The other day I saw a comment on a Carolina Hurricanes fan page that read “Stanley Cup here we come” after the Alexander Semin signing was announced. Perhaps it’s because I’m a Philadelphia Eagles fan and had to endure the whole”Dream Team” debacle just last year, but I’m a little leery of crowning the Hurricanes Stanley Cup champions at this point. I mean, they haven’t even dropped the puck on training camp yet (WARNING: Do not point this out on any ‘Canes discussion boards, you will be crucified…….instantly)! Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t hate this signing. I just can’t really show much enthusiasm about it until after I see what Semin brings night in and night out. The reason I’m not scurrying to file my Storm Squad application is that there are a few red flags that concern me both about Semin himself and the roster in general.
- For starters, Alexander Semin was JR’s third choice (that we know of). Zach Parise and Rick Nash were the offensive players that were targeted first, Semin was only signed because JR couldn’t swing a deal for either of those players. I wouldn’t have paid the asking price for Parise and I wouldn’t have mortgaged the future for Nash, so Semin was a suitable tertiary choice, certainly not a best case scenario, Stanley Cup winning addition though. If he was the perfect fit for our new beefed up first line he would’ve been targeted sooner, perhaps even before any other players. The front office wanted Jordan Staal and made a deal happen as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Why can’t the same be said for Semin?
- Don’t forget, Semin wanted a long term deal that most pundits said would pay around $5.5MM annually. JR (wisely) wasn’t ready to commit for that long. So, he did overpay a bit for this one season, but not as much as he would be overpaying if this experiment doesn’t work and we were stuck with him for 4 more seasons. The fact that he was only signed for a single season makes me a even more wary of all the premature celebration. If the ‘Canes front office had supreme confidence in Semin and didn’t question his effort, he would have been signed long term (again, see J. Staal).
- Let’s also consider that Semin, the scoring threat that he is, was still available 25 days after free agency began. That means that some other teams weren’t willing to take the chance on him despite his gaudy offensive stats. Once again as a parallel, I had this same trepidation about Terrell Owens when he was acquired by the Eagles back in ’04. Owens had similar baggage claims (see what I did there?) about him at the time as does Semin presently. Most of the headlines I read regarding this deal were things like “Positives Outweigh the Negatives for Semin” or “Is Semin Worth the Risk?” If I’m asking that question, or having to weigh out the pros and cons, why would I be overly hyped about this signing? If he ends up being as much of a cancer in the locker room as
O.D.T.O. was, I wouldn’t consider this a good acquisition.
- Semin doesn’t play net. As a matter of fact, the only player on the active roster that really does is Cam (Sorry Pete-Dawg). What if #30 goes down long term with another leg or back injury? What are our chances then? Are we still Cup contenders with Justin Peters in net for 35 games?
- Not enough reasons for you? One word. Defense. Just go look at it.
So, while this signing does instantly upgrade our offense, I think we are a far cry from a Stanley Cup roster. Look, JR’s job is to sell the fans on why moves are made and to assure us that those decisions are best for the organization. But, just because he says it, doesn’t mean he’s right. He is fallible and has made mistakes before. This could be another. Only time will tell. Hockey is a superstitious sport, and I tend to fall in line (when it comes to sports at least). Because of that, I’m not willing to make such bold and boastful statements because I’ve seen it back fire one too many times.
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