The Washington Capitals have always wanted Alexander Semin to score. His $6.7 million salary this season was fit for a sniper who fills up the net.
Semin, who scored 21 goals this season, the fewest since his rookie year, wants to be used in more than just a scoring role, according to agent Mark Gandler. Semin's agent said Tuesday that the 28-year-old winger needs a place where he's given more opportunities.
"Alex has been a shining example of a sense of player's responsibility to his defensive obligations. Look at his plus-minus or look at just the game," Gandler said in a phone conversation. "He's always first guy back. He plays great in short-handed situations. He is not a slacker. He doesn't hang on the red line. He has so much to give to whatever team wants to give him a full-time player role. That's where we are."
Gandler made it clear that he wasn't eliminating the Caps from consideration, though that would depend on how the team approaches next season and the coaching change. He was not pleased with Semin being something of a role player under Dale Hunter. The winger averaged 16:47 of ice time, the lowest since his rookie season.
"Alex was not used on penalty kill, he wasn't used at the end of the game, and he generally had a very reduced role. He barely played in overtime, barely plays four-on-four. Basically was taken out of the equation," he said. "So if another coach comes in, I don't know how that changes the team direction. The team has to change the direction, the organization. And if they choose how they're going to do business, that's fine. But Alex is not prepared to continue in this role."
With prospect Evgeni Kuznetsov's decision to remain in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League for next season and possibly another after that, George McPhee was asked if that would affect Semin's status.
"Trying to give you some specifics on those different issues, I'd just be speculating," the tight-lipped general manager said. "So you'll know just after I know as we move along here and get things done."
To get things done with Semin, the Capitals would have to offer more than just one year.
"I'm not going to negotiate a deal through the press. But I think it's suffice to say that we're looking for a term of years," Gandler said.
Term and money matter, but those are not the only factors.
"First, it has to be about hockey," Gandler said. "If it's not going to be satisfying to play, there's no reason to sign."
Semin won't consider going to the KHL, Gandler said.
The 28-year-old who has refused to do interviews in English in his seventh NHL season spoke with the popular Caps blog Russian Machine Never Breaks on Monday but didn't have much to say about free agency.
"There is nothing to say on that, and even if there were, I wouldn't tell you," he told Igor Kleyner in a Russian interview. "For now, I just don't know."
Teammate and friend Alex Ovechkin said he'd like Semin to return.
"Of course. I want to see everybody back next year, but again I hope he's going to stay here, I don't want to leave him," Ovechkin said Monday. "It's George's decision, it's Sasha's decision, it's Sasha's agent decision."
According to Semin's agent, that's a decision for the Caps' front office.
"If the Capitals would like Alex to continue to play for the Capitals, then they need to tell us what direction the team will take because what it used to be to what it is now, it's a completely different direction," Gandler said. "We're concerned the role that Alex plays in that scheme of things. Obviously, if they continue the same path, they'll choose a coach that subscribes to that philosophy. Whoever the coach is going to be is not as important as what the management decides on the direction of the team for the next number of years."
If the direction remains the same, it's likely the next number of years will be spent elsewhere.
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