On the Semin Bandwagon
It's July 26th, three and a half weeks after NHL free agency began, and the Detroit Red Wings are not having the offseason many expected. With a boatload of salary cap room, the goal was to net big name players like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, or both.
On July 2nd, the Red Wings made all of their offseason moves signing backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson, Swiss import Damien Brunner, ex-Red Wings Mikael Samuelsson and Nashville superpest Jordin Tootoo. Other than re-signing defenceman Kyle Quincey, the Red Wings have not made any other moves to improve their team.
Detroit has been mentioned in every report of big name talent, including Parise and Suter. They were also interested in Shea Weber and Rick Nash, but both Nashville and Columbus did not want to deal their franchise player to a divsion rival.
The next big fish most likely to land will be Shane Doan. The Phoenix Coyotes winger has been in the Winnipeg/Phoenix organization his whole career, and is waiting to see how the Coyotes' ownership issues get sorted out before making a decision. He has reportedly visited with teams such as the New York Rangers (most likely out of the Doan sweepstakes with Nash aboard), Philadelphia and Montreal.
The Red Wings have an interest in Doan, but only for the right price. Doan is 36 years old, and while he is a god leader and brings some scoring and grit, he isn't worth the four year contract he wants.
With Nicklas Lidstrom retired and Brad Stuart gone, the Red Wings are certainly worse off than they were last year. After a first round exit in five games to the Predators, this should have the Red Wings faithful concerned to say the least.
Ken Holland has said that he would happy with the roster they have. This is one of the biggest cop-outs a general manager can do. How can he be happy with basically a worse team than the previous season? Is he putting pressure on Brendan Smith to be better than everyone expects? For Brunner to make a smooth transition to North America? Or some other players like Jonathan Ericsson and Quincey to somehow become franchise savers overnight? Holland can't expect Todd Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary to be second line players, because they aren't anymore.
We can go as far to say that Mikael Samuelsson is the 'replacement' for Jiri Hudler, and Gustavsson is clearly an improvement over Ty Conklin. Tootoo is probably the best signing Detroit has made so far, as the third and fourth lines were non-existent in the playoffs, and he will bring a spark and provide energy as an agitator. Just think if the Red Wings put Tootoo, Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader (who is still a restricted free agent) on the same line together. It would be the poor man's Grind Line.
To improve the defence would mean through a trade, and the only player that is apprently on the market that is a top pair guy is Coyotes' Keith Yandle, who will cost an arm and a leg to get.
Therefore, the Wings need to jump on the last proven talent that is avaliable, and that's Alexander Semin.
Luke Fox of Sportsnet went as far to compare Parise and Semin:
Detroit needs to jump on Semin before it's too late. When there are reports that Semin is a bad character guy, listen ot these quotes from ex-teammates and coaches:
“I don’t really know, to be honest with you,” says Semin’s former teammate, Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward. “Alex and I got along great. Everyone has a bad perception of him for some odd reason, but he’s a hell of a player.”
“Since I was there, he bought into what I was trying to preach,” Dale Hunter told the National Post earlier this month. “We even had him blocking shots. I had no problem there whatsoever.”
“I think the media tore him up a little bit and that resulted in the circumstances, but he’ll be fine,” Ward says. “He’s a big boy.”
Fear not the poison, NHL spenders. Signing Semin into his early-30s is no more of a gamble than getting into a bidding war for a past-his-prime leader (Doan) or inking a fragile super-superstar for 12 years (Crosby). For a modest commitment, one lucky club could well be stealing one of the best talents of his generation when his stock is lowest.
Fox makes fair points about Semin's stats and the quotes from people that know him show that Semin has been mis-interpreted. Apparently everyone was watching TSN's free agent frenzy when Marc Crawfordand Pierre Maguire flew off the handle:
Obviously, let's not take these two fine gentlemen's comments as fact. Neither knows Semin, and to say something like that about a player isn't that professional. You can understand that maybe they don't like him, but to call him a coach killer and a loser isn't something that is earned.
Detroit has to offer something for Semin. The bottom line is that they have a ton of cap space and nothing out there to spend it on other than Doan and Semin. It seems that everyone is waiting for Doan to sign and then turn to Semin as a plan B, so why not take a gamble now and get a right handed shot that can help the powerplay. He is a top notch scorer, and putting him with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg (or maybe even Gustav Nyquist) is sure to net Semin at least 25-30 goals.
Give him the same cap hit as last season at $6.7 million. Give him one or two years, let him prove himself. He would certainly be able to in a place like Detroit.