Agent: Caps' Alexander Semin not ready to be role player, headed to free agency

Semin saw his numbers and minutes go down this season. (Getty Images)

First it was Dale Hunter leaving, then the agent for Alexander Semin came out saying his client is headed to free agency. And this is only Day 2 of the offseason for the Capitals.

Semin, who is an unrestricted free agent when the period opens up on July 1, has spent his entire NHL career with the Capitals. He was enjoying the fruits of the Caps' up-tempo style, scoring 40 goals in 2009-10. But his numbers, and role, dipped to career lows this season in Washington as he scored just 21 goals in 77 games.

All of that came while he was making $6.7 million in his one-year contract. That's a hefty price tag for little production -- and few minutes -- so the writing was kind of on the wall already, especially since the Caps let it get this far without a contract.

Now his agent Mark Gandler is paving his way out of Washington, telling Craig Custance of ESPN the Magazine the thinking.

"It was good while it lasted. With the lack of playoff success, with the direction they are going. They decided to change directions. That's within their rights. Alex doesn't fit into that system obviously. It just doesn't make any sense to him. He plays, he did the best he could under the circumstances and he earned his right to be a free agent.

"I think the issue is with the organization, not necessarily with the coach," Gandler said. "They told us Alex is not going to play short-handed, he's not going to play in the last minute. He's going to get the same icetime as everybody else ... Alex is not ready to be a role player. He wants to be a full-time player. It's important to him."

Gandler also noted to Custance that Semin has a strong desire to say in the NHL instead of going to the KHL. But I will believe that when I see it.

I say that not as matter of Semin not wanting to play in the NHL, but more based on the fact that some team in Russia is going to make a big push for his services and will probably pay what he was making this season for Washington, or more.

Even Gandler concedes there is some uncertainty of what Semin would potentially fetch.

"I don't know what the market [for him] is going to be," Gandler said. "I know there aren't many players like Alex around."

That's what it will come back to. You hear often that there aren't many players with the talent that Semin has. He has one of the absolute best shots in the game. But he's also not a terribly strong defensive player who commits a lot of stick penalties and, as you also know, has had his heart questioned many times.

The point is he will be a big risk for some teams to mull over, depending on the cost of a new contract for him. He's going to want a big role and we know that he does have the ability to play on a top line somewhere from a scoring standpoint. I'm just wondering if that's going to be in the NHL or the KHL.

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