Washington Capitals GM George McPhee recently defended much-maligned left winger Alexander Semin, who was the topic of trade speculation throughout the summer.
McPhee disputed the criticism of Semin's post-season record, which is often used by the Russian's critics when calling for him to be dealt. McPhee said the winger's stats through his first 37 NHL playoff games (30 points) were better than Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk over the same period (12) in his career.
He also said Semin had a better point-per-game playoff average than Anaheim's Corey Perry (the 2011 Hart Trophy winner), Vancouver's Sedin Twins (Art Ross Trophy winners) and Boston's Patrice Bergeron.
McPhee's public support of Semin is admirable, though comparing his performance to Datsyuk's over the same period doesn't hold up under scrutiny, as the Red Wing mainly saw third-line duty in his early years, while Semin plays on one of the Capitals top lines.
The knock on Semin is a perceived inconsistency in his post-season play – being effective in one series, then struggling in the next.
In last spring's post-season, for example, he had four points in five games as the Capitals eliminated the New York Rangers in the first round, but notched only two points when his team was swept from the second round by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Until he silences those critics with more consistency, Semin's post-season play will continue to be used as ammunition by those calling for the Capitals to trade him.
For his part, Semin professed in a recent interview he wasn’t concerned by the criticism, especially from former teammates Matt Bradley and David Steckel, who accused him of playing without passion.
Semin told the Washington Post he'd like to remain with the Capitals for another 10 years and considered Washington his second home.
It remains to be seen if Semin gets his wish, but for now it’s apparent McPhee has no intention of moving him.
SCHNEIDER STUCK SECOND ON THE DEPTH CHART
The Vancouver Sun's Cam Cole recently devoted a column to Canucks backup goalie Cory Schneider, pointing out the 25-year-old netminder won't get an opportunity to become a full-fledged starting goalie in Vancouver with Roberto Luongo's “all-but-lifetime” contract.
Cole suggested there were teams who could've used Schneider at last season's trade deadline, or at the June draft, and there are still some who could use a goalie with his potential.
Cole noted the Edmonton Oilers were one of those clubs “bursting with raw talent,” but uncertain over its goaltending, led by veteran Nikolai Khabibulin. Cole believes the Oilers have the commodities to acquire a goalie such as Schneider who would address their future between the pipes.
But it’s not clear if the Canucks are interested in moving Schneider this season, let alone to a divisional rival.
GM Mike Gillis resisted the temptation to move him in the off-season and bolster the depth on his scoring lines. The plan this season is for Schneider to play around 25 games to ensure Luongo remains fresh for the 2012 playoffs.
Of course, the situation could change as the season progresses. Injuries to key forwards would put more pressure on Gillis to swing a deal, perhaps around the February trade deadline when Schneider's value would increase.
Schneider’s long-term future obviously isn't in Vancouver, but where he ends up, and when, may not be addressed this season.
STAAL’S SYMPTOMS HAVE RANGERS LOOKING FOR INSURANCE
Marc Staal's lingering post-concussion symptoms are keeping him out of the Rangers lineup and raising the possibility the team will seek a short-term replacement if he's unavailable to start the season.
The New York Post and ESPN.com reported the Rangers had interest in Paul Mara, who played for the Blueshirts between 2007 and 2009. The Post observed Rangers coach John Tortorella oversaw Mara's departure from the club, but suggested the veteran defenseman is the best available option for their needs right now.
However, the Rangers would likely face some competition for Mara's services. ESPN.com also noted the Islanders were interested in the defender and his agent claimed to be in talks with other NHL teams, seeking a contract, not a tryout, for his client.
Veteran Wade Redden was not part of the Rangers training camp roster and is not expected to be called up to replace Staal. Redden’s $6.5 million cap hit for this season far exceeds the Rangers available cap space of $1.364 million. Not even placing Staal ($3.975 million) on the long-term injured list would free up enough cap space to take on Redden.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla's Korner.