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The 2012 NHL unrestricted free agent class


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I don't know if AK46 and Alexander Semin are unsigned because they're only getting weak offers, or because they're taking their time picking between different offers.

If it's the former, it demonstrates that racism is at a level that I had not previously realized. GMs across the league are harming their team because they're buying into the "Russians are lazy" meme.

The converse of GMs underrating Russian players is that they overrate a lot of North American players. Zach Parise was severely overpaid by Minnesota, and I expect Ryan Getzlaf wll be overpaid next summer.

Absolutely. The prejudice against Russian players has reached an unbelievable pitch.

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It's not a "racism" case, let's relax here. You have to look at the player you're gonna get and in both those guys, their inconsistency and "lack of effort" are genuine concerns for any team (not to mention doubtful attitude at times).

Let's be honest.

Imagine there was:

- A white hockey player named Andrew Smith from Thunder Bay, Ontario;

- Who was 6'2" and 209 lbs (he has size!);

- Who was 28 years-old (he's entering his prime!);

- Who had had seasons of 40, 38, 34, 28, 26, and 21 goals (he's a sniper!);

- Who has not scored fewer than 20 goals and not had fewer than 16 assists in any season since his rookie season (he's consistent!);

- Who had averaged 0.9 ppg in the last three seasons with a high goals to assists ratio;

- Who had just played superbly in his team's second round playoff exit (he's a warrior!);

- Who averages 70 games played per season and has not played less than 60 games a season in the six seasons since his rookie year (he's durable!);

Do you think he would have received some spectacular contract offers by now?

I do admit, it could be that Semin will end up getting the 8 year, 64 million dollar contract that Andrew Smith would get in this situation, but I'm not sure. It reflects poorly on NHL GMs if he doesn't.

With respect to team needs, there are large number of teams in the NHL right now that would benefit from a durable, young, 6'2" winger who could contribute 30 goals and 30 assists.

The stuff about laziness and consistency is completely made up. You could just as easily argue that Parise is lazy. Remember the olympic finals game when he scored a goal in the last few minutes of the third period? Why doesn't he play that well all the time? Is it because he's lazy and inconsistent?

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Let's be honest.

Imagine there was:

- A white hockey player named Andrew Smith from Thunder Bay, Ontario;

- Who was 6'2" and 209 lbs (he has size!);

- Who was 28 years-old (he's entering his prime!);

- Who had had seasons of 40, 38, 34, 28, 26, and 21 goals (he's a sniper!);

- Who has not scored fewer than 20 goals and not had fewer than 16 assists in any season since his rookie season (he's consistent!);

- Who had averaged 0.9 ppg in the last three seasons with a high goals to assists ratio;

- Who had just played superbly in his team's second round playoff exit (he's a warrior!);

- Who averages 70 games played per season and has not played less than 60 games a season in the six seasons since his rookie year (he's durable!);

Do you think he would have received some spectacular contract offers by now?

I do admit, it could be that Semin will end up getting the 8 year, 64 million dollar contract that Andrew Smith would get in this situation, but I'm not sure. It reflects poorly on NHL GMs if he doesn't.

That list leaves out a few things though:

- "he's consistent": 20 goals from a guy who got 40 two years ago isn't that consistent: 40 goals is a legitimate high-end sniper, 20 is a good season by Jan Bulis. Andrew Smith has not yet earned the consistency title

- "he's a warrior (playoffs)": I didn't watch much of that series, but Andrew Smith's playoff numbers are hardly staggering: his first two years were solid but the past few haven't been, in 14 games he got 4 points this last one.

- Andrew Smith is pretty weak defensively from what I've seen

- Andrew Smith is not very physical from what I've seen, somewhat mitigating that he has size

- Andrew Smith's own team suspended him for a year for not reporting to the AHL

- Andrew Smith only has 6 NHL seasons (one less than say Parise) and while lots of playoff experienced, his team has had limited playoff success

- Andrew Smith has reputation as a bad teammate (granted, this one it's easier to claim that the reputation is completely unfounded and based on race

To me, I don't care about race, that is not a player who should be locked up for 8 years (well, I don't think any players should be locked up for 8 years in a league with basically guaranteed contracts, but even in the current climate it seems extreme). If anything, maybe he deserves high dollar, low term.

The stuff about laziness and consistency is completely made up. You could just as easily argue that Parise is lazy. Remember the olympic finals game when he scored a goal in the last few minutes of the third period? Why doesn't he play that well all the time? Is it because he's lazy and inconsistent?

Tough to say, I do wonder why Washington let him go if it's all made up (surely they'd believe what they see at practice over media reports?) Maybe they tried really hard to keep him and he just wanted out badly, either way it doesn't look great on him.

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That list leaves out a few things though:

- "he's consistent": 20 goals from a guy who got 40 two years ago isn't that consistent: 40 goals is a legitimate high-end sniper, 20 is a good season by Jan Bulis. Andrew Smith has not yet earned the consistency title

- "he's a warrior (playoffs)": I didn't watch much of that series, but Andrew Smith's playoff numbers are hardly staggering: his first two years were solid but the past few haven't been, in 14 games he got 4 points this last one.

- Andrew Smith is pretty weak defensively from what I've seen

- Andrew Smith is not very physical from what I've seen, somewhat mitigating that he has size

- Andrew Smith's own team suspended him for a year for not reporting to the AHL

- Andrew Smith only has 6 NHL seasons (one less than say Parise) and while lots of playoff experienced, his team has had limited playoff success

- Andrew Smith has reputation as a bad teammate (granted, this one it's easier to claim that the reputation is completely unfounded and based on race

To me, I don't care about race, that is not a player who should be locked up for 8 years (well, I don't think any players should be locked up for 8 years in a league with basically guaranteed contracts, but even in the current climate it seems extreme). If anything, maybe he deserves high dollar, low term.

Actually, Alexaner Semin's goal production is statistically consistent with perfect consistency. The fluctuations in his goal scoring perfectly match the simplest statistical noise model.

If you look at Semin's 6 full NHL seasons, he has 38, 26, 34, 40, 28 and 21 goals. The most important statistic is the mean number of goals: 31.2, which is far removed from Jan Bulis territory. What that means is that if all things were equal, his goal scoring would have a standard deviation of sqrt(31.167) = 5.58 goals per season. That's the standard deviation for perfect consistency. To reiterate, if he was perfectly consistent, four of his seasons would see goals scored between 25 and 37 goals, and all of his seasons should see totals between 20 and 42 goals.

However, all things are not equal. Some years he plays more games than others. The number of games he plays per season has a 10% standard deviation. That means if he was perfectly consistent his goal scoring would vary by 10% per year, or 3.1 goals, in addition to the 5.58 goals mentioned above.

The total expected goal scoring dispersion is sqrt(5.58^2 + 3.12^2 ) = 6.4 goals per year. The actual dispersion in his goal scoring is 7.4 goals per year. The numbers are sufficiently similar that they can be considered the same.

I'll also point out that I've never heard a player criticized for having only played six seasons following his rookie year. That's a big enough sample. Parise has played the same number of seasons.

Tough to say, I do wonder why Washington let him go if it's all made up (surely they'd believe what they see at practice over media reports?) Maybe they tried really hard to keep him and he just wanted out badly, either way it doesn't look great on him.

Washington's management team likely has the same mentality as that of other teams.

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Let's be honest.

Imagine there was:

- A white hockey player named Andrew Smith from Thunder Bay, Ontario;

- Who was 6'2" and 209 lbs (he has size!);

- Who was 28 years-old (he's entering his prime!);

- Who had had seasons of 40, 38, 34, 28, 26, and 21 goals (he's a sniper!);

- Who has not scored fewer than 20 goals and not had fewer than 16 assists in any season since his rookie season (he's consistent!);

- Who had averaged 0.9 ppg in the last three seasons with a high goals to assists ratio;

- Who had just played superbly in his team's second round playoff exit (he's a warrior!);

- Who averages 70 games played per season and has not played less than 60 games a season in the six seasons since his rookie year (he's durable!);

Do you think he would have received some spectacular contract offers by now?

I do admit, it could be that Semin will end up getting the 8 year, 64 million dollar contract that Andrew Smith would get in this situation, but I'm not sure. It reflects poorly on NHL GMs if he doesn't.

With respect to team needs, there are large number of teams in the NHL right now that would benefit from a durable, young, 6'2" winger who could contribute 30 goals and 30 assists.

The stuff about laziness and consistency is completely made up. You could just as easily argue that Parise is lazy. Remember the olympic finals game when he scored a goal in the last few minutes of the third period? Why doesn't he play that well all the time? Is it because he's lazy and inconsistent?

Let's take a non-russian example, René Bourque. His work ethic is very questionnable, yet he's not russian. Yes he scored 27 goals twice, but to me I prefer players who work hard every shift. I would not have offered him a contract if he was in the same situation as Semin, but that's just me.

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Let's take a non-russian example, René Bourque. His work ethic is very questionnable, yet he's not russian. Yes he scored 27 goals twice, but to me I prefer players who work hard every shift. I would not have offered him a contract if he was in the same situation as Semin, but that's just me.

Semin is a lot better than Bourque.

Anyways look at another example, Micheal Cammalleri. I personally think he's inconsistent, and some other fans probably agree with me, but the media doesn't say anything bad about him.

Another guy is Getslaf(or was it Patrick Kane?)was involved in an incident while the WHC was going on, media said nothing, but the media made a big deal about the Radulov, and Kostitsyn curfew.

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Semin is a lot better than Bourque.

Anyways look at another example, Micheal Cammalleri. I personally think he's inconsistent, and some other fans probably agree with me, but the media doesn't say anything bad about him.

Another guy is Getslaf(or was it Patrick Kane?)was involved in an incident while the WHC was going on, media said nothing, but the media made a big deal about the Radulov, and Kostitsyn curfew.

Oh he definitely is better than Bourque, that's for sure, no question there :)

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Oh he definitely is better than Bourque, that's for sure, no question there :)

I agree with you that the media gets it right with Bourque but IMO Bourque is more lazy(is Semin even lazy?)than Semin. And that is just one example of the media getting it right, but there are a lot about the media not getting it right.

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I agree with you that the media gets it right with Bourque but IMO Bourque is more lazy(is Semin even lazy?)than Semin. And that is just one example of the media getting it right, but there are a lot about the media not getting it right.

And in any case Bourque is of aboriginal / French Canadian background.

If his name way Roy Brown he might be getting additional chances, like Dustin Penner.

*****

All of that said I do not want the Habs to sign Semin (or Doan) as I think rebuilding is the priority. Semin would make us a bubble team. However, a large number of NHL teams would benefit from his services.

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I'd be very happy to sign Semin. Since he's a hot topic in this thread, check this out:

Link removed

Very detailed and balanced article about how a lot of the perceptions around Semin are exagerated. Lots of good advanced stats to show how valuable he's been.

Please feel free to give a short summary of the points or copy and paste text into the discussion here without using the link. - Ted

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The issue isn't whether Semin is perfect. Of course, he has his flaws. The question is why a player of his skill level, in his physical prime, is being systematically blackballed and openly slandered by members of the media. Does he have issues? Sure. But you cannot tell me that a 28-year-old with size and skill and his proven level of NHL performance deserves to be unable to sign a normal multi-year NHL contract, particularly in an offseason with a weak free agent class. The bigotry is quite astonishing.

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The issue isn't whether Semin is perfect. Of course, he has his flaws. The question is why a player of his skill level, in his physical prime, is being systematically blackballed and openly slandered by members of the media. Does he have issues? Sure. But you cannot tell me that a 28-year-old with size and skill and his proven level of NHL performance deserves to be unable to sign a normal multi-year NHL contract, particularly in an offseason with a weak free agent class. The bigotry is quite astonishing.

I don't think it's the fact he cannot sign a contract it's more to the point that he hasn't yet got an offer to the term and dollars he is looking for. I can't blame the gm's for this either if your character is continually being brought into question it is a very hard decision to commit long term and give lots of money with a decision that could quickly cripple a team's financial situation.

For all of the people trying to defend that he is not inconsistent I have this to add - On a season to season basis Semin is not an inconsistent player however on a game to game basis yes he is very inconsistent a perfect example being the playoffs a few years back against Montreal it was as though he didn't even play. Stretches like this are the reason why gm's are skeptical on giving him a long term big money contract, I know I personally wouldn't offer him more than 2 years.

For whoever spoke about Parise and Semin in the same sentence please don't ever again these guys are not anywhere near each other. It would be an honor to have a guy like Parise on your team being one of the hardest working guys out there every night and the high end talent to go with it. I know it's not that important of a measure but Parise has nearly 200 straight games with at least a shot on goal (no nights off for this guy)

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Here's the article for anyone interested. It's very long so if you don't care about Semin and/or don't like stats feel free to skip. Missing some graphs, but you still get the gist of it.

Alexander Semin and Ignoring the 10 Percent

Posted on July 9, 2012 by Jeff

enigma [ɪˈnɪgmə]

n. A person, thing, or situation that is mysterious, puzzling, or ambiguous. See: Alexander Semin.

Grantland editor-in-chief Bill Simmons wrote a terrific column on Oklahoma City’s enigmatic and polarizing star, Russell Westbrook, back in late June. Westbrook is one of the top talents in the NBA, but he has garnered plenty of criticism for the things he doesn’t do. Westbrook’s aggressive style of play is seen as reckless by his detractors, and they choose to overlook all of his positive attributes (and there are a lot of them). Those who defend Westbrook (including Simmons) accept his faults because he contributes positively in so many ways.

“Westbrook’s defenders accept his faults because they’re a small part of the greater good: He brings so many unique things to the table, fills the stat sheet in so many different ways, competes so freaking hard every game and remains such a good-natured teammate, they’re fine with any collateral damage.”

Alexander Semin is one of the most polarizing players in the NHL. Like Westbrook, he has no shortage of critics, including former coaches, teammates, and members of the media. In the past few playoffs, TSN and CBC in particular have been consistent with their political party-like smear campaigns. People focus on what he takes off of the proverbial table (consistent production, toughness, physical play, and intangibles like grit and heart), all the while ignoring his positives (production at even strength, and a positive impact on linemates, among other things).

There is one big difference between the two players. Westbrook is criticized at times for trying too hard. With Semin, the exact opposite is true.

Why does Semin get criticized for his faults so much more than other NHL players? There are many reasons.

In his column, Simmons also discusses what he calls the “10 Percent Theory.” All great athletes have weaknesses, and even the greatest players are only using about 90 percent of their total potential (not sure how Simmons quantifies this, but in general the theory makes sense). These weaknesses represent the other 10 percent. For some players, these weaknesses are more glaring than others (in Semin’s case, his get dissected on an almost daily basis). With the right coaches, the right fit, and the right playing style, these weaknesses are minimized. Put Semin on a team with a strong leadership group (something Washington probably hasn’t had in recent years, although that is merely speculation without being privy to what goes on in the dressing room), and perhaps the four most recent seasons may have ended differently.

Simmons mentions Steve Francis in his column. Francis very well could be the Semin of the NBA – a mercurial and talented player who was a divisive figure from day one. Francis refused to play for the Vancouver Grizzlies, the team that drafted him, while Semin returned back to Russia after spending 52 games in Washington as a rookie in 2003-04. Simmons discussed Francis with his former coach Jeff Van Gundy. Van Gundy had Francis during his tenure in Houston, and during that time he tried to change the highly skilled and explosive guard into more of a typical pass-first point guard. In the process, he took away Francis’s 90 percent and focused too much attention on his 10 percent.

The same could be said for how Semin (and many of Washington’s other offensive stars) have been treated in recent years. The Capitals were once the class of the NHL offensively, but after a few playoff disappointments (the final straw being the stifling Montreal defense and Jaroslav Halak during 2010), they changed course, opting for more of a gritty, two-way brand of hockey.

Did the move pay off? From 2008 to 2010, the Capitals won an average of 52 games, consecutive Southeast Division titles, a Presidents’ Trophy, and multiple individual awards. They lost once each in the first and second round. From 2010-2012, the Capitals won an average of 45 games, one Southeast Division title, and zero individual awards. Mike Green went from being the next Paul Coffey to an afterthought. Alex Ovechkin played like a shadow of his former Mark Messier/Pavel Bure hybrid self. And Semin’s role decreased with each passing season.

Like Van Gundy in Houston, Washington’s coaches (starting with Bruce Boudreau and ending with Dale Hunter) tried to change Semin. They focused on what he wasn’t doing (blocking shots, appearing to compete hard), instead of what he was (producing at an elite level, elevating the play of those around him, even as his quality of linemates decreased).

In 2009-10, he spent over 20 percent of his time on the ice with Backstrom and Ovechkin.

Frequency Strength 2009-10 Line Combination

21.37% EV 19 BACKSTROM,NICKLAS – 8 OVECHKIN,ALEXANDER – 28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER

17.79% EV 14 FLEISCHMANN,TOMAS – 21 LAICH,BROOKS – 28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER

9.69% EV 21 LAICH,BROOKS – 9 MORRISON,BRENDAN – 28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER

The next season, that number dropped to 16 percent.

Frequency Strength 2010-11 Line Combination

16.15% EV 19 BACKSTROM,NICKLAS – 8 OVECHKIN,ALEXANDER – 28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER

10.23% EV 90 JOHANSSON,MARCUS – 21 LAICH,BROOKS – 28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER

And this past season it dropped even further, to 9.8 percent.

Frequency Strength 2011-12 Line Combination

17.43% EV 25 CHIMERA,JASON – 85 PERREAULT,MATHIEU – 28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER

9.88% EV 19 BACKSTROM,NICKLAS – 8 OVECHKIN,ALEXANDER – 28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER

9.17% EV 90 JOHANSSON,MARCUS – 8 OVECHKIN,ALEXANDER – 28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER

Semin’s critics haven’t been entirely off the mark, though. Former teammates Matt Bradley and David Steckel spoke negatively of him in public – almost unheard of in hockey. This only confirmed what many people had assumed already – Semin was a bad teammate, and someone who cared more about his own stats than the greater good of winning games.

Comparisons could be made between the run-and-gun Capitals and the run-and-gun Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have done a good job in recent years of shoring up their 10 percent (size, toughness, defense) without taking away from the other 90. The Capitals have been unsuccessful in this venture, and with the hiring of Adam Oates, a return to maximizing their 90 percent may be in order. Van Gundy told Simmons that the Thunder “needed to win or lose… on their own terms, not some idealistic, media-driven belief about how they SHOULD be playing.” That sentence sounds eerily familiar to Capitals fans, I’m sure.

In his blog for Sports Illustrated, Stu Hackel had the following to say about Semin:

“Semin’s offensive inconsistency reminds me of Alex Kovalev, who was one of the most gifted NHLers ever. He’d amaze teammates in practice, but was maddeningly inconsistent during games. He could have been one of the greatest ever, but he didn’t deliver on his potential enough.”

Like Semin, Kovalev’s detractors focused on his weaknesses while overlooking his positive contributions. Kovalev wasn’t one of the greatest ever, but he was a very good player for a long time. Semin has a better shot and quicker hands than 95 percent of the hockey playing population, but perhaps his ultimate “potential” isn’t unrealized. Maybe he isn’t supposed to be a consistent two-way force that can also score 50 goals. Maybe his upside has been realized – a supremely talented offensive force that disappears for stretches and keeps hockey journalists busy.

Even Semin’s detractors can’t argue with the fact that Washington has never paired him with a suitable center on the second line. From over-the-hill veterans like Sergei Fedorov, Brendan Morrison, and Jason Arnott, to borderline top six forwards like Mathieu Perreault and Eric Belanger, Semin was never given a center to flourish alongside. Ironically enough, the Capitals went out and acquired a legitimate number two center this summer in Mike Ribeiro, but Semin won’t be there to play with him.

After scoring 40 goals in 2009-10, Semin was left off of the NHL All-Star Ballot the very next season. His poor playoff performance in 2010 (zero goals and two assists in seven games) overshadowed what was a spectacular regular season. Whoever was in charge of putting the ballot together obviously was listening to Semin’s critics, a group that seemed to be growing with each passing day. Dave Lozo, an NHL.com writer, put it best.

“Alex Semin is the only guy who can score on national TV and people spend the next five minutes questioning why he doesn’t try.”

Before the 2011-12 season, the Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg did his best to debunk some of the perceptions that the hockey world had created about Semin. Some of Greenberg’s work flies in the face of those who consider Semin to be a one-dimensional team cancer (this includes Marc Crawford, the former TSN panelist and Cup winning NHL coach who referred to Semin as a “complete loser” with “no character” on national television).

“In 2009-10, his Corsi percentage was .541, 17th best in the NHL among forwards, ahead of noted “puck-possession machines” Zach Parise, Marcel Goc and Ryan Clowe. Semin was also 12th in goals scored with 40, 20th in points with 84 and seventh in plus/minus with a plus-36. He did this despite playing the second-toughest opponents among Washington forwards in terms of Corsi relative to the competition.

Over the last four years, Semin has also proven himself to be an excellent penalty killer. His 4.2 goals against per 60 minutes is in the top 10 lowest among forwards during that period, and he has kept opponents to 44 shots against per 60 when he has been on the ice, 26th best.”

A Corsi percentage of .541 means that of all shots directed on goal, 54.1 percent of them came from Washington players on the opposition’s goalie while Semin was on the ice (a very good number). Semin drove possession in a positive manner for his team while on the ice.

Washington GM George McPhee echoed many of the same sentiments (yet still chose to not re-sign the skilled winger this summer).

“With respect to his play, he’s a productive playoff player. His point-per-game average is way up there in the league. He’s played in 37 playoff games and got 30 points. I mean, Pavel Datsyuk is a terrific playoff player and in his first 37 playoff games he had 12 points. Semin had 30. Semin’s got a better point-per-game average than Corey Perry, who won the MVP, or the Sedin twins, who are great players, or a guy like [boston’s Patrice] Bergeron, who won the Cup last year. It’s easy to point fingers but you’ve got to get the facts right, and this kid’s been productive.”

Matt Bradley, a teammate of Semin’s for a few seasons, had the following to say about the mercurial winger during an interview a few years ago.

“He could easily be the best player in the league. For whatever reason, just doesn’t care. You need him to be your best player, or one of your best players, and when he doesn’t show up, you almost get the sense that he wants to be back in Russia. That’s tough to win when you’ve got a guy like that.”

Of course Bradley knows more about Semin as a teammate than we ever could. Semin may steal shampoo in the showers, he may cut laces in the dressing room, and he could snore really, really loudly. However, during 2005-2011 (when both Bradley and Semin were teammates), Semin was one of Washington’s most effective and productive forwards – at both ends of the ice.

The above chart, courtesy of David Johnson from Hockey Analysis, shows the GF20 numbers for Semin’s teammates over the most recent three seasons. GF20 stands for team goals for per 20 minutes of ice time. Each Washington forward is plotted on the chart. The horizontal axis shows their GF20 number without Semin on the ice, and the vertical axis shows their number with Semin on the ice.

First off, it is easy to see how Semin’s linemate quality has downgraded. Three years ago, he spent a lot of time with Ovechkin and Backstrom. This past year, his most frequent linemates were Perreault and Jason Chimera. The larger the circle, the more frequently a player skated on a line with Semin.

It is quite clear that Semin had a positive impact on the offensive production of a wide variety of linemates (and Chimera in particular). In fact, only Ovechkin (2011-12), Johansson (2011-12), and Morrison (2009-10) were better off without Semin. So in three years, only three of 14 linemates fared better offensively without Semin. Not a huge surprise though, as Semin is supposed to be an offensive star.

This next chart is almost identical, except that it measures GA20 (if you guessed team goals against per 20 minutes, you would be correct). Semin, thought of as a one-way offensive talent, would surely drag down the defensive play of his linemates, no?

Quite the opposite, in fact. Almost all of his linemates have had better goals-against ratios while playing with him compared to playing without him (excluding Ovechkin in 2010-11). Only one of 14 linemates from the past three seasons performed significantly better defensively without Semin than with him. Some saw almost no difference with and without Semin on the wing, while others saw a significant improvement in their defensive play. He may lack grit, heart, intensity, and a “motor that doesn’t quit,” but Semin has been a very strong defensive forward in recent years. Read that out loud a few times, now.

And from the same column:

“Of 125 NHL players with 2500 even strength minutes over the past three seasons, Semin ranks fifth in GF20, behind the Sedin twins, Jonathan Toews, and Steven Stamkos). Even more impressive – he ranks 13th in GA20. Daniel and Henrik ranked 28th and 38th in GA20 over that same time, while Toews and Stamkos were way back at 60th and 105th, respectively.”

Fear the Fin conducted a very thorough analysis of Semin before free agency opened this year. Semin’s offensive production (the 90 percent) has been declining over the last four years. His even strength shot rate, goal and point output, and total shots on goal have steadily dropped since 2008 .

Season DZone% Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Rel On-Ice Sh% 5v5 G/60

2008-09 40.40% 0.05 7 10.90% 1.76

2009-10 46.00% 0.46 4.9 12.10% 1.74

2010-11 45.00% 0.79 11.4 10.70% 1.38

2011-12 48.90% -0.34 11 9. 30% 0.9

Glossary:

■DZone% – percent of shifts starting in the defensive zone. Semin’s defensive responsibilities have increased in the last four years.

■Corsi Rel QoC – the relative Corsi numbers of opponents on the ice. Semin saw his easiest minutes this past season, which is indicative of his declining role.

■5v5 S/60 – even strength shots on goal per 60 minutes. Less shots equals less goals, all things being equal.

■5v5 G/60 – even strength goals per 60 minutes. Declining each season.

■5v5 P/60 – even strength points per 60 minutes. Declining each season.

Semin’s linemate quality has decreased. As have his offensive opportunities. And Washington’s radical shift in playing style and organizational philosophy have all factored in. Even with an even-strength point production ratio of 2.3 per 60 minutes, his lowest in four seasons, Semin still ranks in the top 50 of all NHL forwards (and the top 15 of all NHL left wingers).

Pierre McGuire is obviously plugged in to the hockey world. For all of his faults, he is a passionate color commentator with a coaching background and enough credibility to earn multiple interviews for GM vacancies. Calling Semin “the ultimate coach killer” likely comes from knowledge closer to the situation than most.

Bruce Boudreau, Semin’s coach for a few years in Washington, had the following to say back in 2009.

“Who knows what [Alex] is 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. E’s the enigma of enigmas.”

Boudreau quickly followed that up with slight praise.

“In the NHL you can’t find this type of talent everywhere.”

The perception of Semin as an enigma, a player no heart (or one with a heart back in Russia), and a talented player performing well below the level he should be at was almost universally accepted in hockey.

Consistency is a skill that is underrated in all facets of daily life, and professional sports are no different. Wayne Gretzky was arguably the greatest player of all-time. A large part of what made him so good was the fact that he performed at such a high level for an extended period of time. Sometimes consistency can be learned (Vincent Lecavalier is a great example of this), and sometimes it can’t. Some players (Kovalev and Semin) are simply unable to use their 90 percent 100 percent of the time. You may get a player who plays with the same effort and same level of physicality each and every night (Ryan Callahan, for example), and that makes up a large part of his 90 percent. However, Callahan could only dream of doing many of the things Semin can do with the puck on his stick.

Another part of Semin’s game that has provided ammunition for his detractors – his penchant for lazy penalties in the offensive zone. Looking at the numbers, it is hard to refute this claim. Semin takes a lot of minor penalties relative to his teammates as well as the rest of the league.

Minor Penalties Team Rank League Rank

2011-2012 Season 28 1 34

2010-2011 Season 27 T-1 47

2009-2010 Season 33 1 20

All that being said, Semin has the 11th highest goals-per-game average since the lockout. He has had a positive impact (on the ice, at least) on his teammates.

Even during 2011-12, a season in which Semin saw his ice time cut to 16:47 per game, and was playing with checkers instead of Washington’s top talent; he was able to generate scoring chances at a significantly greater rate than any other Capital.

“A scoring chance is defined as a clear play directed toward the opposing net from a dangerous scoring area, loosely defined as the top of the circle in and inside the faceoff dot. Blocked shots are generally not included, but missed shots are. A player is awarded a “chance for” (SCF) if someone on his team has a chance to score and a “chance against” (SCA) if the opposing team has a chance to score.”

Semin’s scoring chance differential of plus-52 was more than double any other Capital player (Perreault was second at plus-24). With Semin on the ice, the Capitals generated 52 more scoring chances on net than their opposition did.

Jim Rutherford, Carolina’s GM, spoke of his tempered interest in Semin.

“We would look at Semin on a short-term basis. We wouldn’t want to get locked in to anything, because we’ve all heard the stories.”

Some of the stories are true. Semin takes bad penalties. He isn’t the best teammate. However, calling him one-dimensional is simply wrong. Saying he doesn’t care? He would have been back in Russia long ago if that were true.

Instead of trying to figure out what makes him tick, why he doesn’t speak English more often, why he isn’t revered by his teammates, NHL GMs should be figuring out why they are busy overpaying for average talent while one of the best possession players in the entire league continues to toil away on the open market.

Back to the Simmons column on Westbrook. He compared Westbrook’s “compete level” to that of Michael Jordan. Semin will never be lauded for his “compete level,” which makes up a part of his 10 percent. However, teams need to stop overlooking the other 90. If it was all about the money, Semin would be starring in Russia alongside Alex Radulov right now.

Take the final paragraph from Simmons’ column and replace Westbrook’s name with Semin’s.

“As for Semin, he’s never shedding that 10 percent. We’re always going to notice it. That is what makes him Alex Semin. You are who you are.”

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For whoever spoke about Parise and Semin in the same sentence please don't ever again these guys are not anywhere near each other. It would be an honor to have a guy like Parise on your team being one of the hardest working guys out there every night and the high end talent to go with it. I know it's not that important of a measure but Parise has nearly 200 straight games with at least a shot on goal (no nights off for this guy)

Actually, Parise and Semin are very similar players when you measure in terms of reality rather than perception:

- Parise averages 30 goals per year since his rookie campaign, Semin averages 31.

- Parise averages 33 assists per year since his rookie campaign, Semin averages 33.

- Parise has played 423 games in the last six season, Semin has played 417. They are equally durable.

- Parise was born in July, 1984; Semin was born in March, 1984.

There are three main differences between Parise and Semin.

- Parise is born in Minnesota, whereas Semin is born in Krasjonarsk.

- Parise gets to play on the first line in NJ, with the best offensive opportunities and linemates. Semin plays on the second line in Washington.

- Parise just signed a 13 year, 7.5 million dollar a year contract, making him one of the most overrated players in NHL history. Semin is unsigned in spite of being a 30-30 player, making him one of the underrated players in NHL history.

Honestly, either Parise has high-end talent, or he is one of the hardest-working guys in the league -- but not both. Parise is a 30-30 player who gets top-line minutes including first-wave PP. If he had top-end talent and was one of the hardest-working guys in the league, he would be a 40-40 player not a 30-30 player.

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Actually, Parise and Semin are very similar players when you measure in terms of reality rather than perception:

- Parise averages 30 goals per year since his rookie campaign, Semin averages 31.

- Parise averages 33 assists per year since his rookie campaign, Semin averages 33.

- Parise has played 423 games in the last six season, Semin has played 417. They are equally durable.

- Parise was born in July, 1984; Semin was born in March, 1984.

There are three main differences between Parise and Semin.

- Parise is born in Minnesota, whereas Semin is born in Krasjonarsk.

- Parise gets to play on the first line in NJ, with the best offensive opportunities and linemates. Semin plays on the second line in Washington.

- Parise just signed a 13 year, 7.5 million dollar a year contract, making him one of the most overrated players in NHL history. Semin is unsigned in spite of being a 30-30 player, making him one of the underrated players in NHL history.

Honestly, either Parise has high-end talent, or he is one of the hardest-working guys in the league -- but not both. Parise is a 30-30 player who gets top-line minutes including first-wave PP. If he had top-end talent and was one of the hardest-working guys in the league, he would be a 40-40 player not a 30-30 player.

Ok now i'm officially sick of this born is Russia EDIT - Malkin, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Datsyuk even Markov have had absolutely no problem signing contracts they are all from Russia and high end talent the difference is character not where they are born. When coaches and teammates call you out there is a reason. Media is on his EDIT because of his character not his place of birth I could care less if he was from Zimbabwe.

Also there is much more to hockey players then cold hard numbers when comparing ie Semin - Parise there is a very legitimate reason why 30 gm's were fighting over Parise and why Semin hasn't signed yet, shall I say it again CHARACTER. Also Parise is a 35-35 player more so that 40-40 or 30-30 and in the this league nowadays that's pretty damn good if your name isn't Crosby or Malkin. Getting a "c" for an NHL club is a pretty special honor something Semin will never get and well, probably doesn't even want.

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Actually, Parise and Semin are very similar players when you measure in terms of reality rather than perception:

- Parise averages 30 goals per year since his rookie campaign, Semin averages 31.

- Parise averages 33 assists per year since his rookie campaign, Semin averages 33.

- Parise has played 423 games in the last six season, Semin has played 417. They are equally durable.

- Parise was born in July, 1984; Semin was born in March, 1984.

There are three main differences between Parise and Semin.

- Parise is born in Minnesota, whereas Semin is born in Krasjonarsk.

- Parise gets to play on the first line in NJ, with the best offensive opportunities and linemates. Semin plays on the second line in Washington.

- Parise just signed a 13 year, 7.5 million dollar a year contract, making him one of the most overrated players in NHL history. Semin is unsigned in spite of being a 30-30 player, making him one of the underrated players in NHL history.

Honestly, either Parise has high-end talent, or he is one of the hardest-working guys in the league -- but not both. Parise is a 30-30 player who gets top-line minutes including first-wave PP. If he had top-end talent and was one of the hardest-working guys in the league, he would be a 40-40 player not a 30-30 player.

Parise is overated IMO. Aside from perhaps Max Pacioretty, Alex Semin would be better than any other left-wing the Habs have on the roster.

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As in the case with prejudice in general, bigots are willing to overlook absolutely exceptional performances, such as those from Malkin, Ovechkin, etc. If you're in that situation, you have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good as the other guy. All I've heard so far is fans spewing the same prejudiced blinkered nonsense about consistency and character. Probably Semin's teammates who chose to bash him are the same -- bigoted Canadians who bash what they don't understand. (I'm not saying all Canadians are like this, but we certainly see enough of that type in fans, media, even hockey players)

Semin should not need to be Evgeni Malkin to get a contract that is commensurate with his abilities. People say he's holding out for some mega-contract. Well, what if he's insulted at the thought that a team would only give him a ONE-YEAR CONTRACT at age 28? In what universe is this blackballing acceptable? I think the article that Bean quoted is dead on, as is the comparison to Kovalev, particularly this quote:

Semin has a better shot and quicker hands than 95 percent of the hockey playing population, but perhaps his ultimate “potential” isn’t unrealized. Maybe he isn’t supposed to be a consistent two-way force that can also score 50 goals. Maybe his upside has been realized – a supremely talented offensive force that disappears for stretches and keeps hockey journalists busy.

Seriously, who cares about work ethic or consistency if two players produce at the same level? If we're talking about a Crosby or Malkin who has talent AND who produces consistently, that's another story, but Semin is comparable to Parise in terms of his overall production. Maybe Parise should get paid a little more? Who knows, really? But there is no way you can convince me that Parise deserves the ridiculous contract he got while Semin apparently can't get a single team to give him a contract longer than two years. That is bigotry, plain and simple, and those TSN hacks like Crawford (thank God we didn't hire HIM) are just as guilty as anyone else of perpetuating it.

Semin has played with inferior linemates the past two years and has remained productive. I would absolutely sign him to a multi-year contract if the cap hit were right. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure Bergevin, like the rest of the GM old boys club, will opt to sign some mediocre North American winger past his prime to give us ... wait for it ...

True%2BGrit.jpg

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Ok now i'm officially sick of this born is Russia EDIT - Malkin, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Datsyuk even Markov have had absolutely no problem signing contracts they are all from Russia and high end talent the difference is character not where they are born. When coaches and teammates call you out there is a reason. Media is on his EDIT because of his character not his place of birth I could care less if he was from Zimbabwe.

Also there is much more to hockey players then cold hard numbers when comparing ie Semin - Parise there is a very legitimate reason why 30 gm's were fighting over Parise and why Semin hasn't signed yet, shall I say it again CHARACTER. Also Parise is a 35-35 player more so that 40-40 or 30-30 and in the this league nowadays that's pretty damn good if your name isn't Crosby or Malkin. Getting a "c" for an NHL club is a pretty special honor something Semin will never get and well, probably doesn't even want.

In professional sports, character is pretty much worthless. There, I said it.

We're trying to build a hockey team, not a boy scout troupe. I don't care if you're from Canada or Russia or Zimbabwe, the only thing that matters to me as a GM is how well you play hockey. If you're a terrible person and a great hockey player, well, I want you on my team. I won't go for a beer with you after the game, maybe, but between the whistles you're the guy I want.

And make no mistake, Semin DOES play hockey very well. Even if it's true that he's padding his own stats instead of "playing for the team", who cares? According to the article that BeanCountingHab posted, Semin's teammates have consistantly played better when he is on their line. Whether he's "trying to" or not, he DOES make his team better, as well as his teammates. So tell me again where his character has hurt anything?

I'd like to bring up an example from Canadiens history. We once had a player who was for all intents and purposes an outcast. This man was an extreme introvert who rarely wanted anything to do with his teammates. He wasn't very well liked by the rest of the Habs on a personal level: he almost never went out with them after the games, he spent all his time on the team bus sitting by himself, knitting, and he showed no interest whatsoever in the other players' personal lives. What a no-character guy, am I right? He was also a favourite whipping boy of the local media, and they'd question him and his odd habits whenever his on-ice performance dipped for a game or two. You'd think that someone like this would bring down morale to the point where it would start to affect the team, right?

Jacques Plante's record seven Vezina trophies and his six Stanley Cup victories would say otherwise.

Plante wasn't team captain material (even if he hadn't been a goalie) and, well, he probably wouldn't have wanted it anyway. But it didn't matter, since when he played hockey he did it better than anyone else. I see absolutely no difference between his situation and Semin's.

I'd just like to end on a quote I liked from Henri Richard regarling Plante, although it's from a printed biography that I don't have with me here at work so I'll have to paraphrase.

"Jacques was always a bit of [a jerk], and to be honest I didn't really like the guy in those years. But once the puck dropped he was my favourite player on the team"

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As in the case with prejudice in general, bigots are willing to overlook absolutely exceptional performances, such as those from Malkin, Ovechkin, etc. If you're in that situation, you have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good as the other guy. All I've heard so far is fans spewing the same prejudiced blinkered nonsense about consistency and character. Probably Semin's teammates who chose to bash him are the same -- bigoted Canadians who bash what they don't understand. (I'm not saying all Canadians are like this, but we certainly see enough of that type in fans, media, even hockey players)

Semin should not need to be Evgeni Malkin to get a contract that is commensurate with his abilities. People say he's holding out for some mega-contract. Well, what if he's insulted at the thought that a team would only give him a ONE-YEAR CONTRACT at age 28? In what universe is this blackballing acceptable? I think the article that Bean quoted is dead on, as is the comparison to Kovalev, particularly this quote:

Semin has a better shot and quicker hands than 95 percent of the hockey playing population, but perhaps his ultimate “potential” isn’t unrealized. Maybe he isn’t supposed to be a consistent two-way force that can also score 50 goals. Maybe his upside has been realized – a supremely talented offensive force that disappears for stretches and keeps hockey journalists busy.

Seriously, who cares about work ethic or consistency if two players produce at the same level? If we're talking about a Crosby or Malkin who has talent AND who produces consistently, that's another story, but Semin is comparable to Parise in terms of his overall production. Maybe Parise should get paid a little more? Who knows, really? But there is no way you can convince me that Parise deserves the ridiculous contract he got while Semin apparently can't get a single team to give him a contract longer than two years. That is bigotry, plain and simple, and those TSN hacks like Crawford (thank God we didn't hire HIM) are just as guilty as anyone else of perpetuating it.

Semin has played with inferior linemates the past two years and has remained productive. I would absolutely sign him to a multi-year contract if the cap hit were right. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure Bergevin, like the rest of the GM old boys club, will opt to sign some mediocre North American winger past his prime to give us ... wait for it ...

True%2BGrit.jpg

No doubt there is a stigma attached to Russians which is coming into play here. But I don't think it's the only sterotype working against him. I think there's actually a bigger stereotype related to a certain style of play which accentuates the negativity towards Semin.

I guess the best way to describe the style I'm thinking of would be "finess players". There is essentially a bias against skill players who don't play a physical game/block shots, maybe aren't great defensively and don't have those attributes we associate with grit and character. If that player is streaky at all, it's even worse. Some non-Russian examples:

Jason Spezza spent many years as a whipping of the Sens fanbase despite having elite talent.

Phil Kessel gets bashed constantly including this year. The guy put up 82 points this year and still gets trashed by many Leaf fans/media. I would kill for a 24 year old who went PPG and already put up 4 back to back 30+ goal seasons.

Even Tanguay despite being pretty productive before his trade and during his time here was critized for being "soft".

The other overvalued factors are playoff production, even in very small sample sizes, and playoff success of a player's team, espcially cup wins. (see Thornton,Joe Richards,Mike *whoops, he won a cup and is back to being the ultimate gritty leader, my mistake)

So you look at what North American media overvalues and considers gritty/character traits:

- Hitting

- Shotblocking

- Defensive play

- Playoff performance

- Cup wins

- Willingness to fight

The things on that list are not really part of Semin's strengths and some are part of his weaknesses. This bias transcends race. Combine it with the Russian stigma and you have a perfect storm of reasons to dump on Alex Semin.

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