Over the last several weeks, we've all gone crazy trying to figure out what and who, the Rangers need to add in order to improve this team for another serious cup run in 2013 and beyond. We've all read the rumors and have debated to the point of nausea, whether each rumored player acquisition is a fit for the team we love most. No doubt that will continue for the next several weeks. Even if a move is made by the Rangers before then, we will all argue/debate our feelings for or against the move. Personally, I enjoy a good, educated debate. So continue reading and let the debating begin....again.
That's why I'm suggesting that the best move the Rangers can make at this point, isto add Alexander Semin and forget dealing with Columbus and/or Anaheim. Any such deal to acquire Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan is obviously an addition by subtraction situation and when it comes to the Rangers, I'm not so sure anymore, that it's a road they "need" to travel. Especially now that the urgency for teams to try and acquire either player will surely be dialed up with the Wild's signings of Suter and more importantly, Parise. An urgency that will surely allow and entitle Columbus GM Scott Howson, to ask for a kings ransom in exchange for his star winger, as he has all along. While I've stated on some threads that I love the idea of bringing Nash or Ryan to NY even if it meant giving up Stepan, I've somewhat soured on that premise in the last day or so. I will say, as I have in other posts, that I do not think Stepan should be a deal breaker when it comes to either star player becoming a Ranger, but having said that, I also don't think it's a must to get either Nash or Ryan, when a player like Semin can be acquired without giving up assets and undertaking a very large contract.
I will first say that I fully understand the "baggage" Alexander Semin comes with and the risks involved in signing him. He's been labeled, lazy and one dimensional for quite some time now. Recent critics, Pierre McGuire and Marc Crawford went so far as to call the Russian winger "a complete loser" and "the ultimate coach killer". Criticism that I think is a little harsh and unfair. But is a deal for Nash any less risky when you consider the money he makes and the young talent that will be given up to get him? In my opinion, no. There is no question that Semin may need an attitude adjustment but I believe John Tortorella is a coach who can and would, get the talented winger in line. We actually saw a glimpse of a more responsible and dedicated Semin in the playoffs. First hand in the Capitals second round match-up with our beloved Rangers. He seemed to be paying more attention to defense and shot blocking thanks to the demands coach Dale Hunter put on his players. So to me, the potential is there for Semin to become at least a player willing to sacrifice himself for his team.
Then there is the question of talent. In the case of Semin, there is little question of whether he possesses that. In 3 of his last 6 seasons, he's registered at least 70 points. Two of those seasons were ones in which he missed 20 and 9 games in 08-09 and 09-10. He netted 34 and 40 gaols in each of those seasons as well. Numbers that are right on par with current Ranger winger, Marian Gaborik. Even in what were clear "down" seasons for him in 2010-11 and 2011-12, he managed 54 points and in 2010-11, he only played in 64 games which is noteworthy if you ask me. Semin is, if nothing else, a pure goal scorer who can create his own shooting lanes cand reate space for his teammates. The Rangers don't really have a player who can create his own offense, including Gaborik, who tends do most of his damage with exceptional positioning skills and a gnarlyshot. Isn't Semin's skill set exactly what everyone has been saying this team lacks?
Semin made 6.7 million dollars last year. A number that I would expect to actually decrease with a new contract, considering his questionable character and decreased production over the last two seasons. Even if he makes about the same or slightly more money with a new contract, isn't his ability combined with the Rangers need for pure goal scorer worth whatever risk he comes with? Especially when you consider, they wouldn't have to give up ANY of the young talented assets we have all come to value so highly?
The biggest factor to me would be his attitude and his chemistry with what is a tight group of dedicated and hungry players. Keep in mind, that even with his questionable attitude and dedication, he has put up very strong numbers during his first 7 seasons in the NHL. Imagine what he can do if Tortorella and his surrounding NYR teammates get him to buy into their identity an style of play. Playing with such character players and demanding coaches would surely have a positive affect on a guy, no? Not to mention what he could do if he buys in, playing with the likes of Richards, Kreider, Callahan and a healthy Gaborik.
I've grown to trust the Ranger management. Especially their coaching staff and more importantly, the players in that locker room. I trust that any player they bring in will be for the right reasons and will be a good fit with the entire team. If that player isn't a good fit upon arrival, then rest assured, he will be, because this team won't tolerate anything less than 100%. Semin is no acception. We've maybe yet to see what Alexander Semin can do when he gives 100% and I for one, would love to see a dedicated and rejuvenated Semin playing for the New York Rangers. All while preserving the young assets they have grown and developed over the last several years.