Thursday, October 09, 2008

2008-2009 Previews: Alexander Semin

We’re down to the last three…

Alexander Semin

Last Year: 26-16-42, -18, 10 PPG

Career average (per-82 games): 32-27-59, -12, 13 PPG

Feerless’ Take: You listen to some folks talk about Semin, and you get the impression he is the most gifted talent on the team, surpassing that of even Alex Ovechkin, at least in terms of the offensive end of the ice. He is certainly a scorer – a 30-plus goal capable scorer, despite having fewer than 200 games of NHL experience. Last year was a lost one in some respects for Semin. He played in only six of the first 23 games, posting one goal and one assist and going minus-2. That was a pretty deep hole out which he had to climb. But he did end up netting 25 goals in his last 57 games, a 36-goal pace that was just behind his 38-goal performance of 2006-2007. For a player who shoots from distance, as opposed to a player who scores more goals from in close on rebounds and loose pucks, Semin is a very efficient shooter. He scored on 15.6 percent of his shots two years ago, when he had those 38 goals, and was successful 14.1 percent of the time last year. What he doesn’t do is shoot the puck, at least as much as one might think a “sniper” would – he was 89th in the NHL in shots last year and 30th the year before (by way of comparison, in 1997-1998, when Peter Bondra had 52 goals, he was fifth in the league in shots). Part of this is that there is but one puck to shoot, and Alex Ovechkin is on the firing end of it more than anyone in the league. Part of it, too, is that sometimes, Semin seems intent on making the last deke, turn, or curl before he shoots, and he loses the opportunity. The one thing that could help him this year, that could complete his education as a scorer, is being on the receiving end of plays that Sergei Fedorov can set up.

Cheerless’ Take: You’d like us to think that Semin is Pavel Bure in waiting, wouldn’t you? Well, for as much grief as Bure got for being a 100-foot player, he was +42 over his career of 702 games. He was never worse than -14 in any full season. Semin is already -27 in 192 games and has never been a plus player in any of his three seasons. He was -18 last year, for heaven’s sake -- -16 in those last 57 games you talked about. Maybe it was that ankle that had him on the shelf for 17 games early, or maybe he just isn’t paying enough attention in the defensive end of the ice. He was on the ice for 49 even strength goals in 63 games. That was third worst on the team among forwards, and the other two – Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom – both played in 19 more games than did Semin.

The Peerless’ Take: OK, Semin isn’t going to win a Selke Trophy. How many top-end goal scorers do? What is lost sometimes in Semin’s brief career to date is that he really has had one full season. His first year consisted of 52 games, and last year it started slowly with those 17 games missed in the first 23. Healthy, he is probably a point a game player, if not this year, then soon. He could be a 50-goal scorer, if not this year, then soon. He won’t be 25 until next March, so he has some time yet before he hits his prime. The question is not skill – he has that. It is maturity. Can he avoid the oddly boneheaded play that comes at the most inopportune time? Can he play passable defense on at least an occasional basis? Can he hone his judgment to know when to have his SportsCenter moment, when to make the smart pass, or when to just fire the puck? Semin is a work in progress. That’s really the charitable way of putting it. But folks got a glimpse late last year of the effect of a Sergei Fedorov on Semin’s play. Early on, at least from our perch, Semin looked to be almost too reverential in his approach to playing with Fedorov. But when they finally got it, Semin’s production improved considerably. With a whole season, it could be a very big year. But that’s the step Semin hasn’t yet taken.

Projected: 38-34-72, -5


Chris said...

-5???? Ah, good sir, you are an eternal optimist.

Jimmy Jazz said...

For the fan who knows anything about Hockey, Semin -- not Schultz or Kozlov -- is the most frustrating player to watch. He's like that genius roommate who would never try for more than a B.

Stokley Rose said...

Right, Jimmy. Semin is like Will Hunting. But he finally has his Robin Williams in Sergei Fedorov...hopefully. How do you like dem apples?