Should the Flames claim Alexander Semin off of waivers?

There are a few benefits to being at the bottom of the NHL standings, which is exactly where the Flames have found themselves at this point of the season. The draft lottery, for one thing; being first in line for waiver claims is another.

And if you knew there was a top-six talent available on waivers – one with a really cheap cap hit – would you put a claim on him?

What if he was Alexander Semin?

A few years removed

Semin’s career high of 40 goals and 84 points came six seasons ago. He’s two seasons removed from 20+ goals and 40+ points. But those past two seasons, including this one, have not been banner years for the 31-year-old.

After a 21-goal, 54-point season back in 2011-12, the Washington Capitals decided to let Semin go. The Carolina Hurricanes picked him up in free agency, and he had back-to-back 40 point seasons for them, including being a point-per-game player in the lockout year.

But in 2014-15, Semin only scored six goals and 19 points through 57 games: not enough, and certainly not acceptable for a player with a $7 million cap hit. So the Hurricanes bought him out, and the Montreal Canadiens signed him on July 24 to a one-year, $1.1 million deal.

But now, it appears as though his days in Montreal are over. Semin scored just one goal and four points over 15 games for the Canadiens, and now, he’s on waivers.

He doesn’t appear to be the point-per-game player he was just a few years ago.

Still a possession driver

Via War on Ice, here’s a visualization of how Semin has been used in Montreal this season:

semin usage woi

He’s been placed in sheltered situations akin to those of Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk. However, Eller, 26, is 7-4-11 through 28 games this season; Galchenyuk, 21, is 7-13-20 through the same number of games. So even though he’s played in similar circumstances, Semin, who is much older, isn’t producing as much as other Canadiens. He’s barely producing at all.

Here’s the silver lining for him: he’s a positive corsi player. Of course, that’s to be expected considering the circumstances in which he’s played, but his underlying numbers aren’t much different from Eller and Galchenyuk’s. On the Habs, his CF of 55.48% is fourth out of all forwards with at least 10 games played; his CF60 third at 64.28. At absolute worst, he can still point the puck in the right direction.

semin gbg woi

It’s been that way for almost his entire career, and it hasn’t changed: even through his decline, he still remains well north of 50%.

Low risk, high reward

Here’s the thing with Semin: at minimum, he’s a competent hockey player on a cheap, one-year deal. There’s almost no downside to claiming him. He fits under the Flames’ cap and bolsters a lineup lacking in talented wingers.

At maximum, he rediscovers his scoring touch. While the Flames continue to experiment with their roster, only one player, Johnny Gaudreau, has scored more than 20 points so far this season, and only Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler have topped 15. Semin is a source of potential help to get things going, and he comes at a ridiculously cheap price – all the while still helping create chances.

And if things don’t work out, hey, there’s the waiver wire.

There is, of course, one risk to claiming Semin: somebody else would have to go. The Flames are at 23 roster players with 14 forwards, seven defencemen, and two goalies. Only Markus Granlund can be sent down without having to clear waivers, and he doesn’t deserve that.

Brandon Bollig, Josh Jooris, and Mason Raymond are the most frequent scratches in the Flames’ forward group, so if somebody has to go, you’d think it has to be one of them. Jooris is young and has more upside, so it wouldn’t be him. Raymond has shown flashes of good play and is stuck with a heavy cap hit, so waiving him may not be ideal. Bollig has a slightly higher cap hit than Semin and has a completely different skill set, but he also hasn’t gotten into a game since Nov. 24.

Semin would, in all likelihood, provide an immediate upgrade to the Flames’ lineup for cheap. Best case scenario, he turns into a 40+ point scorer again. Worst case? He goes back on waivers, and the Flames bring back the player they had to demote to acquire him.

For a team at the bottom of the standings, Alexander Semin is certainly worth considering.

    • Burnward

      I suppose he is, my bad. But since I’d like to see Granlund and Shore converted to RW, it’s the same issue.

      And even if there was a gaping hole, still no. This team does not need more 30+ year olds.

  • al rain

    Bollig “…has a completely different skill set.”

    As in, Bollig doesn’t play the bongos?

    Maybe we should pick him up. If Bollig spends that much time in the press box then at least Semin will have the team’s back.

  • Acquiring Semin and putting him in a position to put up some numbers before trading him at the deadline could be pretty lucrative. I wouldn’t be upset if he took a roster spot from Bollig or Raymond until March.

    • supra steve

      Asset management like that led to the three headed monster. By resigning Ramo (which I agreed with at the time) and then not being able to trade Hiller, the Flames hosed themselves.

      I think you harvest only what you need from the waiver wire and don’t get greedy.

  • Burnward

    To me it’s Semin or Raymond.

    Throw Semin on fourth line, maybe he finds a little magic on the PP as a trigger man.

    Waive Raymond, go from there.

    If not…no huge loss though.

  • supra steve

    Nope. He’s been cast out of 3 clubs already, Flames don’t need to be his fourth.

    Plus, he takes up a roster spot. When Kevin Poulin was added that was a big concern from a lot of FN posts, and Semin would add another body to that list. WE already KNOW how this would end, I’m hopeful that BT knows too.

  • supra steve

    Research research research. Detailed interview see where he is really at. Fully vet the like a prospective prospective tenant. Then flip a coin.
    Then trade him for Byron. Haha

  • RedMan

    problems with bringing in semen:

    1) this is a rebuilding team – why are you bringing in someone that, if successful, gets the flames a worse pick in the draft? are you seriously thinking it’s so important to push for a very improbable playoff spot that you are willing to get a lower chance prospect out of the draft? bad idea. stick to the rebuild – we need much better depth and some genuine blue chip talent added over the next couple years.

    2) ya, we need a well documented “coaster” to help our team because, attitude and effort is nothing. just ask Edmonton how easy it is to change a losing culture. easy-peasy.

    3) oh great, a “possession star” that “drives play”, except he doesn’t. wow, nice new-stat darling, but is so useful that team after team that has already tried a full on reclamation have already thrown in the towel. But as the next team in line to apply for player reclamation, i am sure it will work, cause we know how good Hartley is with this kind of thing – his wonderful patience and willingness to not throw a guy into the press box for coasting and staying on the perimeter.

    the only argument i can see as holding any water at all is the notion that if we want to trade off Hudler, semen can replace him. but then, are we saying there is nobody in our system that is ready to take a step? if this is really so, we are farther back in the rebuild than we thought, and therefore definitely should not be getting (toxic in the lazy locker room) players just because they tickle the button of the new-stats fad. the guy is obviously a cancer in the room or something else – on top of being a perimeter player that doesn’t care…

  • Christian Roatis

    Why would anyone want this guy? In 2009 when he scored 40 goals maybe…that was 6-7 years ago and its been all down hill since then to the point not a single NHL team wanted him for FREE, even with a low cap hit one year risk.

    This guy has been irrelevant for years, can’t hold a job, lazy, doesn’t get it or have the mental propensity to play nor has he for 5-6 years now…exactly the type of player we don’t need in our locker room.

    Shameful that some folks on here even took a second to consider he could bring anything of value to this team in 2015/2016, its almost like some folks want to live in the past and the player he once was rather than the reality of who he is now and has been for some time. Thankfully our hockey ops folks are intelligent and have the bigger picture in mind, as do the 29 other hockey ops groups.

    Stick a fork in this guy…