Now that Zach Parise is long gone (and was never really close) and Steve Sullivan has taken his talents to the desert, the Pittsburgh Penguins have a hole to fill in their Top 6 forwards. Most of the remaining pickings left are either old or oft-injured.
Aside from a trade, which is the most logical choice, especially considering the cap space and stock-pile of defensive efforts Ray Shero has, we might as well talk about what everyone else is talking about.
For background, we lifted some stats from the hard-work of our buddies over at in Lou We Trust (because friends always "lift", not "steal"):
The following numbers are from NHL.com:
Season GP G A Pts SOG S% PPG PPA PIM 2007-08 63 26 16 42 185 14.1 10 10 54 2008-09 62 34 45 79 223 15.2 8 22 77 2009-10 73 40 44 84 278 14.4 8 19 66 2010-11 65 28 26 54 196 14.3 6 12 71 2011-12 77 21 33 54 183 11.5 2 9 56
A drop-off lately, but Semin's clearly capable of some impressive numbers. His 2009-10 season is pretty similiar to the year James Neal just had, and we all remember how great Neal was.
The slumps to be concerned with are in the shots, shooting percentage and power play numbers. Semin, (who has just 1 goal in 18 career second round playoff games) is known to be a perimeter player at times. Is he willing to get into "dirty" zones near the net in order to score goals? Is he able to get his very heavy wrist shot on target? Recently, he has not as much as years earlier.
And now some advanced stats:
(20 games played minimum).
Season GP TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Rank On-Ice Corsi Rank PDO OZS% SA On/60 SA Off/60 2007-08 63 11.95 0.228 5/15 13.15 6/15 949 60.0 23.3 23.0 2008-09 62 13.18 0.047 7/14 17.48 4/14 1021 59.6 23.8 26.6 2009-10 73 14.18 0.463 2/17 10.20 4/17 1052 54.0 30.3 26.9 2010-11 65 13.35 0.792 3/15 11.41 2/15 1044 55.0 25.4 26.7 2011-12 77 13.92 -0.340 11/15 5.21 3/15 1011 51.1 27.4 26.9
Obviously a big drop-off this past season from years past, and he's been used less and less in the offensive zone to start shifts as the years have gone on. That sort of usage could be an explanation to point out why his boxcar stats have also continued to dip. Obviously the Penguins, who gave high O-Zone's to Neal, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz, would offer Semin more than 51.1% o-zone starts, you would think.
More thoughts after the jump...
Obviously the cons to signing Semin are as long as you'd like to list. First, you can go back to 2008 when he didn't see was so "special" about Sidney Crosby. Semin's also tagged with the "enigmatic Russian" like Malkin and Alex Kovalev before him. He's a guy who has barely said anything to the English media, and has been thought of as sort of isolated from non-Russian speaking teammates.
Semin's sort of like a sloppier, pre-2011 Malkin. Flashes of brillance and dominance interuppted by sloppy play, bad, obvious penalties. Periods of floating around, circling the ice point-lessly. Turnovers that would make any fan yell or scratch their head. Then, boom, he can pull out a mesmorizing goal or make a beautiful play with the puck look almost carelessly easy to perform.
At the end of the day, the Penguins and Alex Semin aren't a fit stylistically. This is a Dan Bylsma team built to "go North" with the puck. Players are expected to make reads to keep advancing the puck up the ice, and short of Malkin, no one is given a lot of license to free-style. Wingers are counted on to be in the right place positionally, to initiate straight-line forechecks and aggressively play the body to disrupt the flow of the other team's breakouts.
In so many ways, the successful wingers under Bylsma are the Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis type - perhaps not that skilled, but very smart players that will hustle and understand their role and willing to play it to the T.
Dollar wise, if Semin wants to come to Pittsburgh, as some like his agent have hinted, he would have to definitely accept a lesser offer. Surely the Penguins would not offer the most money or most term to him. This would be a bit of a change in the workings, (or at least the perception) of a player who's been seen as a mercenary driving for the highest possible price to this point of his career.
The Penguins couldn't add a more skilled player to their roster this summer than Alex Semin. But they couldn't land a more frustrating and, historically, a more inconsistent one either. It's certainly a risk, and with the style (and likely the $$ difference) it's a risk that isn't likely to happen.