All Habs Hockey Magazine is proud to provide a platform for young guest writers to express their views on important issues.  Today, we present a piece on the impact of the Canadiens recently-acquired sniper Alexander Semin (Syomin).  Your comments are welcome.


by Wyatt Hope, Guest Contributor, All Habs Hockey Magazine

GEORGE TOWN, CAYMAN ISLANDS — When Alex Semin was bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes, a 7-time 20-goal scorer was put on the free agent market. Most NHL teams were not interested in Semin because they thought he was to much of a gamble. They all passed on him, all but one. The Montreal Canadiens signed Semin to a one-year deal worth $1.1 million in late July.

Semin is one of the league’s most unreliable players. While his point totals are fairly similar year-to-year with the exception of 2014-15, a 19 point disappointing season. It’s his play from game-to-game where his inconsistency is most evident. Ex-Hab Jose Theodore, now a TVA analyst, said that Semin is one of the most skilled players with whom he has ever played.  Theodore even went so far to say that he ranks Semin’s wrist shot over the one by former Semin teammate Alexander Ovechkin. Semin seems to lose concentration over the season and this contributes to his unreliability.

The longest non-entry level deal Semin signed with the Washington Capitals was two years. Perhaps this was the Capitals’ way of keeping Semin motivated as he was forced to work for his next contract. In Semin’s first year in Carolina, he signed a one-year deal worth $7 million. It was his most productive year with the Hurricanes, he scored 44 points in 44 games, hitting the point per game mark for the third time in his NHL career.

Then Carolina made the mistake of handing him a 5-year, $35 million contract. This led to Semin becoming unmotivated and losing his focus — his point totals began to dip. In the first year of his massive contract, Semin’s point totals slipped to 42 points in 65 games. The next year, 2014-15, was a disaster with Semin putting up just 19 points in 57 games, resulting in him being a healthy scratch at times.

On July 1st, Carolina GM Ron Francis announced that the Hurricanes would buyout Semin’s contract. Francis said, “I like Alex as a person but for whatever reason it just didn’t work out. We have talked about accountability and level of compete and we didn’t think Alex was giving it.”

In discussing his decision, Francis acknowledged Semin’s talent, saying “I think he could help almost any team in the league. I think he can be very productive. I hope for Alex’s sake that he does and that he picks it up, it just wasn’t going to happen here.”

Will it happen in Montreal?

I believe that this one-year deal will help bring out the best hockey that Semin is capable of playing. Maybe playing in a hockey mad city or playing for a contender will motivate the player to bring out the best in Semin. This would be the best case scenario: Michel Therrien uses the sniper in the way a scorer is meant to be used and Semin contributes 20+ goals to the Habs. The other way that Semin’s season plays out is that he gets in Therrien’s dog house early and never gets his chance to prove himself.

I believe this is a good signing by GM Marc Bergevin.  There is very little risk involved in bringing Semin to Montreal but there is the potential of a lot to gain. If Semin scores five goals, he is allowed to walk to free agency after a one year contract.  But if Semin scores 20 goals, the Canadiens may want to re-sign him to another one-year deal, or having proven himself, letting him sign a multi-year deal with another team.

Either way, Alex Semin will provide an interesting storyline this season. What do you think?