By now, I'm sure that you all have heard that Zach Parise & Ryan Suter chose the Minnesota Wild. And to further complicate things for the Pens, they allowed Steve "Sully" Sullivan to walk away, and sign a one year deal in Phoenix. This certainly leaves Ray Shero in quite the predicament, as he needs to find a top-6 winger to play alongside Sidney Crosby.
A lot has been said since the start of free agency on July 1, that if Shero could not land Parise, Alexander Semin could be a viable option. Some are for it, whilst others, like myself (currently, but I'm warming up to it) are very against it.
The facts: Semin is 28. He's Russian (Hello Geno Malkin) He was drafted 13th overall in the 2002 Entry Draft. Last season he scored 54 points (21G-33A) and was a +9. Points-wise, that's not too bad on a team that struggled at times offensively. His best year of productivity was in 2009-2010 when he scored 40 goals and dished out 44 assists. That, ladies & gents, is talent. Unfortunately, his points total has dropped 30 points each of the past two seasons. He went from 40 goals in '09/'10, to 28G in '10/'11, and finally 21G this past season.
His motivation, desire and defensive responsibility also slacked off. So much so that former Caps coach Dale Hunter sat him for stretches at time during parts of the regular season and the playoffs. For a guy of Semin's talent, that's unacceptable.
So there are the facts. Should Ray Shero take a chance on him?
I said that I am against it. But, the more that I think about the possibilities, especially on Crosby's wing, the more I think I could get on board with it. Under the right circumstances, of course.
The right circumstances being Semin is offered NO MORE than a 2-year offer, in the neighborhood of $10-$11 million. Yes that's a pay cut from his $6.7 million last season. But the fact is, he has to prove himself. You tell him that if he performs, there is a raise and a long-term deal at the end of this two year marriage. But performing doesn't mean simply putting up 40 goals and 50 assists. He has to play both ends of the ice, and work hard every shift.
Dan Bylsma is a natural motivator. Not to mention Crosby's tireless work ethic, Malkin's unbridled passion, Brooks Orpik & Chris Kunitz' locker room leadership. Then there is the owner. Lemieux. He automatically demands respect, and that should be motivation enough.
I have to wonder, though, why Semin plays the way he does. A boatload of talent, but he's just lazy. Was he always this way? Or did playing in a system under Bruce Boudreau that was run 'n gun, just outscore the opponent create this habit? In other words, would a different system, along with a change of scenery, make a difference?
I hesitate to say yes. But if he's willing to sacrifice on this contract, then I say go for it.