I'd say that the consensus amongst Flyers fans is that nobody likes the idea of the Flyers signing Washington Capitals right wing Alexander Semin. Semin is a divisive figure, within 24 hours Puck Daddy posted articles arguing for and against Alex Semin.There are a lot of reasons for that. He has tons of skill and his stats that make him one of the highest scoring UFA's to hit the market in the past few years. But with Semin comes a lot of problems, the biggest is probably that he is perceived as a locker room cancer. This may be true, I don't know. I know Pierre McGuire said he was on national TV, but I don't follow the Caps well enough to declare someone a harmful teammate. If Semin is a locker room nuisance it could possibly be due to his relationship with Alexander Ovechkin. Ovie is a diva and always gets his way (you don't have to follow the Caps close to know that, it's national news). There is a chance that moving Semin away from Ovechkin could help change his attitude and his work ethic. Yet, teams are still tentative about signing the super star right wing. Most people didn't rank him as one of the top UFA's on the market this year, even though he is the most potent scorer on the market. So should the Flyers go after a super star with personality issues?
There is no denying Semin's has game breaking skill. He's put up 386 points in the last six seasons. That stacks up very well to the other players that are or were available this off-season. In that same time period Rick Nash has put up 407 points but played in over 50 more games. Zach Parise put up only 378 points playing in four more games than Semin. Since coming into the league full time Bobby Ryan has a point per game average of .806; Semin has a PPG average of .925 over a longer period of time. I know some of Semin's point production can be attributed to Semin playing with Ovechkin, but you can't deny Semin's skill. If you put Semin on a line with Giroux he could put up similar or even better numbers than he did with Ovechkin, since Giroux is more of a play maker than a goal scorer. Semin doesn't have the leadership that a player like Parise or Nash provides, or the physicality of Bobby Ryan, but he is the best pure scorer on the market.
Now the Flyers are familiar with Russians with personality issues. I think we all remember how Nikolai Zherdev worked out. But I think Semin is different. First because Zherdev's best seasons would we some of Semin's worst seasons, and Zherdev played with skilled guys like Nash in Columbus. Two, Zherdev bailed on the NHL early. He played in Russia during a contract dispute. He left for the KHL when he was 24 years old, Zherdev always had one foot out the door in the NHL. There are rumors floating around that Semin has a contract offer from CSKA Moscow worth $10 million dollars a year for three years. Semin knows he wont get that money in the NHL, so the fact that he hasn't jumped at that offer shows that he still has a desire to play in the NHL. And that is a big deal. Wouldn't a selfish player only care about making the most money? Would a player who only likes playing with other super star Russians wont to go play with Alex Radulov in Moscow? If Semin is the player that most people in the media contend he is he would have already fled to the KHL. It's a common fear in the NHL nowadays that every Russian player is biding their time North America before they can run off and make a big fat paycheck in the KHL. Well that paycheck is staring Alex Semin in the face yet he continues to sit awkwardly by the phone waiting for an NHL team to call, getting mocked and ridiculed more and more as each day passes. Yet he still waits hoping that someone will call and offer him half of what CSKA Moscow is willing to pay him so he can take and play in the best league in the world. Is that a selfish, cancerous player?
Now, every team that has been said to be in on Semin has an over abundance of veteran leadership. The Flyers don't necessarily have a ton of vets, besides Timonen, Briere, and Fedotenko, Semin would be the oldest everyday player. The need for veteran leadership is because the big worry with signing Semin is that he could be a bad influence on young players. Our top two young players, Schenn and Couturier, already have other players they already look up to. Briere, Giroux, and Talbot have been helping those young players along since they got on the team. Adding Luke Schenn will probably only help with keeping Brayden on the straight and narrow. Other young players like Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek have played in the league almost as long as Semin has and wouldn't idolize him. They would probably approach him with some trepidation knowing his reputation. I wouldn't worry about Semin being a bad influence on the Flyers younger players.
Obviously Semin isn't the Flyers first option. The Flyers, and most of the league, probably wont make a move until the City of Glendale decide what's going to happen with the Coyotes. That's when Shane Doan will decide if he will test free agency. If the Coyotes stay in Phoenix, Doan will stay in Phoenix, but if the Coyotes leave the desert than Doan will field offers from other teams. If Doan stays in Phoenix or signs somewhere other than Philadelphia than the Flyers will probably weigh their trade options as they have been doing all off-season. Everyone knows the biggest names out there: Bobby Ryan and Rick Nash. I feel that neither will be wearing orange and black this fall because the asking price for either player is simply is too high. They want Brayden Schenn and/or Sean Couturier and the Flyers wont give them up. Fans can talk until their blue in the face about how trading Foward-X, Defenseman-Y, and Draft Pick-Z to either Anaheim of Columbus for Ryan or Nash will work, but if Schenn and/or Couturier aren't part of the deal, it probably isn't happening. The Flyers wouldn't have to give up any assets to acquire Alex Semin, so bringing him in is less risky than going out and getting either Ryan or Nash in exchange for blue chip prospects.
This collection of stats from /r/hockey show that Semin isn't nearly the detriment that he is perceived as in the mainstream hockey media. So should the Flyers gamble on Alex Semin? The Flyers have a mentally tough group of young forwards, a superstar to facilitate Semin's skill, a team free of divas, and a no nonsense coach to crack the whip. It's the perfect environment for Semin to succeed and his desire to prove the doubters wrong could get Semin back in point per game form. But you can't ignore everything that has been said about Semin, so yes he still is a gamble. But it's a gamble that could score huge dividends and a gamble I think the Flyers should take.
It takes a long time to change public perceptions. Ilya Kovalchuk is still fighting off accusations of being a selfish player, even tough he has been a team first player ever since resigning in New Jersey. Kovalchuk's attitude changed when he was in his late twenties, maybe the 28 year old Semin could be next. As the philosopher Laozi said "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". The journey from maligned malcontent to respectable star has to start somewhere and I think it can start in Philadelphia.
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