It looks like the L.A. Kings are as unstoppable as the unending stream of mailbag questions you nice people keep sending me. I remain thankful for the time you take to submit them. I also remain on THN Radio and in the pages of our esteemed magazine and I answer your questions there, too. Now, on to this week’s batch:
Hi Adam. Wouldn’t Alexander Semin be the perfect fit for the Islanders? They’ve got tons of cap space and lack another top-six forward to make their offense dangerous every night. They could throw $30-40 million spread over five or six years at him this summer and finally take the next step towards the playoffs.
They’d still need a couple of capable blueliners, but they’ve got to start somewhere, don’t they? With a player’s coach in Jack Capuano, Semin could easily play 20 minutes a night alongside John Tavares and Matt Moulson and rediscover his scoring touch. This line would be scary-good with three potential 40-goal scorers.
Thomas Vidal-Lessard, Cookshire-Eaton, Que.
If the Islanders didn’t have a history that includes (still) paying Alexei Yashin not to play for them and paying Rick DiPietro long-term while his body betrays him, I might be inclined to agree with you. I also might not, as I’m far from the biggest Semin fan and think it’s more likely a Kontinental League team backs up a money truck and brings him back to his homeland in time for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
But even if Semin doesn’t go to the KHL, is he really the player you think can take this team from pretender to contender? If your answer is yes, you disagree with most hockey people I speak to. This is a player who disappears for extended stretches despite a $6.7-million salary that should shame him into competing each and every night. Is he the example you wish to set for Tavares & Co.?
I think the Isles are better served continuing on their current course, building up as many solid young players as possible. The reality is their dilapidated arena and recent legacy of losing is going to make it highly difficult for them to win any free agent sweepstakes unless they overpay in a big way. I submit that Semin is the last guy they should be taking that chance on.
Adam, now that the Caps are out of the playoffs, what do you think are their major off-season needs? They should have some money now that Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth will be bargains and I assume if Semin returns it will be at a drastic price cut (so he’ll probably end up in the KHL). Furthermore, since Evgeny Kuznetsov is staying in Russia, they have some roster space. Also, do you think Ron Wilson would be a good fit as head coach? He coached the Caps to their 1998 run to the final.
Ben Gorbaty, Baltimore, Md.
I think their biggest off-season need is to find out exactly what this team is. Are they the defense-minded team that knocked off the defending Cup champs in Boston before falling short against the Rangers or are they the high-octane group that charmed so many people in the years prior?
If it’s the former, they need to replace Semin with a high-quality two-way forward. If it’s the latter, they have to look at hauling assets to another team in a trade for a skilled, swift forward, as it isn’t likely they’ll find one on the unrestricted free agent market.
As for the person who replaces Dale Hunter, I also think that’s dependent on the direction of the franchise. It’s difficult to imagine they’ll look for a tougher disciplinarian than Hunter was, but it may also be a mistake to turn to more of a player’s coach, as it could return the Caps to the type of expectant behavior in the dressing room that many believe has held them back from reaching the pinnacle of the hockey world.
In any case, I doubt Wilson will be the guy. He’s under contract to the Leafs throughout the season and I suspect he isn’t ready to throw himself into another coaching situation, particularly one that has the potential for disaster.
Hey Adam, I am a huge Red Wings fan and I am hoping Nick Lidstrom will be back next year! I want him to win another Stanley Cup along with another Norris Trophy to tie the great Bobby Orr! I was wondering, do you think Lidstrom should and will come back for one more year? Thanks.
Rebecca Tucker, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
We’re talking strict hunch territory here, but, yes, I suspect Lidstrom will return for another season. Some have said he’s a package deal with fellow teammate and unrestricted free agent Tomas Holmstrom, but he’s definitely got enough left in the tank to be a major contributor regardless of any outside influences.