Alexander Semin signs one-year, $6.7 million contract extension with the Capitals

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 28, 2011; 12:05 AM

For the second straight season, Capitals forward Alexander Semin has decided to extend his stay in Washington - but for only one season. The talented winger signed a one-year contract extension Thursday that runs through the 2011-12 season.

Semin, 26, has missed the past nine games because of a groin muscle injury, but he remains the team's second-leadin g goal scorer and third-best point scorer. He will earn $6.7 million next season, a $700,000 raise from his current salary, in a deal that does not include a no-trade or no movement clause.

It's the second straight year Semin elected to extend his stay with the Capitals by one season. This time, because he would have been an unrestricted free agent, he passed up the opportunity to test the open market, where he likely would have commanded more than $7 million per season.

"There was no reason to test the market," Semin's agent, Mark 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. . . . There was no reason to change something that is working for him, and we feel that he is wanted on the team."

Capitals General Manager George McPhee told reporters he entered negotiations open to the possibility of a longer-term deal but that Semin and his agent preferred a one-year deal. According to a league source, the maximum length Washington offered was two years.

McPhee also hinted that the timing of the deal had no correlation to the approaching NHL trade deadline Feb. 28.

"Alex was going to be with us anyway, so extending his deal a year really doesn't change anything, you know?" McPhee said.

"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 Semin's hesitation about a longer agreement, according to the league source, stemmed from uncertainty of the conditions governing player contracts that will be in place once the NHL's collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2011-12 season.

As for the amount the two sides settled on, McPhee said it came with consideration that top-line center Nicklas Backstrom earns $6.7 million per season.

"We just didn't feel that it would be fair to go beyond that," McPhee said. "They are two really talented players. I wouldn't call it a ceiling, but we just thought if the two of them were at that number, then everyone would be comfortable with that."

Semin is expected to return to the Capitals' lineup next week, and the team hopes he can help jolt Washington's dormant offense and ineffective power play out of their slumps. But Semin hadn't scored a goal in his previous 14 games before the injury, cooling off after recording 30 of his 35 points this season in October and November.

Capitals note: Washington reassigned forwards Jay Beagle and Mathieu Perreault along with goalie Braden Holtby to the American Hockey League's Hershey Bears. Holtby will participate in the AHL all-star events Sunday and Monday in Hershey, Pa.

Staff writer Tarik El-Bashir contributed to this story.

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