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Posted at 2:36 PM ET, 01/28/2011

The implications of Semin's short-term deal

By Nicole Weissman

This week Alex Semin signed a one-year, $6.7 million contract to stay with the Caps through next season. On a Capitals Insider poll, 50 percent of readers are saying they’re happy with the deal because Semin’s offensive skills are an asset to the team. But what do we know about this deal, and is there significance to it being short-term?

We know that the February 28th trade deadline supposedly was not a factor in this contract extension, but that the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement at the end of the 2011-12 season may have been. We know that a long-term discussion was on the table as far as the Caps were concerned, but that Semin opted for a short-term deal, though his agent insists we shouldn’t read into that. Finally, we know that the contract doesn’t include any no-move or no-trade clause, also something I’m sure the team would encourage us not to read into.

The truth is that this post’s title is misleading, because I don’t believe there are many implications in this deal. We Caps fans have been spoiled by Ovechkin and Backstrom’s long-term contracts, so we’re attached to the idea of knowing what our team will look like far into the future. Outside of those examples, though, long-term contracts aren’t really the norm, especially as teams continue to adjust to the salary cap. Sure, most players at Semin’s level will earn a blockbuster contract of some kind eventually, but often at their own insistence.

So why didn’t he demand a large contract? Semin is, I imagine, gambling that his value will increase over the next year, which I think is a reasonable bet. League wide, Semin is underappreciated, largely because he’s so streaky. An unproductive streak and a groin injury in recent weeks combined to leave him not exactly at the top of his game going into these contract negotiations.

Caps fans seem to agree that this was the right move, both for Semin and for the team. Only 12 percent of fans who answered the Insider poll felt that a long-term contract would have been preferable. He is a source of much contention in fan discussions, but I think “I like him, but I wouldn’t go to the mat to keep him here forever,” is a feeling a lot of fans can relate to. A one-year contract that leaves all the options on the table fits that sentiment perfectly.

Do you agree that you like Semin, but you don’t think he’s crucial to the team? How do you think this story ends for Semin? In a trade? A long-term contract here? Free agency at the end of next year?

By Nicole Weissman  | January 28, 2011; 2:36 PM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  | Tags:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  
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Comments

I think if we haven't won the Stanley Cup by June 2012 he's back in Russia.

The question is - will the Caps trade him before then?

Posted by: CF11555 | January 28, 2011 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I do not see Semin signing a long term contract with any team. He's too skittish about staying in the USA. I agree with the other poster, he'll be back in Russia eventually.

That said... I would love it if he signed a long term contract with the Caps.

Posted by: Sven62 | January 28, 2011 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Anybody who has watched this team struggle to score over the past couple of weeks should realize just how valuable he is to this team. Which is why McPhee was willing to give him a long-term deal.

Even if Semin isn't playing on the first line or in a slump of his own, he brings a scoring threat that other teams must respect and that opens things up for everybody else.

Not to mention, he is one of our better penalty killers too.

Posted by: CapsNut | January 29, 2011 6:57 AM | Report abuse

Another benefit from Semin's perspective in signing the one year deal... he has to realize that he's one of the most likely players to be dealt if the Caps fail in the playoffs this year (esp if he struggles again). This way, even if he gets shipped off to somewhere he doesn't like (say Nashville, which I doubt has much of a Russian community) he just have to deal with it for a yr, collect his $6.7 million and then go to another NHL team or back to Russia to play in the KHL.

Posted by: chombie13 | January 30, 2011 12:56 AM | Report abuse

It doesn't feel like he is commited to the Caps, he seems to have one foot in Russia and one foot here. Maybe that is just the perception, but the fact that he hasn't even attempted to learn english says alot.

That said, if he does finally commit - he can be a force. Hopefully he grows a little bit and dedicates himself to consistency. A one year deal makes sense.

Posted by: gs12 | January 30, 2011 6:45 AM | Report abuse

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