The Montreal Canadiens have firmly established themselves as a dominant force in a loaded Eastern Conference.
Led by Carey Price and P.K. Subban, Montreal finished the regular season with 110 points. However, they failed to capitalize on their regular season triumphs during the NHL playoffs. And after losing to Tampa Bay in the conference semi-finals, Montreal is determined to make it back to the Stanley Cup.
In order to keep up with the likes of Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Washington, Montreal got themselves a potential game-changer. The team signed former 40-goal scorer, Alexander Semin, to a one-year $1.1 million deal. It’s a worthwhile gamble for the Habs, who hope that Semin can regain the elite scoring form he had from the 2008-10 seasons when he scored 163 points.
Semin isn’t young, but at 31, he is far from the end of his road. He spent the best years of his career with the Washington Capitals. Most recently, Semin played for the Carolina Hurricanes, but failed to live up to the five-year contract extension he signed with the team in 2013.
The 2014-15 campaign saw Semin record a career-low 19 points. Many questioned his motivation and heart during this past season. On certain nights the once dominant point producer was a healthy scratch, meaning he never even suited up for the game. When on the ice, Semin was juggled between the third and fourth lines, and failed make any sort of impact for a hapless Hurricanes team.
Semin didn’t seem to have that same fire and determination many saw during his tenure in Washington. It’s almost as if he threw in the towel and gave up. Carolina had grown sick and tired of Semin’s effort on the ice, and waived the once dominating forward during the off-season.
Team General Manager, Ron Francis, spoke about Semin’s departure from the team.
“He certainly had some injuries, but most season he did not have the compete level we expect,” Francis told The News & Observer. “We talk about holding our players accountable, and there were some things we felt he did not hold up to, so we made this decision”
The red flags surrounding Semin haven’t swayed Canadiens general manager, Marc Bergevin. He still believes the often troubled winger has a lot to offer his Stanley Cup contending team.
“Alex is a pure goal scorer with a good shot. We believe his addition to our group of forwards will strengthen our offensive production and our power play.”
The chance to play in Montreal gives Semin a fresh start. He gave a lackluster effort during his final year in Carolina. It garnered him an ugly reputation around the NHL. It’s likely that Montreal could be his last chance at being a consistent contributor for a North American team.
The chances of Semin recording another 70-point season are slim at best. But, the Habs aren’t expecting him to be an elite scorer. For Semin to re-establish himself all he needs to do is compete at a high level every night.
Montreal is already considered one of the NHL’s elite teams. The addition of Semin isn’t going to give them a superstar, but it certainly changes the game.