From Alzner to Wideman, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2011-12 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2012-13. Next up, Alexander Semin.
#28 / Left Wing / Washington Capitals
Key Stat: Semin's 2.30 even strength points-per-60 was the second-highest production rate on the team during the regular season.
Interesting Stat: Semin appeared in 77 games this season, marking just the second time in his career - the first coming in 2006-07 - in which he missed no more than 5 games in a single campaign.
The Good: 2011-12 was something of a tale of two (or even four) seasons for Semin. About halfway through the year he seemed to find his stride - either as a result of the coaching change or simply as a happy coincidence in concert with it. En route to his sixth consecutive 20+ goal season, Semin picked up 26 points in the last 32 games, including 10 in the season's final 10 games that helped determine whether the Caps would even make the playoffs. In fact, from December 9 to the end of the season (a span of 53 games), only twice did he go more than two games without registering a point.
Semin may not have put up the points he usually does but he was still a factor offensively, and finished the season on for more even strength goals than any other forward. On the defensive side he continued to quietly be somewhat underrated, as he tied Brooks Laich for the team lead with 52 takeaways and was on for just 2.46 GA/60 at even strength, among the lowest GAON/60 of any of the team's "top" forwards.
Always a vicious opponent for division rivals, Semin continued his Southeast dominance with 9 goals against the division; his points-per-game rate was actually better elsewhere in the conference, however, with 17 points in 19 games against the Northeast Division. That carried over into the Caps' first round matchup against the Northeast-winning Bruins, with Semin scoring goals in three consecutive games - two of them on the power play (which accounted for almost a third of the team's total production with the extra man in the playoffs).
The Bad: Semin's career with the Capitals has been plagued by inconsistency and injury, which has often resulted in wistful musings about his untapped potential - "if only he could stay healthy, imagine what he could do". Well, for the first time in recent memory Semin managed to stay mostly healthy, missing just a handful of games... unfortunately, the inconsistency remained. As hot as he was in the second half of the season and first round of the playoffs, that's how ice cold he was to start and end the year, and the production that the Caps needed (and that his contract would imply) often wasn't there.
Semin scored just seven goals through the first 30 games of the regular season, largely contributing to the fact that he just barely cracked the 20-goal mark by the end of the year - and resulting in his lowest goal total since his rookie season when he played just 52 games. Another culprit? Lack of production with the extra man (although granted, that was a team-wide malaise for most of the season), as Semin scored a career-low two power play goals - a mark he would match in just five playoff games en route to a less-than-stellar four postseason points, with just one in the second-round loss to the Rangers.
And while it's become something of a trend for him to occasionally disappear in the postseason (hey, there's your consistency!), this was bad even for him; the four points he accumulated through fourteen games was the second-lowest postseason total of his career, and just a fraction of his total points the last time the team played through two rounds.
Of course while Semin may not have put up the gaudy numbers that we're used to seeing in one part of the scorecard, he certainly made up for it with gaudy numbers in other areas... just maybe not the kind you want to see. He finished the year tied for the team lead in penalties taken per 60 minutes, serving forty of his fifty-six penalty minutes in the first thirty games of the season (including an impressive mid-November run in which he took penalties in seven straight games). And while no one's questioning the awesome shot he possesses, had he hit the net more often he might have been able to pad those offensive numbers; instead he fired 98 shots high and/or wide, second-highest on the team behind Alex Ovechkin.
The Vote: Rate Semin below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Discussion: What do you think factored in to Semin's strong second half of the season? On the flip side, what do you see as being the reason for such a slow start (and finish)? If the Caps were to re-sign Semin this summer, what type of contract would you be comfortable with? Do you think the Caps should try to retain him for one more year, or has the time finally come for the team to part ways with their longest-tenured player? And finally, if he sticks around, what will it take for him to earn a 10 rating next year?