The Hurricanes one-year gamble on Alexander Semin turned out better than just about anyone could have expected. GM Jim Rutherford may have been a little reluctant to sign the "enigmatic" Russian winger, but he ended up getting his money's worth as Semin was a point-per-game player in his first year with the Canes. Not only that, but he played a solid game in all three zones and gave them another elite play-maker & scorer on their first line. Carolina's coaching staff used Semin in all situations and he responded by having one of the best seasons of his career and making Carolina's first line one of the most dangerous units in the NHL.
Semin was rewarded for this with a five-year contract extension and will be paid $7 mil. per season during that time. With Semin being in his late 20's, this deal has the potential of being bad value in the long-term, but offense is not cheap and replacing a player of Semin's caliber would have been very difficult. This is why I don't have much of a problem with the extension. The question is whether or not Semin can repeat what he did last year and give the Hurricanes elite-level production.
He is certainly capable of doing so if you look at his past stats. Semin's had trouble staying healthy, but he has produced at very high rates over his career and some of those came with second line minutes in Washington. If Kirk Muller continues to use Semin in just about every situation possible, one would think that he could be a point-per-game player in a full season. Doing that over 82 games isn't easy, though and it's even more difficult for players in their late 20's to produce at such a high level. Semin is a special talent, though and he will get every opportunity to produce, so it is believable that he can have another big year and possibly lead the Hurricanes in points.
After the jump, we'll go over some realistic expectations for him in 2013-14.
Even Strength Production
Aside from his rookie season, Semin has been able to produce at first line rates for his entire career. Even during his "down" seasons, he still produced over two points per 60 minutes at even strength, which just shows how good of a player he is. Semin is actually coming off his worst season in terms of even strength goal-scoring but he was able to make up for it by recording a ton of primary assists. This isn't the first time that Semin has shined as a play-maker, but he has never recorded this many assists before so it will be interesting to see if it holds up over a full season. I mentioned that the first line saw a lot of bounces go their way, but how much of Semin's success was driven by it?
|5v5 TOI||Shots/60||Shooting%||SF/60||Team Sh%||Assist%|
Semin has been shooting the puck less in recent seasons, which explains his why his goal total has gone down but he didn't have much puck luck last year. His shooting percentage at even strength was the lowest it had been in his career and I would expect that to regress toward his career average next season, which is about 12.9%. Shooting percentage tends to be random, but Semin is normally a great finisher, so I think it's fair to expect more goals out of him next year. Even if he is shooting the puck less, he is still getting at least 9-10 shots on goal per 60 minutes at even strength (this isn't even counting the times he hit the post) and can score at a high rate if a few more bounces go his way.
Assuming Semin plays about 15-16 minutes per game at even strength and registers about 9.5 shots per 60 minutes, he should be able to score 20-24 goals at even strength if his shooting percentage regresses toward his career average of 12.9%.
His on-ice shooting percentage is probably a different story. Semin is a good play-maker and has sustained a high on-ice shooting percentage over his career, but it's rare for any team to shoot at such a high rate with one player on the ice in a full season. Only four regular forwards did that in 2011-12 and only three did it the year before, so I would bank on Semin's on-ice shooting percentage going down this year.
That being said, he might be able to post a high assist rate despite that because of the amount of offense he produces. The Hurricanes registered over 33 even strength shots on goal with him on the ice last season and should be able to do that again this year if the first line stays intact. If Semin stays healthy and his shot rate stays consistent, he could be on the ice for at least even strength goals depending on what his on-ice shooting percentage is. That might sound lofty, but he has done it before (2009-10) and was on-pace to do it in other seasons (2008-09, 2012-13). With how much the Hurricanes use him, he might be able to do that again if he plays all 82 games.
Power Play Production
Semin has been a great producer at even strength, but he is also capable of doing some serious damage on the power play. He was absolutely lethal there during his prime years with the Caps and was pretty solid with the Canes last year, too. He may never be as good as he was earlier in his career but he has still produced at a pretty high level the last few seasons and his goal-scoring rate was about in line with his career average last season. Is this what we can expect from Semin next year or can he do more?
|5v4 TOI||PP Shots/60||PP Shooting%||PP SF/60||PP Team Sh%||Assist%|
After two years of restricted usage on Washington's power play, Semin was one of the Canes most utilized weapons with the man advantage. He played a little over three minutes per game and was sometimes used on both power play units. I would expect this to continue this season because the Canes don't have a ton of options on their power play and Semin is too good to have his minutes cut back. Aside from his final year in Washington (when Dale Hunter put the clamp down on Washington's offense), Semin has been capable of producing a lot of shots on the power play and could put up some big numbers this season.
His four goals & eight points last year would pro-rate to about 14-15 points in a full-82 game season and when you take his career low on-ice shooting percentage into account, it's fair to expect him to have a better year on the power play. His assist rate was also at a career low, so he could be in store for a big year if he shot rates remain constant.
Semin should see his shooting percentage regress toward his career average next season, resulting in him having about 20-24 goals at at even strength. Some of that production will probably be negated by his on-ice shooting percentage going down, though. I'm not sure how much it will affect his assist total, but given how much offense his teams produce (32-35 shots per 60 minutes) he could still be on the ice for 50-60 goals even if his shooting percentage regresses. We also know that Semin is capable of elevating the shooting percentage of his linemates, so he might be able to sustain an on-ice shooting percentage of about 9-10%. Should that happen, Semin could record 19-27 assists in a full season. Possibly more depending on how many shots he is on the ice for.
On the power play, Semin is likely going to get at least three minutes per game with the man advantage and is capable of recording 9-11 shots per 60 minutes. Assuming that happens and he shoots at his career average, he could end the year with 4-7 power play goals. His assist total should be a little better than last season because I don't expect the Hurricanes to shoot at only 8.5% with him on the ice this year. If the Canes continue to produce 50+ shots with him on the ice, Semin could end up with anywhere from 10-14 assists on the power play.
Last year was sort of a "down" year for him in terms of power play assists, so that is prone to pick back up if the Canes shooting percentage goes back to normal.
This could be an interesting year for Semin because while he should have more goals, he is prone to regress in other areas. However, he is also an elite player and has been able to post some ridiculous numbers in the past. Now that he is getting first line minutes, it's very possible that he could return to that level and be a 70+ point player in a full-season. He's had some injury troubles in the past, so it will be a challenge for him to play in all 82 games but if that happens, it wouldn't shock me if he leads the Hurricanes in points. Overall, I am projecting Semin to have anywhere from 53-72 points in a full year.