(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Alexander Semin is one of six Capitals players set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but his agent made it clear on Monday that the team’s current style of play doesn’t make best use of the winger.

 While Semin’s agent, Mark Gandler, wouldn’t rule out the possibility of his client returning to Washington, at this point it seems unlikely.

“We need to see where they see the team going, which direction and then we’ll talk to management and see if we’re going the same way,” Gandler said in a phone interview. “If they need Alex we’ll talk. If they don’t need Alex, as they did not need him this year, then there’s no reason to be together. Then they won’t be paying a lot of money and Alex won’t be wasting his career.”

Semin signed a one-year, $6.7 million contract extension last January. The 2011-12 campaign marked his seventh NHL season and saw him average 16 minutes, 47 seconds of ice time – his lowest playing time since his rookie campaign in 2003-04. Semin recorded 21 goals, 54 points and finished a plus-9 in 77 games this year.

Gandler said that Semin was displeased with the decrease in his ice time, particularly the absence of any opportunity to play on the penalty kill — Semin played just 1 minute, 13 seconds shorthanded in the regular season and playoffs combined — and that the skilled Russian forward wants more responsibility.

Even with a new coach coming in next season, unless Washington’s approach to using Semin changes, it doesn’t appear as though he will return.

“He doesn’t want to be a part-time player, a role player. He wants to be a full-time player,” said Gandler, who added that the Capitals told Semin how he would be used in the summer. “Over the course of the year he tried to do what he needed to do to continue to play, play as well as he could under the circumstances….So while it was hard, Alex was a team guy, he tried to play whoever he plays with or however few minutes he’s on. They were looking to give everyone ice time except Alex.”

Gandler was adamant that Semin intends to stay in North America and said that it’s “not a question” that he wants to sign another NHL contract, rather than consider options that might exist for him in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

“I expect that there will be interest,” Gandler said of what Semin could garner on the free agent market. “There’s very few players in the NHL like Alex, let alone on the market. He’s a healthy young man in the peak of his career; there’s going to be interest. We need to find a team that looks to be with Alex for long term and likes the brand of hockey that he brings.”

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