Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 12/27/11

By Alexander Monaghan
President 

By Bridget Samuels

At noon today the NHL roster freeze was removed, effectively turning the heat up from a simmer on this year’s hot stove. In fact, Greg Wyshynski and Jeff Marek chose to make it their topic of the day for their fantastic #MvsW podcast, asking “who is the first name player to be traded?”

Taking a few seasons worth of trade deadlines and hockey trades into consideration, the NHL rarely has a ‘name’ player traded. However, one name whose name simply won’t go away is Washington Capitals enigmatic winger Alexander Semin. Semin, or ‘Sasha’ as he’s affectionately referred to, is in his seventh season in the League and with the Caps but could be the poster boy for a change in scenery.

Whether that change comes via a new team or a plane ride to Eurasia to tour the KHL is another story altogether.

After this season, Semin likely enters the free agent waters for the first time in his career. The 27-year-old has signed two consecutive one-year deals to remain in Washington, earning a raise in his most recent pact of 700K. However, there is no way he could argue his current performance deserves a raise. Furthermore, it would be hard to argue he has earned the $6.7 million the Caps are contractually obligated to fork over to him.

Following last night, 4-2 drubbing at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres, Semin has now scored seven goals and 15 points through 31 games. His 19 projected goals would be the lowest since his rookie campaign. Likewise, his 22 assists and 41 points would also be career lows outside of his inaugural season.

Just by watching him, you know the kind of talent he brings to the table. But gauging his trade value based on real-life value and what other GMs would be willing to sacrifice is another story.

A few weeks ago, Bruce Garrioch of The Ottawa Sun decided to give his take on Sasha. Unlike his usual hyperbole in which Garrioch usually draws two big names out of a hat and guarantees some sort of guaranteed deal (g5), the columnist chose to give a relatively straight forward answer on the subject. From The Ottawa Sun:

Since a coaching change hasn’t brought the desired results, Capitals GM George McPhee has been working the phones trying to shake up his struggling club. While the Caps would love to move Alexander Semin, there is no market for a struggling, underachieving winger making too much money these days.

With all 30 teams trying to make the playoffs and only 3-5 legitimately out of the race, it is somewhat troubling to think no one would take the risk. Semin has roughly $3.7 million remaining on his cap hit for the season with 15 teams able to foot that bill without an exchange of money. Ruling out noncontenders like the Anaheim Ducks and Carolina Hurricanes while also removing small-budget teams like the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars, we are now left with about 7-9 contenders who could use a bit more skill up front.

In years past, GM George McPhee would like scoff at trading away his former scorer. Yet, right now, there probably is no better option in shaking up his club’s current configuration. They could opt for a nice package of a prospect and a draft pick or try to help this year’s incarnation which has struggled to keep the puck out of the net in addition to icing a mediocre power play and penalty kill. Moreover, McPhee could just move Semin because it is good asset management turning around an expiring asset for a non-expiring package.

The salary cap will continue to stifle big-name, blockbuster trades but Semin may still be on the move. As we near the halfway point of the season, don’t be surprised if his name is thrown around in a few conversations.


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