MONTREAL, QC- The Montreal Canadiens have signed right-winger Alexander Semin to a one year contract for $1.1 million.
At 31 years old, Semin is coming off is disastrous season where he only put up 6 goals in 57 games with the Carolina Hurricanes. For a goal scorer like him, that is the lowest total in a season of his NHL career in which he has scored 20-or-more goals seven times.
Part of it might be due to his wrist injury suffered in 2014 that required surgery and a long-rehab. Semin says that he was totally recovered from his injury last season, but for a goal scorer that relies so much on his wrist shot, it is possible to wonder if that injury was still bothering him last season. If you look even further back, Semin also suffered a concussion in late-2013. Without making excuses for his terrible season, his immense drop in production could have been a health issue.
At $1.1 million, this signing is risk-free and the potential reward is very high. If Semin can be relatively good by his standards, he will automatically inject some much needed offense into the Habs lineup, especially coming from the right-wing position in which the Canadiens lack offensive depth.
Semin comes in town with a reputation of being a skilled-but-lazy type of player that only cares about scoring goals. To have seen him play a lot throughout the years, I do not think that theses assessments are entirely true.
Semin is a better play-maker and passer than people give him credit for. His 275 assists in 635 NHL games supports that fact. In fact, he has more assists than he has goals (238).
I do not exactly peg him as a lazy player that is hard to coach or play with. Actually, from what I’ve heard, Semin is a very good teammate and has recently improved his defensive positioning. In fact, his ex-coach Kirk Muller greatly praised his defensive and play-making skills, saying that he was surprised that there is such a bad reputation following Semin.
Last season, after a mediocre season, GM Ron Francis cited that Semin didn’t play with enough effort and that the Hurricanes would be buying him out. His reputation might be worse than it really is, but there is probably a part of it that is deserved.
Although, that is a source of concern, it also is the reason why Semin was signed to a cheap contract this late into free agency. Not many teams wanted to take a chance on him, but with the Canadiens lack of offense, this moves makes sense in many ways. He will have to prove himself and show that he is motivated to perform. If he does not, then his place will be filled by a younger player within the organization. The Canadiens just signed a player that was paid $7 million on average just last year for a million. For me, it sounds like this is a good gamble.
I think that even at this stage of his career, Semin still has one of the best shots in the league. This is a player that isn’t that far removed from terrorizing opposing goaltenders with his wrist shot. I am convinced that his speed and his shot will be a very valuable asset to this Habs team. At the very least, he will bring some excitement in a city that has a history of love affairs with goal-scorers, when they actually do what they do best.