Thursday, May 29, 2008

2007-08 Rink Wrap: Alexander Semin

From Backstrom to Steckel, we're taking a quick look at and grading the 2007-08 season for every player* who laced 'em up for the Caps during the campaign (and is still with the team) with an eye towards 2008-09. Next up, Alexander Semin.

Contract Status: 2008-09 salary of $4,200,000 (cap hit of $4,600,000); RFA after 2009-10 season
Age (as of October 1, 2008): 24
NHL Seasons (including 2007-08): 3
2007-08 Regular Season Stats: 63 games played, 26 goals, 16 assists, -18, 54 PIMs
Key Stat: Semin had the second most goals on the team.
"At Least He Was Consistent" Stat: Semin had 12 goals, 8 assists and a minus-nine rating in 31 games before the All-Star break and 14 goals, 8 assists and a minus-nine rating in 32 games after the break.

The Good: Semin was second on the team in goals and power play goals, second in shots per game (2.9), and lead the team in shootout goals (including the clincher in Pittsburgh on January 21). He was 22nd in the League in goals per game (among players who played at least 54 games). Once he shook off a lingering ankle injury, Semin hit his stride - over the second half and change of the season he had 24 goals in 47 games (a 41-goal pace over the course of a season), including a six-game point-scoring streak in January and a five-game goal streak in February. Semin had seven goals and five assists in 18 regular season games following the acquisition of Sergei Fedorov and was arguably the Caps best forward in the playoffs with three goals, five assists, and a plus-two rating while playing probably the most inspired hockey of his career.

The Bad: A year after finishing second on the team with 38 goals and 73 points, Semin dropped to fifth on the team in scoring (his points-per-game dropped from .95 in 2006-07 to .67 in 2007-08) and played in 14 fewer games due to that ankle injury. His minus-18 rating was the second-worst mark on the team (and tied for 19th-worst in the League), he had only 20 hits all season, the worst takeaway-to-giveaway ratio of any Cap forward (third worst overall), and the fifth-fewest assists per minute of ice time on the team (better than only Milan Jurcina, Donald Brashear, Eric Fehr and Shaone Morrisonn). Semin had the second-worst goals against per sixty on the team and the third-worst plus/minus per sixty on the club and the most minor penalties of any Caps forward (by a wide margin, and the most minors per game by an even wider margin) thanks to 13 hooking minors (good for sixth-most in the League).

The Vote: Rate Semin on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential 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 Questions: With which center would you most like to see Semin work for the 2008-09 Caps? What will it take for him to earn a 10 rating next year?

If you've missed any of the previous 2007-08 Rink Wraps, click here, get caught up, and vote - polls will stay open for a while.

* And by "every," we mean every one who played more than just a handful of games.


JP said...

Alright, I'll kick off what I expect to be perhaps the most interesting vote and discussion of all of these Wraps (outside of maybe Kolzig).

Simply put, after a 38-goal season and despite the flashes of brilliance, the injury and the stepped-up playoffs, I don't see how you could not be disappointed in Semin's season on the whole. I gave him a 4 with the caveat that I believe we may very well look back on this Spring as truly transformative in his career development, which would more than make up for a "low" goal total and horrid plus/minus.

Natty Bumpo said...

hoping he really did turn the corner late in the year. showed flashes of being a really special player, and continued to impress at the world championships.

can't help but smile remembering his open ice hit on eric staal.

all that said, the stats (particularly the terrible plus/minus and ALL THOSE PENALTIES) really shouldn't be ignored. i gave him a 5, factoring in his playoff showing and also remembering that dumb penalties were not new to semin's game in 2007-2008.

hotdog88gt said...

Trade fodder will Semin be.

NS said...

he's a keeper if he continues the play and development he showed in the last quarter and playoffs last season.

i don't know how to score him since it feels like he had 2 completely different season last year. the first 20 games of 2008-09 will be VERY telling.

the deuce said...

I give him a 7 because you ask that we rate him "relative to his potential." This guy has incredible potential. The problem is, he's a knucklehead. One game, or even one shift, he'll be unbelievable, skating and dangling and sniping like Bure in his prime. The next, he'll be sulking and lagging behind the play and, worst of all, taking a lazy hooking penalty at the beginning of his shift when the Flyers forwards have been on the ice for two and a half minutes and are so exhausted all they want to do is get to the red line and dump the puck into the zone to change. Sorry, had to get that off my chest. And plays like that are exactly why Semin can be such a detriment, and why the coaches can't completely trust him. IF he can stop being a knucklehead and marching to the beat of his own drum, he'll be an unbelievable asset to this team. He's such a skilled player it's unbelievable. I've never, ever seen a wrist shot as quick and HEAVY as his. It's harder than some guys slappers, I swear. Frustrating to watch, I hope this is the year he turns the corner and gives his all every game. BTW, he was voted one of the NHL's biggest wimps by his peers in an ESPN survey.

b.orr4 said...

Like Nylander, it's hard to evaluate Semin beacuse of the ankle sprain in training camp which had him playing catch up the first half of the season. Clearly, he's the most gifted offensive player on the team, but his spurts of laziness, careless passes and bad penalties (his hook on Richards might have cost the Caps game seven) are hard to overlook. I can't give him more than a five, but the way that he came on in the playoffs and the Worlds tells me that the light bulb may have finally come on. If he brings that kind of passion to all 82 games, he's easily capable of a 50 goal, 90 point season. In terms of centers, I'd love to see him paired with Feds (assuming he's signed) but I wouldn't be surprised if he starts with Nylander. To me, this is Semin's make or break season here in DC. Another so-so year and he could be gone to the vast wasteland of Edmonton.

Shaggy said...

It's kind of amazing that Semin had better production last year "freelancing" than he did with dedicated linemates and the supposed steadying influence of Nyls and Feds.
The injury (a severe one at that), the juggling of pivots/lines, and a generally lower hockey IQ kill him on many nights - but he's learning. And that's encouraging.
I give him a six - if he hadnt been injured, I'm sure his season would have been very different.

~Mark said...

I gave Semin a 7 for the season. Even though his point production was down, his game began to round out significantly after the trade deadline. That points to who I'd like to see him with all season... S-Fed.
His play in the Philly series, and his WC play, erase any questions about his ability to play in more physical, high-pressure situations.
It's scary to think that 2008-2009 could be his break-out season.

Dave said...

how does anyone give him a 7 or 8? he really had a better year than you thought he would?!!


NS said...

he gets a +2 on whatever score he deserves for the comedy factor

Tyler said...

Yeah, and that's pretty much the only way Semin's ever going to be a plus player. ;-)

bill ball said...

What Japers said. I love watching the kid, but man, what a frustrating player. Hopefully the post season (and the worlds) have previewed what is to come.

Unless there are further injuries next season (knock on wood), it's almost a given Semin's points will make a return to form working with one of possibly three world class centers.


1) Based upon his disappointing regular season (compared with expectations) couldn't give more than a 3.
2) However it was a very positive sign that he played his best in the post season when many would have thought he'd disappear entirely.
3) To secure a 10 next season he'd have to challenge Alex for team goal scoring, and at least reduce the minuses. He'll probably continue to frustrate fans with his ability to make some of the most amazing plays one on one, then do something colossally stupid on the same shift

NS said...

i want to see him drop kick somebody on the ice.

bigonetimer said...

I rated him a 5, and it's only because he stepped it up in the playoffs. I know the injury didn't help, but he did not improve his game defensively (in fact, he regressed). The stick fouls have got to go, and that's more about hustle than anything else. BB must pound that in to him.

But he definitely grew up in the second half and and he ramped it up for the playoffs. Overall, it's a very promising harbinger for the Caps, and if healthy, I see a 40/40 season for him.

Clearly he has great chemistry with Backstrom (who doesn't?), but I think he needs to have Nylander or Feds as his center and a banger on the right like Clark

breed16 said...

3 for the regular season, 8 for the playoffs. That's a 5.5 (I voted twice).

Semin was the first Cap to "get it" in the playoffs. He showed a mean streak I didn't know he had in him. And it was so awesome - no, satisfying - to watch. I don't know the first-hand joys of watching your own child take his first step, say his first word, score his first goal in instructional...but I imagine it was something like how I felt watching Semin against the Flyers. The boy is becoming a man! ESPN ought to re-do that "biggest wimp" survey.

Debcapsfan said...

I gave him a 7 even though he kills me sometimes. I would love to see Fedorov here for a full season to mentor him. I think his game could rise to a new level. I'd like to see him play with Clark (if he recovers) I think you need some grit on his line and someone who can backcheck when he falls down.

usiel said...

I gave Semin a 4 just because the stats are down because of the early season injury which slowed him. Much of that bad minus play was early in the season with Nylander who I believe didn't have a very good either and the team as a whole was obviously bad.

As breed mentioned Semin really blossomed in the playoffs and was probably the first young forward to really step up like this. He then followed this by having a great WCs which I'm hoping bodes well for his play this next season.

I've come to the conclusion that Semin is going to always be a fan whipping boy at this point. He is by no means a complete player but IMO there has been some steady improvement. He's a great compliment to have on the 2nd line as an offensive counterpoint to AO though considering how well they played together at the WCs I'd be tempted to see that line again. The few times we saw them play together this past season they seemed to overpass and be too 'nice' in that aspect.

Sombrero Guy said...

5. His regular season was probably a 4 as he definitely performed below expectations for most of the season. He seemed to come alive in March and was a beast in the playoffs.

If he wants a 10 next year, nothing less than an 80 point season, less stupid hooking penalties and displaying the same passion he showed in the playoffs will suffice. I think they kid can be a top 20 forward in the league if he decides he wants to.

Brian said...

I gave him a 6 = 5 for the season + 1 for the nickname "Rabbit". Semin did what I expected of him, score goals. Not as much as last year, but others have commented on reasons. I've seen too many Russian forwards not play defense to expect it from Semin.

The NHL needs to teach players to give better nicknames to their teammates. Nicknames that are nothing more than first syllables with an "s" added or a last name with "ey" added are lame. We need old-school names like "Chopper" and "Tiger" and "Godzilla". "Red Jesus" is a great one. "Rabbit" is good to, but it could be pushed a step further, ala Dennis Miller. "Thumper" could mean a hard checking forward, or a Disney tie in, or some alleged adult story only his teammates really know about.

Anyway, Rabbit is better than Semin-ey (which kinda sounds pornish too) so I gave him that extra point.

JP said...

@ SG: There's no reason he can't be - of the top 25 goal scorers over the past two seasons (he's #19), Semin is 13th overall in goals per game. He is, without question, an elite goal scorer.

[And in case you're wondering, the dozen names ahead of Semin are Alex Ovechkin, Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla, Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Gaborik, Vincent Lecavalier, Henrik Zetterberg, Evgeni Malkin, Thomas Vanek, Jason Spezza, Marian Hossa and Daniel Alfredsson. That's some nice company.]

Anonymous said...

"i want to see him drop kick somebody on the ice."

That made me snort soda outta my nose.

JR said...

I think the 4 I gave him is quite generous. What he did in the playoffs was nice but 16 assists in the regular season and -18? That's horrific. Semin is now in the 4.6M per zip code, so anything worse than 40/40 is a disappointment. Two years until RFA and I don't see us resigning him. Too one dimensional a player for that kind of money. I'd be open to trading him sooner than later if the market is there.

bigonetimer said...

here's some of his company (under 30 LW) at about 3-5M:
Martin Erat, Brenden Morrow, Erik Cole, Simon Gagne, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Zetterberg

yikes. He had best pick it up next year.

Scott said...

I gave him an 8 because he sure was fun to talk about. I mean, every game we were either talking about his non-existance, his stupid penalties, his inability to stand, or his amazing plays. I thought he really stepped it up in the playoffs and I hope that's the Semin we see in the future.

JP, i hate that you use the word consistent (i know you're referring to his points, but still and this is probably your snarky way to make fun). If anything, his season was characterized by inconsistency. Anyways, that's all I got

JP said...

I was just noting the statistical split. I agree, of course, that he was wildly inconsistent from game-to-game (and even from period-to-period on some nights), but I think that "the injury" is an over-used excuse for his sub-par season, and the split stat sorta shows that.

JmF said...

Semin is probably the most talented player in Washington's lineup - just wish he would live up to that.

He was a force in the playoffs and hopefully that was just a small taste of things to come.

Lisa said...

I'm surprised at some of the high scores but that's part of the fun. Yes, he was injured and picked it up in the playoffs which bodes well for the future but oh, those hooking penalties and the atrocious plus/minus, not to mention the falling down and general wimpiness for most of the year. I kept thinking someone needed to slap him and scream "you're in the NHL, act like a man!".

In order to get a 10, he needs more points, a lot fewer lazy penalties and to play like he gives a crap every night, i.e. earn his salary. With his talent and some sustained effort, he could be worth every penny. We saw that in the playoffs and having watched many of the Russian games in the WCs, he was a factor. Whatever it was, Fedorov's influence or all the stars were aligned, let's hope he's grown up because anything approaching his potential would be great. I'm optimistic.

Anonymous said...

I gave killer rabbit 9 because he really stepped up in playoffs. Punching Hartnell was priceless. He really clicked with Backstrom, so I'd keep Feds or Nyls with Ovechkin. Ovechkin generates goals on his own.

Anonymous said...

All I know is that he was the best player in the playoffs. 'Nuf said... gave him a 9.