him a new deal. The veteran’s lack of effort and habit of taking penalties had worsened and he was accused of not being a team player. Semin waited a few weeks before he signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. After a fairly productive year, Semin was handed a monster seven-year, $35 million contract, which he was bought out of this past summer. He signed with the Canadiens and soon became a healthy scratch more often than not.
So what happened to the man affectionately known as Sasha? Well, for starters, he wasn’t the most-outgoing person: he rarely, if ever spoke with media and tended to keep to himself. But it may be that Semin has played his final game in the NHL and it’s certainly a shame. For someone as talented as Semin, it could be that he has never found the chemistry with other players that he had in Washington. It’s truly a far fall from grace for a player that once seemed as though he could become one of the most-dangerous players in the NHL.
By Michael Fleetwood