Seriously, that may be the best headline that will every appear on this site.
Now, let’s get down to business.
Rumors from some unknown Russian source have been flying around the internet that Alexander Semin is “close” to signing a 1-year deal with the Penguins. There are only two things that we actually know in all of this madness:
1. Josh Yohe from the Trib tweeted the following: Alex Semin’s agent, Mark Gandler: “No question, playing in Pittsburgh would be great. Alex would love to play with either Malkin or Crosby.”
2. Pens Head Coach Dan Byslma stated today at Prospect Camp: “Alexander Semin has scored 40 goals in this league. He is a dangerous player. You know when he’s on the ice. He’s been dangerous on the Capitals’ power play. Where they fit and the possibilities are things Ray Shero is looking at, we’re looking at as a staff.”
The Pens are looking at Semin, but how closely and seriously they are as to negotiating signing Semin is unknown.
I am on the bandwagon that wants Semin. Hear me out on why.
As a Capital, I cannot stand Alexander Semin. When I first heard the rumor of Semin coming to Pittsburgh, my gut reaction was “No way do I want this clown on my team.” But it only took a few minutes to start warming up to the thought of Semin in the black and Vegas gold. The reward outweighs the risk if the Pens pursue and execute integrating Semin into the Penguin culture and team strategy.
Semin has averaged as high as 1.15 and 1.27 points per game in a season. He has been a 40 goal scorer. His wrist shot is deadly and he has defensive prowess. After putting up an 84 point season in 73 games, the only NHL team he has ever played for gave him a one-year extension on his contract. How much motivation does Semin have at continue performing for the Capitals? His captain is a primadonna. His GM and owner allow said captain to do as he pleases without consequence because he is “the best player in the world.” The team suffers, clearly, under the leadership of Alex Ovechkin until Dale Hunter comes in as head coach and puts a more defensive system in play.
Semin starts to improve under Hunter’s new system and role as a disciplinarian. Not in the sense that he punished players, but he didn’t let the patients run the asylum. He forced the team to be productive by using reinforcement: If you aren’t going to work hard, you can sit on the bench and play less minutes. If you are going to be productive and use your ice time well, you can play.
The Penguins can offer Semin an environment where he can flourish as a player. General Manager Ray Shero and HC Byslma (along with owner Mario Lemieux) are NOT going to tolerate a piss poor attitude and work ethic from Sasha. On top of the fact that Semin would wing for more elite players, such as Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, which according to his agent, is of interest to Semin. Sasha has played alongside Malkin in Russia and in the 2010 Olympics. He knows very well what playing with a guy like Geno could mean for his career.
Look at this goal Semin scored just this past season:
Semin’s wrist shot. James Neal’s wrist shot. Crosby’s backhand. Geno scoring impossible goals. I think this is a risk worth taking.
I’d sign Semin to two years, but I’d lowball him on the offer. Incentive for him: Let’s see how year one works out. If all goes well, he behaves, he plays the way we all know he is capable of playing, they can talk contract extension summer of 2013 for something more long term. If not? Trade him or just let his contract run out and he can go packing back to the KHL or wherever he pleases in free agency.
Other rewards: The jokes. Oh. My. God. Bob Errey and Paul Steigerwald, who are already extremely inappropriate in their color commentary now could deal with the play on words with Semin? Dear God, let this happen.
Bongos. What if the Pens are playing the Rangers and Semin goes ape shit on someone we actually don’t like, like Brandon Dubinsky?
**Edit to note** After speaking with a reader, it is important to note that THIS above here, is the ONLY fight that Alex Semin has engaged in in his entire NHL career (Debuted in the NHL in 2003-2004 season). One fight. This here is the exception, not the norm.
Then there is the possibility of photoshops…
Anyway. Reward is worth the risk on this signing. The Pens waited patiently on Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Now they are likely waiting to hear about an offer to Shane Doan. While Doan is a fine player, we could have Semin in his prime, pairing him with two players who will elevate his game if he plays his cards right. I wouldn’t wait on Doan. He seems to be in no hurry to make a decision about his future. I’d go after Semin.