By Alexander Monaghan
Now that Alexei Kovalev no longer holds a stick in the NHL, who will be the new, Russian whipping boy? Nikolai Zherdev? Too easy, and also an expatriate. It must be the enigmatic, inconsistent Alexander Semin.
Former teammate Matt Bradley, now of the Florida Panthers, expressed his feelings towards Semin and the Washington Capitals as a whole today. To say the least, there will be hard feelings when the Caps host the Cats on October 18th. Nevertheless, Bradley, according to Lindsay Applebaum of The Washington Post, claimed Semin “just doesn’t care.” Bradley continued to say Semin didn’t show up when Washington needed him in the playoffs. Note to self: don’t select Alexander Semin in next season’s DailyFaceoff.com-sponsored playoff pool.
While Bradley may be telling the complete truth, not caring has still led to 26 or more goals in every post-lockout season. So are we to ignore the skills and take the advice of a grinder? Definitely not, but pray other managers in your league believe the non-story.
Semin managed 28 goals last season to go along with 54 points of not caring. Yes, these totals are down from his previous season of 40/44/84, but so were his games played. Injuries marred most of his season to the point that owners regretted taking him in the second or third round. Regardless, this player is still the same Alexander Semin capable of scoring 50 goals before the end of his career; so why not try him on a buy-low scenario this next season.
Neil Greenberg of The Washington Post predicts Semin puts up a 26/31/57 line this upcoming season mainly due to the decrease in scoring League-wide. From The Washington Post:
Semin, 27, is an essential piece of the Capitals’ offense, but elite goal scorers are becoming an endangered species. Only five players scored 40 or more goals last season, and there have been only 19 skaters with 40-goal seasons in the last three years.
Greenberg notes that scoring has decreased so our 28 goals likely falls somewhere around where it did this past season — tied for 34th overall. If you predict all 34, or maybe even 33 of those skaters are forwards and then divide by the average, 12-team league and you can figure Semin will be the third-best forward on your team. In other words, take him in the fourth round if he is still available.
The Capitals will continue to be a force next season, with The Hockey News predicting their Stanley Cup victory. Ride the team as much as you can with an under-appreciated asset like Semin leading your team to victory.