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Checking Up on Alex Semin

Posted January 30, 2016

For years, fans of the Washington Capitals marveled at the skill and innate unpredictability of superstar sidekick Alexander Semin. From struggles with how to pronounce his name (Fun fact: It’s actually pronounced more like S-yo-min than S-eh-min, and should never be pronounced See-min) and the controversy around his military obligations while under contract with the Capitals, Semin didn’t get the warmest start to the league.

Since his return, Semin continued to make a name for himself around the league as perhaps the most valuable enigma. Despite scoring at least 20 goals-per-season while with the Capitals, Semin remained a question mark for many because of his injury history and lack of consistency on the ice. For those who liked him, his enigmatic tendencies were endearing, leading to many nicknames and inside jokes, such as the Sasha/Semin Hat-Trick, based on his penchant for taking stick penalties and often scoring in the same game.

Sasha Hat Trick

His success with the Capitals and their fans (perhaps aided by his inclusion in the fan-favorite “Young Guns” which also featured Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and former Capital Mike Green) was not repeated on other teams. Skepticism and speculation gave Semin had a harder time appealing to new fans in both Carolina and Montreal as he struggled to find his place on either roster as a much smaller role. Being bought out of his Hurricanes contract after two of five years, many thought Semin would head back to the KHL, with several teams showing high-priced interest.

However, his determination to stay in the NHL made the Canadiens’ one year, $1.1 million deal an initially a positive sign for Semin fans, as his style of play could have easily fit their team. However, after ten games Semin became a regular healthy scratch, it became clear he wouldn’t fit with coach Michel Therrien‘s team, eventually leading to his contract termination with just four points in fifteen games.

After clearing waivers, Semin headed back to Russia, joining former Capital Wojtek Wolski (who has 16 goals and 29 assists in 49 games this season) on the division-leading Metallurg Magnitogorsk. How is Sasha doing? So far, things seem to be looking up. In fifteen games, he has scored 5 goals and 7 assists, with a point-matching 12 PIM in true Sasha style.

On a more constructive note, the lack of NHL media frenzy and the return to his native European-style hockey seems to have recharged his enthusiasm for the game. Many things can be said about the KHL, but despite being considered an inferior league to the NHL, the good teams are good, and Magnitogorsk is one of those good teams.

That’s not to say he should stay if he gets another chance at the NHL, however likely or unlikely that may be. At 31, he still has the skill and potential to play in the NHL , but that would all depend on if there’s team willing to take a chance or if he even wants to come back. The ever so private Russian, who almost flew under the radar with a private wedding back in 2014, quietly welcomed a son, Alexander, in August, 2015. The recent addition to his family could give him reason besides hockey to stay in Russia, close to family and friends.

Semin’s contract is only for the remainder of the season, meaning there is a chance he could try to come back to the NHL for next season, perhaps re-sign with Magnitogorsk, or go elsewhere in the KHL. It might be worthy of note that he has past ties to a number of clubs, including Traktor Chelyabinsk, Dynamo Moscow, and Lada Togliatti, though one guess is as good as any when it comes to what’s next for Alex Semin.

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