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The 2012 NHL unrestricted free agent class


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From the Hockeybuzz Devil's blogger:

Way too relevant to this current discussion not to post. And keep in mind Parise is this guy's favourite player:

With Alex Semin still unsigned and undoubtedly the most talented and productive free agent remaining, New Jersey Devils fans have zeroed him in as a guy they would love to have playing for their favorite team. In today's post, I'll take a closer look at Semin's statistics and compare them to those of Zach Parise's over the same time period.

- I love the way Parise plays and he's my favorite player in hockey right now, so in no way am I saying Semin is the better player overall, but if you look at the numbers over the last four seasons, even over their entire careers, Semin has been more productive offensively. Let's take a look.

Last four years:

Parise - .45 goals per game, .97 points per game, plus-49

Semin - .44 goals per game, .98 points per game, plus-92

Career numbers:

Goals created is courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com.

Parise - 502 games, 194 goals, 216 assists, 410 points, 160 goals created, plus-57

Semin - 469 games, 197 goals, 211 assists, 408 points, 165 goals created, plus-65

As you can see, Semin is better when it comes to each one of those statistics. It's worth noting they were both born in 1984.

I'm in no way saying Semin is better than Parise. I'd take Parise over Semin every time because of the intangibles, but for a guy who's work ethic is often questioned, he produces pretty nice numbers.

As I've said several times, if I'm Lou Lamoriello, I at least inquire about the services of Semin. I've contacted his agent, Mark Gandler, a couple of times asking that question, and he declined to comment on teams interested in his client. All Gandler would say is that Semin will play in the NHL this season.

Here are a couple of Semin's finest snipes.

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Pre-draft interviews have nothing to do with Semin. When you're looking to draft someone you really have no idea how they're going to pan out in the NHL. You're looking to get any extra bit of information that you can, and sometimes GMs might look at "leadership potential" as something that tips the scales (although as you said below skill should still be the #1 determining factor).

With Semin, on the other hand, there's no need for guesswork or subjective measurements - we have seven seasons of actual performance to use when making our judgement.

Correction: SOME winning teams trust each other and want to go to war and all the other cliches. Some teams are just really good.

Character helps, I don't deny it. I might not put as much stock into it as some others, but there's no doubt that it's a good thing. You're right that a guy like Moen isn't going to be in the NHL over someone who has better hands without his hustle. Team spirit is great and maybe it helps put some marginal teams over the top. But to look at it in isolation and say that Semin's a negative influence on a team because he doesn't try hard or because people don't like him is to miss the point.

I'll try to frame what I'm saying below. If you're going to respond to the post do it to the next two paragraphs, since I'll see if I can't clarify what I'm trying to say there.

Basically the goal in professional hockey is to win. We all agree on this, I hope :P. You're saying that team bonding will have a positive impact on team performance. Yes, it will. You're also saying that having a player who is percieved as being lazy or is disliked by his teammates will have a negative impact on team performance. Yes, it will. I'm not denying either of those statements. But if you look at them in isolation then how do you explain the following objective, statistical fact: players who have played with Alex Semin have had better results playing with him than they have had playing without him (as shown in Bean's article).

I can think of two possible logical answers off the top of my head. 1) Semin isn't as lazy as people think. 2)Semin IS as lazy as people think, but he's so good at playing hockey that he's able to overcome whatever negative impact that laziness has on himself and his teammates. Which is it? To be honest, it really doesn't matter. He's shown in the past that he's a great individual hockey player and that he makes those around him better. There's no reason to expect that to be any different in Montreal or any other team in the league.

So there you have it. If Semin is in fact significantly more lazy that Parise then, logically, Semin must also be much more skilled than Parise in order to make up for it and achieve roughly the same level of offensive and defensive production. Why people seem to value "gritty" production over "finesse/lazy" production, well, that I can't tell you.

Ok so we agree on quite a few things and disagree on others so you have clarified your point and i'll clarify mine so we can end this debate.

like I have already said on a season to season basis Semin is very consistent but on a night to night basis this gets brought into question. Also there is no doubt that the guys playing with Semin's point totals would be higher he gets 60-80 points a year is common sense to realize that you don't need statistics. I'm sure if you looked at the guys Parise played with the same could be said and every other top end player for that matter.

If you think that I believe that Semin would bring negative value we have our wires crossed because I don't believe this at all, the team would be better with him, However I don't feel he is a fit for what he will get paid and what he will bring to the table I believe there is money better spent then on Semin.

And for the defensive production Parise lead the league in shorthanded points - Semin isn't trusted to kill penalties - (I hate +/- please don't bring it up).

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Guest Regis2

Last four years:

Parise - .45 goals per game, .97 points per game, plus-49

Semin - .44 goals per game, .98 points per game, plus-92

Career numbers:

Goals created is courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com.

Parise - 502 games, 194 goals, 216 assists, 410 points, 160 goals created, plus-57

Semin - 469 games, 197 goals, 211 assists, 408 points, 165 goals created, plus-65

As you can see, Semin is better when it comes to each one of those statistics. It's worth noting they were both born in 1984.

Who was each player's inemates while in NJ and Washington ?

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Guest habs1952

Who was each player's inemates while in NJ and Washington ?

I was kind of wondering the same thing because who you play with can make you a better player or the total opposite.

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well this past year parise had kovalchuk who is better than ovie imo

This year Parise played a lot with Kovalchuk, Semin didn't get as much time with Ovi.

Last year and the previous years Semin played with Ovi and Backstrom quite often when he wasn't he was generally with Knuble and or Laich.

Parise in the past has played with Zajac often and I believe Langenbrunner was the third guy but not positive. (this is the first year really he was on team with Kovalchuck)

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Too many points to address them all, but these are a couple that I want to touch on:

1. Semin was the guy I most wanted here after Suter. Why? Because he fills a niche that we can't get from any other source: a goal scorer with skill for the top 6. You can go and target all the bottom 6 guys you want but having 5 good bottom 6 guys doesn't make up for not having a good top 6. There seems to be a lot of discussion about what's more important, skill or character/drive/hard work. I'd say you need them both to win championships. You need scorers to score and playmakers to create, but you also need the guys who are going to create energy, hit, block shots, and win face-offs. At this point, we've filled up on category #2 among our forward group and that's why our need right now is for a skill player like Semin. It's also easier to go out and find a replacement plugger, both in terms of availability and cost (money and/or assets given up). But that doesn't mean the pluggers aren't important once you get on the ice just because they're more ubiquitous off of it, and that's where I think people have trouble making the distinction. In any case, the bottom line remains that we need to fill in our top 6, and Semin (regardless of nationality) is the best available guy for that job, better than Doan and a better fit for our top 6 than Parise would have been.

2. I disagree about stats like shot-blocking being irrelevant. I do agree that just having a high blocked shot total does not necessarily mean that a player is better defensively than another guy. There are certainly other factors involved, such as time on ice, time your team spends killing penalties, how much time your team plays defence, etc. But in general, there are guys who are good at blocking shots and guys who aren't, and a guy like Hal Gill will block a lot of shots whether he's with the Habs or with a powerhouse Cup winner like the Pens. If you look specifically at Josh Gorges, he led the league in blocked shots with 250, which was 51 more than the guy who finished second. Even accounting for differences in shot-blocking opportunities, he'd easily be well above league average in that statistic. At even strength, Gorges was actually our best statistical player this past season at making positive plays, and he had a 73% success rate in defensive situations, near the top of the team. His D-zone passing completion percentage was also around 75%, and he rated well in this category as well. All this to suggest that if Gorges was blocking shots, it was not really attributable to his being personally weak defensively. If anything, he was making up for errors by his teammates, which is really a positive sign more than anything given the D corps we were working with last season.

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I have never seen another pro team sport that overrates bottom-tier players and impossible-to-measure-intangibles as much as hockey. Does the Miami Heat's bench get this much attention and praise? Do we talk about 5th receivers and reserve long-snappers in football? It's so weird.

It is funny but that's also because unlike other sports such as football and basketball in hockey you CANNOT dictate a play for your superstar. If so, this stat would not exist:

Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier and Gordie Howe have a combined zero career playoff overtime goals.

Superstars in hockey don't have as predictable of an imprint as in other sports. That's why good 3rd liners and 4th liners have more of an impact in our sport than play-calling sports: we cannot dictate who gets the puck in OT. Football they can draw something up and toss it to Rice, basketball can give it to Jordan.

Hockey? You can't call timeout more than once a game and there is no guarantee inbound play for Wayne Gretzky. That's why we value less skilled guys because the puck has just as much of a chance as ending up on their stick at any given moment. Furthermore, an absolute superstar in hockey that is a forward NEVER plays more than 45% of the game. Jordan played 40/48 minutes.

Our bottom tier players have a FAR greater impact on the game than other sports and so proportionately they SHOULD be valued more than their peers in other sports.

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I'm really impressed that Semin can average 31 goals per year as he only shows up every 2nd game. If he tried every night he would score 62 goals per year.

i know and that's why i said he'd probably just frustrate Montreal fans more than anything. We know hockey and we know when a guy's not giving 100% and we expect a lot from our players.

Imo he needs to be in a softer market where he can take nights off like he has in Washington.

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i know and that's why i said he'd probably just frustrate Montreal fans more than anything. We know hockey and we know when a guy's not giving 100% and we expect a lot from our players.

Imo he needs to be in a softer market where he can take nights off like he has in Washington.

My post was actually sarcastic.

I don't actually think Semin is the most talented goal scorer in the world (62 goals per year average potential).

I think that once a guy is top 5% in the league in performance, they are at worst top 10% or maybe top 15% in effort level. To be top 5% in performance, you probably need to be both top 10% in talent and top 10% in effort.

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It is funny but that's also because unlike other sports such as football and basketball in hockey you CANNOT dictate a play for your superstar. If so, this stat would not exist:

Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier and Gordie Howe have a combined zero career playoff overtime goals.

Superstars in hockey don't have as predictable of an imprint as in other sports. That's why good 3rd liners and 4th liners have more of an impact in our sport than play-calling sports: we cannot dictate who gets the puck in OT. Football they can draw something up and toss it to Rice, basketball can give it to Jordan.

Hockey? You can't call timeout more than once a game and there is no guarantee inbound play for Wayne Gretzky. That's why we value less skilled guys because the puck has just as much of a chance as ending up on their stick at any given moment. Furthermore, an absolute superstar in hockey that is a forward NEVER plays more than 45% of the game. Jordan played 40/48 minutes.

Our bottom tier players have a FAR greater impact on the game than other sports and so proportionately they SHOULD be valued more than their peers in other sports.

Not really. Bottom-tier players only have an impact because of the increase in roster size that started a few decades ago. Thirty or forty years ago, you played with nine forwards and four defensemen. Stamina, not pure size and interval training, was king. That's what allowed the open ice for guys like Guy Lafleur to make plays -- in the last few minutes of the third period, when everyone was dog tired, you saw the separation between the skilled players and the non-skilled. Today, with the extra bodies, coaches can distribute the minutes across four forward lines and three defense pairings, allowing players to bulk up and train to play in 40-second bursts.

IMO it's been horrible for the game. Any sport that is fine with keeping its star players off the field is not a well-run sport. As much as possible, I want to see Alexander Ovechkin on the ice, not Brooks Laich. Basketball and soccer have it right IMO. Market the game around star players, and structure the game accordingly.

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Not really. Bottom-tier players only have an impact because of the increase in roster size that started a few decades ago. Thirty or forty years ago, you played with nine forwards and four defensemen. Stamina, not pure size and interval training, was king. That's what allowed the open ice for guys like Guy Lafleur to make plays -- in the last few minutes of the third period, when everyone was dog tired, you saw the separation between the skilled players and the non-skilled. Today, with the extra bodies, coaches can distribute the minutes across four forward lines and three defense pairings, allowing players to bulk up and train to play in 40-second bursts.

IMO it's been horrible for the game. Any sport that is fine with keeping its star players off the field is not a well-run sport. As much as possible, I want to see Alexander Ovechkin on the ice, not Brooks Laich. Basketball and soccer have it right IMO. Market the game around star players, and structure the game accordingly.

So what part of my post are you saying not really to?

You're telling me what used to be true while elaborating and essentially agreeing with my entire post. The point of the matter is, 3rd/4th tier players DO have a greater impact in modern day hockey, far more of an impact than other sports. You said nothing that contradicts that.

Are you just unwilling to concede that Hockey's bottom tier players have a greater impact on the game? You may not like it but it appears that you are also proving that it is true.

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So what part of my post are you saying not really to?

You're telling me what used to be true while elaborating and essentially agreeing with my entire post. The point of the matter is, 3rd/4th tier players DO have a greater impact in modern day hockey, far more of an impact than other sports. Nothing you said contradicts that.

Are you just unwilling to concede that Hockey's bottom tier players have a greater impact on the game? You may not like it but it appears that you are also proving that it is true. They are a part of the play far more than their counterparts in other sports and so by definition they have a larger bearing on the outcome of the game, its probability.

You simply cannot compare the star power in basketball or soccer with hockey, because our sport has shifts. No human can play 85% of a hockey game and remain effective. Soccer yes. Basketball yes. Football plays all offense or all defense.

IMO, that is also why hockey is much more difficult to market, the "Star" is rarely standing in the same spot or aligned the same way continuously for more than 60 seconds, contrast that to a QB, point guard or Striker and it's easy to see how the average non-hockey fan cannot gravitate towards a hockey star. It's too hard to follow whom the best player is unless you already know hockey or follow the sport.

Hockey is the ULTIMATE team sport and that's why I love it, it's also why good ol' boys from the farm with character are valued heavily because at some point every single night that 3rd liner from Saskatchewan has legitimate chance to be THE hero.

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Looks like the Caps snatched up Wolski for 600k, havent followed him much but that seems like a pretty good deal

yep i just brought it up in the last page there that i thought hed get picked up on a bargain. why wouldnt we have grabbed him for a year 600k, geez, hes put up 50 ish points for most of his career

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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 have no idea what your definition of "perfect consistency" is, isn't perfect consistency another word for 0 standard deviation? And it's a little misleading to use average injuries into account when his last (weakest) season he played more games than his average season.

The other thing is his goal output is going in the wrong direction. Teams tend to ask "what have you done lately" and in Semin's case he is coming off a 21 goal, 54 point season. Mentally, as a GM, do you really want to lock up a weak defensive player who has just proven he may only net you 21 goals. If Semin's 09-10 season and last season were just switched I think he'd be getting a lot more interest.

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.

I'm not criticizing him for it, I just don't get giving these massive long term deals after that long, especially when coming off a relatively weak season. However, I was incorrect in that he actually does have 7 seasons, I forgot about the one before the lockout, which is what other players have gotten ridiculous deals on, so I'll retract this point.

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

Given that they've built their teams around Europeans and can see him in practice every day, I doubt it. It's one thing for outsiders to say he's a bad teammate, but Washington is going to believe what they see in the locker room over what some reporter prints. And I mean they were clearly patient with him after being forced to suspend him for a season.

Anyways, what I don't get is if this is all about being eastern European, why did Kovalchuk and Hossa get long term deals and have tons of interest in them? Semin is a good player, but I think there's more than enough negatives to understand why he isn't getting long-term offers.

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Looks like the Caps snatched up Wolski for 600k, havent followed him much but that seems like a pretty good deal

TSN's image had him scoring against the Habs (thanks :rolleyes:), before I could read the title I thought there was news about Montreal. Pretty meh signing I guess, but he has put up reasonable points in the past (coming off a couple relatively weak seasons) so 600k seems like a pretty solid deal.

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The other thing is his goal output is going in the wrong direction. Teams tend to ask "what have you done lately" and in Semin's case he is coming off a 21 goal, 54 point season. Mentally, as a GM, do you really want to lock up a weak defensive player who has just proven he may only net you 21 goals. If Semin's 09-10 season and last season were just switched I think he'd be getting a lot more interest.

...

Anyways, what I don't get is if this is all about being eastern European, why did Kovalchuk and Hossa get long term deals and have tons of interest in them? Semin is a good player, but I think there's more than enough negatives to understand why he isn't getting long-term offers.

Just a couple of notes on the points you made, Graeme. I too am against going long-term on a guy like Semin. I don't think anyone believes he is of the same ilk as Hossa (who plays a pretty complete game) or even kovalchuk (who earned his reputation playing with nobodies in Atlanta, while Semin had Ovi, etc.). But at the same time, there's no doubt that his reputation has preceded him and that teams have been hesitant without likely knowing the whole truth. On the ice, you still get a legit goal scorer, which is hard to come by.

Last season, Semin did have only 21 goals, but he did that playing with less ice time (16:47 per game as opposed to the 18-19 he had been getting the past few seasons) and playing with lesser linemates and less PP time (I believe). Comparatively, he was probably getting similar ice/linemates to what we gave Ak46 here (a touch more ice than Andrei but still significantly less than what we gave Pacman, Cole, and even Bourque), and I think we would have all been pleased with 21 goals and 54 points from him. To boot, we know Semin is capable of much more in a bigger role, so if you give him Pleks and Gio, for example and you give him more PP time, I'd expect him to score at least 25 and more likely 30-35 goals. Semin's production per ice time was in line with what our top scorer (Pacman) put up last season with more favorable linemates and PP time. So yes, there may be some risk with Semin, but there is high reward here too and his stats last year don't scare me at all.

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Semin, at least to me, is essentially Mike Cammalleri with added size. He may not have Mike's playoff numbers to show off with but he's a legit goalscorer and Russian or not, those guys just don't grow on trees.

That said, would I sign him to a long-term deal? No, definitely not. Not because of ethnicity or cultural background, but rather due to the fact that just like Cammalleri or Parise, he's generally not the kind of player I'd be prepared to throw a long-term deal at. I'm sure he'd be a good fit here, he'd probably even be great playing with Plekanec and Gionta, but he'll command top dollar and we're not in the position to hand out such a deal at this point IMO.

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Semin, at least to me, is essentially Mike Cammalleri with added size. He may not have Mike's playoff numbers to show off with but he's a legit goalscorer and Russian or not, those guys just don't grow on trees.

That said, would I sign him to a long-term deal? No, definitely not. Not because of ethnicity or cultural background, but rather due to the fact that just like Cammalleri or Parise, he's generally not the kind of player I'd be prepared to throw a long-term deal at. I'm sure he'd be a good fit here, he'd probably even be great playing with Plekanec and Gionta, but he'll command top dollar and we're not in the position to hand out such a deal at this point IMO.

I see what you're saying, but in this case I think that I would be willing to give him a big contract. Not something like what Parise got, mind you, but at this point it's looking very unlikely (at least from an outsider's perspective) that it's going to take a huge contract to get him signed.

In other threads I've mentioned how I don't think that it's really worth it to demote Gomez without having a good reason to need that cap space. Semin, to me, is a good enough reason. For the record, looking at our current team I'd also take Cammy back. We just really seem to be missing a high-end scorer.

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