As the offseason begins, we’ll take a player-by-player look at the year that was for the Washington Capitals.
Contract status: $6 million in 2010-11, $6.7 million in 2011-12.
The year that was: Alexander Semin started this past season with his offensive capabilities on display. The Russian winger recorded 30 points in the first two months — a stretch that included three hat tricks — and showed his true value to a team when at his best.
In December, though, as the Capitals went through their roughest portion of the year, so did Semin. He suffered a groin muscle injury, missing time then coming back, but at a noticeably not full capacity, before missing 12 consecutive games from January through to early February.
It was during that layoff that the Capitals signed Semin to a one-year contract extension worth $6.7 million for the upcoming season. The short term was at Semin’s request, according to General Manager George McPhee, and it marked the second straight season that the winger opted for a one-year deal to remain in Washington.
Over the course of Semin’s career, questions about his contentment in the NHL and North America, for that matter, have been posed, but early in the year, he gave no indication that he wanted to leave. “Everything is going well here,” Semin said at the time. “I want to continue winning, to stay here. I want to win the Cup here. It’s a good team, with good coaches and training staff.”
In the Capitals’ first-round series against the Rangers, Semin recorded four points (three goals), including the overtime winner in Game 1 against New York to put his postseason struggles from the spring of 2010 firmly behind him. He would add two more points in the next round against Tampa Bay, but he was also on the ice for six of the Lightning’s 16 goals in the series.
Looking ahead: For all the offensive talent Semin possesses, his top criticism is often the lack of consistency in displaying those skills. He was hindered by his groin injury, when his production took the sharpest dropoff during the year, but he could run hot and cold. His 28 goals in the regular season were second most for the Capitals, behind only Alex Ovechkin, but with four hat tricks, 12 of those goals were confined to just four games.
Semin has also been rumored to be one of the movable pieces of the Capitals’ roster at various points in this most recently completed season and in years past. Whether he remains with the team that drafted him to play out the one-year extension he signed will be up to McPhee.