Per ESPN, Alexander Semin will not pursue a contract extension with the Caps, and instead will test the waters of free agency.
According to his agent Mark Gandler:
I think the issue is with the organization, not necessarily with the coach. They told us Alex is not going to play short-handed, he’s not going to play in the last minute. He’s going to get the same icetime as everybody else … Alex is not ready to be a role player. He wants to be a full-time player. It’s important to him.
Semin has always been one of the players most heavily tarred with the xenophobic “enigmatic Russian” brush. He has been variously accused of being lazy, of not trying, of not caring, and of not being a team player. And yet he is one of the most purely talented hockey players in the entire NHL. He has an absolutely killer wrist shot and he goes through periods of offensive dominance mingled with periods where he lies fallow.
I really like Gandler’s description of him as a “role player,” because it fits so perfectly and yet doesn’t really make sense. A role player is usually a face-off specialist, or a third-liner who lodges mega-PK minutes. But Semin really is a role player: it just so happens his role is gorgeous shots of first line quality. He isn’t a practical role player, because it’s not something he can just do the way one can take a face-off or block shots, but it’s the only area in which he is truly reliable (that and offensive zone stick penalties).
He’d be a great addition to a team that wants devastating secondary scoring, but devastating in morale rather than quantity. A perfect Semin shot is devastating to a goalie because there’s nothing you can do about it: it’s simply beautiful. He can also be devastating to his own team, in the offensive-murdering penalties (that make coaches make this face) and the frustrating times when he can’t seem to score.
That said, I look forward to the Blue Jackets picking him up in desperation!
Edit: Upon landing in Stockholm, Semin said, through translator Pavel Lysenkov (of Sovetski Sport), “There was no talk at all that I am not going to sign with the Capitals for sure. I have not talked to them [the Capitals] about leaving.”
Dammit, Semin. I’ve got too many emotions as it is already.