Nearly a week into free agency most of the big names are gone and the recently bought out Alexander Semin is still waiting to find a new home. Semin is coming off of the worst season of his career but has potential to be a great signing on a short-term deal. Meanwhile, Cody Franson highlights the list of big name free agent blueliners still on the market.
With a shallow free-agent pool quickly becoming drained of talent, former Carolina Hurricanes winger Alexander Semin could see his stock improve among teams in need of scoring depth.
The 31-year-old Semin comes with baggage. He has a reputation for indifferent play, which led to his recent buyout by the Hurricanes. His woeful 19-point performance in 57 games last season was the worst of his NHL career, and certainly not worthy of a player who was earning a $7-million annual cap hit.
However, Semin has also tallied 513 points in 635 NHL games, reaching or exceeding 20 goals in seven of his 10 NHL seasons. NBC Sports’ Jason Brough suggests the now-former Hurricane has the potential to pay off on a cheap, short-term contract. A report out of Russia claims Semin isn’t interested in joining the KHL and hopes to land a one-year contract with an NHL team.
Brough speculates Semin might recover his offensive enthusiasm playing for a better team. Though the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Phil Kessel, Brough claims they’re still looking for a winger. He also suggests the Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils as options.
Semin could also attract interest from the Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche and Montreal Canadiens. All were in the bottom third in scoring last season. The Coyotes and Avalanche lack experienced depth on right wing, while the Habs could look at Semin as an affordable pickup.
Forget about Semin returning to the Washington Capitals, where he had his best years. Their additions of T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams rule out a reunion with the Capitals, who still have to re-sign restricted free agents Braden Holtby, Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
FRANSON STILL AWAITING DEAL
Defenseman Cody Franson is another UFA entering this week still seeking a new home. The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples cites reports linking Franson to the Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Dallas Stars and his former team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, prior to the start of free agency on July 1.
Since then, however, the Sharks added Paul Martin to their defense corps. After acquiring Kessel last week, the Penguins have limited cap space for further expensive additions. The Flames have seven NHL defensemen under one-way contracts for 2015-16. That leaves the Stars and Maple Leafs as possible options.
Staples notes a rumor claiming Franson was seeking over $6-million per season. The Stars will likely balk at that number. While the rebuilding Leafs can afford it, their days of signing free agents to big contracts seem to be in the past.
DEPTH PLAYERS COULD FACE PAY CUTS
Semin and Franson are among the few notable names remaining in the UFA market. While devoid of star talent, there are several depth players still available who could be affordable short-term acquisitions
NHL.com’s Jon Rosen lists the best of the remaining bunch. Among the forwards are centers Eric Fehr and Mike Santorelli. Wingers include Chris Stewart, Brad Boyes and Jiri Tlusty, while Johnny Oduya and Christian Ehrhoff are among the available defensemen.
With 21 NHL teams having cap hits in excess of $60 million, and most of the rest on self-imposed caps, the remaining UFAs could find themselves accepting deals worth far less and on shorter term than they hoped for.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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 The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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