Dan’s Take: What Should the Capitals Do With Alex Semin?

What To Do With Alex Semin

Before I jump into the fray, there are a few things I wanted to note upfront:

(1) I don’t have any experience writing about hockey.

(2) And I’m coming at this from the perspective of a baseball analyst, so that’s where my base is. I know baseball and hockey are very different sports – especially since in hockey there is much more interaction between players and a team can be more (or less) than the sum of its parts.

(3) There will be cold, heartless calculations done. I don’t care a lick about the players (in this context). To me they’re just assets, like houses. You can have a really nice house – worth $10 M – but if the mortgage on it is for $15 M then it’s not actually very good for you. Hockey is a business, so there are revenues and costs (like players). If a player is worth $5 M but is paid $6 M, then that’s a bad deal for the team. If he’s paid $4 M, then the team has found $1 M in excess value.

(4) There will be numbers, many of which I make assumptions about and do hand-wavy things with. Precision would be great, but I don’t quite have the tools or the available data at my disposal to do things completely accurately.

Alrighty then. So, what should the Capitals do about Alexander Semin? I’m going to go through each option to the best of my ability, to see which branch bears the best fruit.
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Brandon’s Take: What Should the Capitals Do With Alex Semin?

What To Do With Alex Semin

Let’s say you worked as a manager at Bob Evans. One of your cooks is an aloof guy who rarely speaks to the waiters and waitresses. Every once in awhile he’ll overcook a burger and call in sick to work.

But when he’s focused, he’s capable of making the best Wildfire Chicken dinner of anyone in the entire chain of restaurants. Despite the cook’s shortcomings, the manager would do anything possible to keep the chef around.

Alexander Semin is the slightly flawed cook of the Washington Capitals. Sure, he makes mistakes. No, he’s not particularly adept at English. But he’s one of the league’s most dangerous goal scorers when healthy and motivated. He needs to be resigned.

I suppose you could argue that the Capitals would be best served trading him for a physical, stay-at-home defenseman or a goalie better than Jose Theodore (which would be just about anyone). But I think the current Capitals are the most fun team I can remember watching because of their propensity to score goals in bunches.

Remember the B.O. (Before Ovechkin, not body odor) era? Aside from Peter Bondra, the Capitals never seemed to be able to find complimentary scorers. It led to suspect power plays and way too many “dump and chase” hysterics.

Even if it means taking a serious salary cap hit and not being able to fix a back line that could use an established star, I think the Capitals should keep Semin. If there aren’t enough cooks in the kitchen, it’s much harder to be successful.

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What Should The Capitals Do With Alex Semin – Intro

What To Do With Alex Semin

With all this talk about the Caps potentially taking a run at Ilya Kovalchuk, I figured it was as good a time as ever to debate if Alex Semin should be made available at the trade deadline by General Manager George McPhee – well, only of course for the right price.  Semin is currently finishing out a pretty reasonable 2 year deal and will be a Restricted Free Agent over the summer if he doesn’t resign before then.

Everyone is aware of Semin’s other-worldly talent.  Everyone is aware of his injury and consistency issues.

Hell, at a recent Q&A at ESPN Zone in Downtown DC, Head Coach Bruce Boudreau had this to say about his star winger:

“Who knows what he’s thinking.  The minute I learn to read him, he throws me a curve ball.  One day he looks like the greatest star on Earth and the next day you want to use a stick and beat him over the head with it.  He’s the enigma of enigmas for our team.  But in the NHL, you can’t find this type of talent everywhere.” – (Quote taken from Washington Capitals Examiner – Link Here)

Not really a ringing endorsement.  So what should the Capitals do with the other Sasha? Resign him, trade him or let him walk this summer?  Let the Russian Machine know what you think in the comments below, and then we’ll chime in later today!

All photos of Semin will be from clydeorama. Check out his Photos in his Flickr Account Here.

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Are the Caps sizing up Kovalchuk? Let’s hope not!

Michael Nylander has left a hole beneath the salary cap to the tune of $4 million. Nylander’s awkward and only somewhat amicable exit from the Washington Capitals opens up doors of possibility for the team. Naive I was to think that this discussion need not happen until nearer the draft or at least the trade deadline. Nope, we’re already hearing rumors that the Caps are interested in Ilya Kovalchuk. The left winger superstar has been firmly ensconced in Atlanta since 2001, and his hefty salary is still greater than what was freed up by Nylander’s exit. So what’s gonna give? Well, it better not be my boy, Alexander Semin!

Listen. Try not to act shocked, but this site is called Russian Machine Never Breaks, so we’re sort of in the business of hyping up the Sashas and the junior goalie with the currently sore crotch. Sure, Kovalchuk is a Russian, too, but then we won’t be able to do the “Lesser Sasha” and “Sasha Proper” jokes. Really, our Sasha joke quotient will be cut in half. Plus, there’s also that I think Semin is a terrific hockey player and an asset to the team.

The current Caps roster is built around Alexander Ovechkin, right? So wouldn’t the adding of another star left wing dilute that focus? Semin compliments Ovechkin, and on some days he outshines him. Kovalchuk’s numbers (593 points in 573 games) aren’t even that much better than Semin’s (244 points in 278 games), or at least perhaps not good enough to excuse the salary differential.

Yeah, I’m aware of the problems with Semin. He willfully won’t speak English, he went AWOL after the lockout, he gives up offensive-zone penalties like a (offensive joke about senior prom here), and he’s got more flash than substance. Guess what? I don’t care. Alexander Semin is under the wizardly guidance of Bruce “You had me at no problem” Boudreau. Bruce is upfront about his unhappiness with the lesser Sasha (see? You don’t wanna lose that!), and I think we’ve seen Semin respond with increased discipline and focus since returning from his wrist injury.

Alexander Semin’s presence on the Caps rewards both him and the team. Yeah, Kovalchuk is attractive, but we can’t ditch our date everytime some flirty girl at the other end of the bar flashes us a kind look. And if this truly is a championship season after all, we ought not mess with the magic halfway into it.

(This post’s Sasha count = 5)

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