In a season full of disappointments for the Carolina Hurricanes, forward Alexander Semin has to be at the top of the list.
As the second highest paid player on the team, at $7 million per year, the winger only managed six goals and 13 assists in 57 games this season. It was the worst campaign of his career.
At his end of season interview yesterday, Semin had no answers or reasons for the low production. He did enter the season just recovering from wrist surgery over the summer but said that he felt fine in the second half of the season.
"Sasha" seemed as lost during the interview as he looked on the ice at times this season.
Some of his teammates mentioned that there was more structure on the ice this year under Bill Peters and one could assume that Semin struggled to adapt to that structure. His game does seem more suited to having freedom to utilize his creativity, especially in the offensive zone.
Part of a coach's responsibility is to get the most out of his players and the first year head coach failed in getting the most out of this one.
In the preseason, Peters made him an alternate captain and gave him some extra responsibility. Later on, the coach healthy scratched him, criticized him in public, and continually switched him from line to line when he was on the ice. Nothing worked.
If the interview was any indication, the only thing that the coach's "hammer" seemed to accomplish was to break down this player's confidence.
I'm not in 100% agreement with Brian, (we do disagree at times), but as his article mentioned yesterday, it seems like the best thing that could happen for both parties, the team and the player, would be for him to move on. But what is the best way to do it? Is a trade even a possibility?
The cleanest method but the most expensive would be a buy-out.
(Don't confuse a compliance buy-out with a regular one. Compliance buy-outs were a special two-year deal (after the lockout) and did not count against the salary cap. They have run their course. Regular buy-outs can still happen but do count against the team's cap.)
Semin is still owed $21 million over three years on his current contract. Under the rules of the CBA, the Canes would have to pay the winger 2/3's of his contract, spread over twice the duration of it. For this player, that comes to $2.333 million over the next six years, or a total of $14 million.
Carolina is not known for making buy-outs and the latest one I can remember is the buying out of Frantisek Kaberle's contract several years ago. Kaberle scored the game-winning goal in game seven and he was given a five year contract afterward, but his best years were behind him.
So that is option one, a buy-out.
Another option is a trade and there is no doubt that Francis will be working hard on this. Rumor had it that the GM was offering up Semin at the trade deadline, with the Canes retaining up to half of his salary. That is cheaper than a buy-out, but still very expensive. Would another team take a chance on Semin at $3.5 million a year for three years?
If a trade were to be accomplished, it's more likely it would be an exchange of "toxic contracts".
When you look around the league, Semin is not the only player to have a bad year. The question is, is one bad contract any better than another?
The Los Angeles Kings sent Mike Richards down to the AHL this season and he is rumored to be a possible buy-out. Richards is a former 30 goal scorer and Flyers captain. This past season, he had just five goals and 11 assists in 53 games, but did work hard when he was sent down and was almost a point per game player in Manchester.
Richards is owed $
19 $22 million over four five years, (6,5.5,4.5,3, 3) a bit more than Semin and longer term. But he might be a better fit in Carolina under Peters. Rather than buy him out, the Kings might be convinced to make a trade if the Canes retain some of Semin's salary. (NHL Numbers) Would the Canes or Kings be interested in this?
Another potential outcast is Vincent Lecavalier. He is rumored to be on his way out in Philadelphia. Vinny had eight goals and 12 assists in 57 games this season. He is owed $10.5 million over the next three years, much less than Semin, but with some creativity who knows?
Some might scoff about the possibility of these trades, but after the David Clarkson - Nathan Horton deal, it seems that anything is possible.
So option two is a trade of toxic contracts.
The final possibility and the easiest one, is to just wait until next year and see what happens. Semin's production can't be any worst than this season can it? Perhaps things will be better next season as the player gets used to the coach's system.
One bad thing about waiting til next year though is that if the organization goes this rout, they would have to wait until the end of the season for another opportunity for a buy-out. A buy-out has to be completed by June 30th so that the player has the opportunity to fully utilize free agency. If they do not buy him out by June 30th, they have to wait until the end of the next season for that option.
Ron Francis has a lot on his plate this offseason, but you would have to think that this situation is a high priority.
What would you do?