It was only fitting that the top two American Free Agents in the class of 2012 would sign long-term deals to an American city on Independence Day. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed thirteen year contracts with the Minnesota Wild early Wednesday morning, both deals structured the same in paying out $98 million to each. The Wild are suddenly among the contenders now, a dark horse pick in July that may generate momentum heading into the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
What Wednesday’s signing did for sniper Alexander Semin, however, was just as important.
Jeez I’ll miss that.
Parise was the top offensive talent in the Free Agent class, his signing narrowing the available talent in the pool by a good margin. Left in Parise’s Free Agency wake is the former Capitals star Semin along with aging veteran Jaromir Jagr and Phoenix Coyotes Captain Shane Doan. Despite the murmurs of Semin’s shortcoming he leads the rest of his class in terms of skill and a ceiling of production.
Jagr has been courted by several teams interested in taking a flyer on the older All-Star after showing signs of life last year by scoring fifty-four points (19G 35A) in his return to North American ice. Doan would also be a target of offers if he decides to leave Arizona because of the ownership snafu that has haunted the Coyotes franchise for years. But, because of the former’s age and the latter’s current indecision on his future, Semin becomes the prime target for teams looking to add goals.
Semin should attract interest from teams ranging from the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Ottawa Senators, but there’ll only be one place in the NHL that would reap the rewards of his sublime skill; Detroit.
The Red Wings made offers to both Parise and Suter, looking to add youth to their contender and some goals along with it. When Detroit realized they were out of the running for both, their attention will naturally flirt with the next best option available, Sasha (Minor).
Only in Detroit would Semin find a wing slot available to play alongside his favorite teammates, a superbly skilled Russian forward in the Red Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk. Without another skilled Russian player by his side Semin may feel too individual and could become the center of harsh, solitary criticisms. By playing side by side with Alexander Ovechkin for the past six years Semin has always rode side car to Ovechkin’s Harley, able to hide in the shadows when the going got tough. With a player like Datsyuk Detroit can offer that to the twenty-eight year old Free Agent and feel reasonably comfortable that the winger would transplant his A game to Michigan. I do not believe Semin has a marketable fit anywhere else in the NHL, giving plenty of support to the theory of Sasha returning home to Russia and the Kontinental Hockey League.
But if that happened, we’d miss out on this.