Neither Alexander Semin nor the Washington Capitals were comfortable pursuing a long-term deal for the winger's contract extension, according to a league source who said the maximum length the team offered Semin was a two years.
The Capitals announced Thursday that they've signed Semin to a one-year, $6.7 million contract extension that does not include a no-movement or no-trade clauses. Earlier today on a conference call with reporters including colleague Tarik El-Bashir, General Manager George McPhee said the agreement had nothing to do with the Feb. 28 trade deadline and that the team approached negotiations open to the possibility of a longer-term.
"We were wide open to [long-term extension] discussions. We said we could do one, two, three years or longer if you want to talk about it. We were open-minded about whatever you would like to do here. The player came back and said they were comfortable with a one or a two, and last week said a one year deal would be fine. And we said, 'Okay.' After that, it was a matter of working up a number. It was done this week."
Part of the reason for the hesitation to move forward with a longer agreement, according to the league source, was uncertainty of the conditions that will be in place after the NHL's collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2011-12 season.
Semin is third on the team in points (35) and second in goals (18) but has missed the past nine games with a groin muscle injury. His rapid point production through the first two months of the season had tapered off prior to the injury as well with Semin recording just five points in 14 games since Dec. 1.
But when healthy, Semin is arguably unmatched in offensive creativity, and the Capitals believe he should help awaken their scoring ability and perhaps even the power play when he returns from injury. McPhee said he expects Semin to rejoin the lineup next week.
Semin's agent, Mark Gandler, said there is no reason to read into the length of the extension because it was the player's first choice to stay in Washington and not venture into unrestricted free agency.
"There was no reason to test the market," Gandler said. "He knows what he's going to get and what he's going to have here [with Washington]. He really enjoys his time in D.C., the organization and his teammates. ... There was no reason to change something that is working for him and we feel that he is wanted on the team."