Inking the talented yet inconsistent left winger to a one-year pact was a low-risk move for the Canadiens, but the franchise won’t improve unless the pivot situation is cleared up.
The Montreal Canadiens have signed left winger Alexander Semin to a one-year contract for the very reasonable sum of $1.1 million. But that won’t cover up the most obvious hole in the franchise’s Stanley Cup plans.
Semin, the former Carolina Hurricane who was bought out by the cash-conscious team after a disastrous six-goal season, still has the tools to be a successful offensive player. His shot is right up there with Phil Kessel’s as one of the most dangerous in the NHL and the Russian is very creative, too.
For a Habs team that ranked 20th in goals per game this past season (no other playoff team was worse), adding a player such as Semin for a low commitment is all well and good, but it doesn’t solve Montreal’s biggest problem: the center position.
After all, Max Pacioretty knows how to put the puck in the net from the wing as well; same goes for Brendan Gallagher. Down the middle, the Habs suffered all year in the possession game and with the exception of Tomas Plekanec, no center on the team had anything close to a great offensive campaign.
One obvious solution is to give young talent Alex Galchenyuk a legitimate shot. Drafted as a center but mainly deployed by Montreal as a winger, Galchenyuk has all the makings of a game-changer, yet GM Marc Bergevin never fails to make his negative opinion on the matter crystal clear. Given that Galchenuk is a restricted free agent right now, could it be a bargaining ploy, or just a way to keep the young man in line?
Bergevin made a similar gambit on P.K. Subban’s bridge deal and got burned when, shocker of all shockers, Subban became the Norris Trophy winner we all knew he was poised to become.
With Subban on the back end and Carey Price in net, the Habs are still a very good team, but in its current state, there’s no way this squad goes any further in the playoffs than they did in 2015. With all due respect to Alex Semin, of course.