FanPost

Should the Caps trade Alexander Semin?

 

When players stay within an organization for some time (especially when they're good too), it feels tough to come to terms with the fact that they've moved. Take, for example, Olie Kolzig. He was in a Capitals uniform since the mid-90s and was the go-to guy in net until the 2008 trade deadline (GM George McPhee traded for Cristobal Huet). But with the salary cap, sometimes it is not possible for teams to hang onto players they may otherwise want to. Alexander Semin may be one such player.

 

More after the jump.

 

Alexander Semin was drafted 13th overall in 2002 by Washington. Here are his NHL stats since then:

Season

Team

League

GP

G

A

P

PIM

+/-

03-04

Washington

NHL

52

10

12

22

36

-2

06-07

Washington

NHL

77

38

35

73

90

-7

07-08

Washington

NHL

63

26

16

42

54

-18

(playoff)

7

3

5

8

8

2

08-09

Washington

NHL

62

34

45

79

77

25

(playoff)

14

5

9

14

16

-1

Why the Caps should keep him:

He's good: Semin overall has been getting better each season. His goals per game projected over 82 games in 2008-2009 comes out to 45 goals, which would've tied him with 3rd that season in goals with Zach Parise, one behind Jeff Carter for 2nd, and his points-per-game average over 82 would've had him 3rd with 105, just ahead of Sidney Crosby. He was arguably the Capitals' best player during their 2008 first-round loss to Philadelphia and their first-round win over the New York Rangers in 2009.

He can be the best: Even more impressive is that Semin's play dropped off when he got injured; before he got hurt, he was the league leader in goals, points, and plus-minus, and for most of that time he was playing on a line with Sergei Fedorov as his center. His 13 goals project out to 67 over 82 games, his 27 points to 138, and his +20 to 103. He probably cannot play that same way over an entire season, even if he stayed injury-free, but nevertheless the sky clearly is the limit with Semin, especially if he's used on the PK.

Playoff monster: Semin's puck control skills, terrific release, and Datsyuk-ian takeaway style are invaluable in a playoff series. He was arguably the Caps' best and most consistent player in the 2008 playoffs and the 2009 first round. He also led the NHL in playoff goals and points through one round. When the games are most important, Semin shines.

Secondary scoring: He is good friends with Alex Ovechkin and only Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are better than the Caps' duo down the left wing if Semin is playing well. The fact that they normally play on different lines also poses problems for opposing teams, as they have to contend with two threats. Detroit handled Crosby but could not handle Malkin in the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals, a major reason why the Penguins prevailed.

He is also a human drumming-literally-machine.

Why the Caps shouldn't keep him:

Penalties: Semin takes the ill-advised restraining foul all too often. One of the most blatant examples of this was his dive for the puck that ended up tripping Daniel Alfredsson in the 3rd period of a 2-2 hockey game against the Senators on January 20, 2009 (Ottawa scored on the resulting power play to win the game). And we all know that for some reason bad penalties cost your team (or seem to) more often than they should.

Injuries: Semin gets injured. He missed 19 games in 07-08 and 20 more in 08-09. What's more, he got injured in the 2009 postseason. It's very likely that if he was 100% for the Caps' second-round series against Pittsburgh that a different team would have been hoisting hockey's holy grail in June. And he's never as good after the injury as he was before

Salary: Semin also could cost a lot of money, and with the salary cap going down, it may be more important for the team to look, say, for a center to replace Brendan Morrison (or re-sign him) and be the "bridge" to Anton Gustaffson or Marcus Johansson (although I hope this player will be more effective than the last player George McPhee signed to fulfill such a role).

            The Capitals have 10 NHLers (as of 2009 postseason) locked up for 2010-2011 at about $30 million. With early estimates seeing the salary cap drop $5 million, I'm setting the salary cap at $51 million. I've played the role of George McPhee and re-signed some players for that season too, outlined below.

Nicklas Backstrom: $6 million

Brendan Morrison: $2 million

Eric Fehr: $750,000

Tomas Fleischmann: $2 million

Boyd Gordon: $800,000

Jeff Schultz: $1 million

Chris Bourque: $700,000

Tyler Sloan: $700,000

Additions to the NHL roster:

Karl Alzner: $1.675 million

John Carlson: $850,000 (rounded)

Salary total: $46.475

Keep in mind Semin in this scenario is still unsigned with roughly $4.5 million in cap room.

Center is more important: As a final point: The 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins did not have a superstar 1-2 punch at wing. The 2008 Detroit Red Wings did not. The 2007 Anaheim Ducks did not, nor did the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes. But all these championship-winning squads were solid down the middle. Crosby, Malkin, and Jordan Staal for the Pens is one obvious example. We see the same pattern with other "contenders."

For more, check out Pepper's Rink Wrap from this past year on Semin.

Should the Caps keep Alex Semin, and for how long? (note poll question is different from title)

If this FanPost is written by someone other than one of the blog's editors, the opinions expressed in it do not necessarily reflect those of this blog or SB Nation.

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