The NHL free agency period begins Sunday at noon and Alexander Semin appears poised to hit the open market in search of a long-term contract.
Mark Gandler, Semin’s agent, said there have been no contract negotiations with the Capitals. Barring a last-minute offer, the Russian winger’s tenure with the team is over.
“It represents a big change for my client and it’s a bit of a nerve-racking process when you don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Gandler, who reiterated that Semin wants to play in North America. Gandler said the threat of a lockout — the league’s collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15, and talks on a new deal opened this week — is not a concern.
“Nothing’s changed my mind that things are looking good for free agency because of the increased [salary] cap, lack of competition and the need that teams have for a player like Alex,” Gandler said. “You can’t let your team stagnate, you have to bring in fresh blood offensively.”
While Semin’s commitment level has consistently drawn criticism throughout his career, the 28-year-old is one of the few top-six scoring wingers available in this year’s free agent pool. He will likely have several suitors among those who miss out on the sweepstakes for top prize Zach Parise.
It’s possible Washington could trade Semin prior to the start of free agency, but that appears unlikely.
Gandler said the Capitals have not granted permission for him to speak with another team and possibly pave the way for a trade. Earlier this summer, Washington traded the rights of Dennis Wideman and Tomas Vokoun to Calgary and Pittsburgh, respectively, after allowing those players to work out another deal.
“For us, it’s irrelevant at this point,” Gandler said of a possible trade scenario. “If the Capitals trade Alex’s rights, that will be fine. If they don’t trade Alex’s rights, that will be fine. We’re just focused on finding the right team for Alex.”
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