Semin rumors swirl while Capitals seek cap relief

The Washington Capitals have some tough decisions to make concerning their 23-man roster in the coming weeks as the team finds themselves roughly $900,000 over the salary cap after the recent signing of defenseman Karl Alzner, leading many to speculate that a big move could be on the horizon for a team looking to add depth and become cap compliant.

The trio of Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin eats up roughly one-third of the team’s salary cap – and rightly so as they also accounted for 35 percent of the team’s offense last season. With the former two locked up by long-term contracts, the most likely candidate to be moved appears to be Alexander Semin and his one-year, $6.7 million contract. As a top three scorer, moving Semin could not only give the Capitals the cap relief they need, but it could also help the team balance their scoring and make them a deeper team offensively.

The New York Islanders, Nashville Predators, Colorado Avalanche, Phoenix Coyotes and Winnipeg Jets are all currently under the salary cap floor. Semin’s contract could easily push several of these teams over the floor, but many of them may not be willing to trade the assets required to obtain Semin.

The Capitals need scoring depth, they need roster players capable of joining the team and paying immediate dividends – not prospects and draft picks. The Capitals would likely look to pick up a good second or third line center in a deal as well. Colorado has a lot of good, young talent and could benefit from Semin’s scoring touch, but the Capitals wouldn’t receive the necessary cap relief if they traded for Paul Stastny and the Avalanche would be very hard pressed to trade budding star Matt Duchene.

In fact, most of those teams have few assets up the middle making it difficult for them to trade away those assets. The more likely scenario would be for many of those teams to sign remaining free agents like Alex Kovalev to lucrative one-year contracts to meet the floor. That way they can retain their budding star players and still become cap compliant.  

The Detroit Red Wings are one team continually associated with Semin trade rumors. This could mostly be a product of the Wings’ available cap space, however. The Wings have just under $6.5 million available in cap room with only a backup goaltender left to sign. The Capitals would likely target Valtteri Filppula in the trade, along with picks or prospects, but the Wings would probably be more eager to move Jiri Hudler in a packaged deal in order to retain Filppula. Adding Semin to the Wings would give Detroit more of an offensive punch and Semin would fit in well on the top line with fellow Russian Pavel Datsyuk. The Red Wings tend to drag their feet in situations like this, however, so a deal is highly improbable.

The Capitals will likely explore all options that would allow them to retain Alexander Semin and still become cap compliant, most of which include trading lesser salaries and bringing up young players to fill bottom line holes. But if the team is serious about winning soon, they will also explore options that could send Semin elsewhere in exchange for offensive depth.


  1. No offensive depth? Whomever wrote this is talking out of their bunghole. Caps have plenty of depth at center with Laich, Hendricks, Johansson, Halpern and Perrault behind Nick. And Laich can play both wings as well…and so can Semin though he prefers Right. Try out Sasha at Left and try this on for some scare-the-sh*t-out-of the opposition lines:
    1) Ovie – Backstrom – Knuble
    2) Semin – Laich – Brouwer
    3) Chimera – Hendricks/Johansson – Ward
    4) King – Halpern/Perrault – Beagle

  2. That does sound like a scary lineup. I wonder how it would match up against Steve Stamkos, Vinny Lecavelier, Marty St. Louis, Ryan Malone, Simone Gagne, Teddy Purcell, etc?

    Oh yeah, they got swept.

    At best Knuble has 50 points in him, which isn’t bad for a 39 year old, but I’d give it 10 games before Semin got put on the top line with Backstrom and Ovechkin. Sure, Laich can play center, but he’s better as a wing. I don’t know of one team that wanted him before he re-upped with Washington as a second line center instead of a top-six winger. I may be talking out of my bunghole, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Capitals need a true center for the second line, none of this Laich-can-play-any-position-if-he-puts-his-mind-to-it.

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