One would imagine than a pending NHL Free Agent with a total of 408 Points in 469 Games (0.87 Points Per Game) would be snatched off the market the moment he became available. He'd likely receive not only a high salary but a long term on the contract.
However, as we sit here three weeks past the start of the Free Agency period, one of the best scorers in the game, Alexander Semin (197 Goals or 0.47 Goals Per Game), sits without a contract.
The reason is simple, he has a reputation that suggests teams fear that he will do far more damage to the team than what his point production could ever hope to do. Outside of innuendo and rumor, it's hard to quantify the true negative impact that he does have on a team with is questioned attitude.
But what can be quantified, is his ability to produce for a team and put the puck into the net.
Let's breakdown his preformance since he entered the league to get a sense of what a team will be getting in actual production:
Consistent Point Producer
Looking at the last four years of Semin's career in the NHL, we see a player that has played between 60 and 80 games a season and produced between 50-85 points per season. His best season came in 2009 when he put up 84 points in 73 games - 1.15 Points Per Game.
In 2008 and 2009, Semin was producing above a point per game and was in fact the 6th and 7th ranked player in those seasons, respectively, on a points per game basis. Clearly, he is a top end talent.
However, we do see a dropoff in the last two years in his point production with two consecutive seasons of 54 points - 0.83 (2010) and 0.77 (2011) Points Per Game. This is obviously an important thing to consider and could also be a factor in teams reluctance to sign the dynamic Russian.
But if we take into consideration the offensive production of the Washington Capitals as a whole, we can paint a clearer picture. In the last four seasons, we've seen the goal production of the Capitals go from 268 to 313 to 219 to 218. If we compare that to Semin's point production, we see that he was involved, by either goal or assist, in 29.5%, 26.8%, 24.7% and 24.8% of the teams goals.
Semin puts up points. A team that adds him to their roster is likely to see this trend continue and they may get him at a discount because of the culture shift to defense that occured in Washington the past two years - case in point Alex Ovechkin who didn't even finish in the Top 30 of scorers last season.
Not A Liability On The Ice
He may be a liability in the locker room but one place where he isn't is on the ice. Semin is a career plus-65.
And while he has been fortunate to be a part of teams that produce offensively, he has grown into a reliable player as illustrated by the chart above. In fact, his best performance may have come last season when he went +9 compared to a team plus-minus of -8 while Ovechkin was -8.
Further to this, if we take a look at Semin's Takeaways and Giveaways, we can see a clear improvement in his game.
Overall, in the above chart, we see that Semin is a slight career negative on Takeaways to Giveaways (-11) but has greatly reduced the gap since a very giveaway heavy season in 2006 (-41). Since that '06 season, he has been a positive player in the takeaways.
Semin isn't all points. A team that adds him to their roster is likely to find a guy that can handle himself on both sides of the ice.
Even Strength Producer
If we look deeper into the point production of Semin, we find an interesting detail in his strong even strength point production.
For the last four years, from 2008 to 2011, he has even strength points of 47, 55, 35 and 43 respectively. Comparing this to his overall point totals, we see that 59%, 65%, 65% and 80% of his points came when the Capitals were at even strength.
Semin isn't one to rely on easy scoring situations for his production. A team that adds him to their roster is likely getting a guy that will continue to produce at a high level regardless of situation.
So Why The Delay?
The above has touched on a lot of the positive attributes of Alexander Semin and what a team would get in him based off his past production. While it's hard to comment on his reputation as a cancer in the locker room and is coach-killing ways, it's equally as to imagine him going on unsigned for much longer.
Based on his production and his age (28), he should've received a contract of 5-7 years at a rate of $7M+. But due to his reputation, it's far more likely that he will get 1 or 2 years at a rate of $6-7M.
As is being shown by the delay in his signing, it pays to have a great reputation.
Editor's Note: Semin signed a 1-year $7M contract with the Carolina Hurricanes.