Free Agents: Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals

Jonathan Willis
April 30 2012 08:18AM

Despite a sixth consecutive season with more than 20 goals, 2011-12 was not a good year for talented Washington Capitals’ winger Alexander Semin. His 21-goals was a post-lockout low, his 54 points fell below expectations, and he was dogged by frequent criticism that he wasn’t giving it his all when he played.

2011-12 Cap Hit: $6.7 million.

Position: Left wing.

How the coach used him: According to behindthenet.ca, Semin saw the eighth-toughest competition of the Capitals’ regular forwards. He started slightly more than half of his non-neutral zone shifts in the offensive zone and was middle of the pack among Capitals’ forwards in this regard. He played 14:15/game at even-strength, 2:31/game on the power play.

How he fared: With Semin on the ice, the Capitals outshot their opposition by a hefty margin, and his even-strength scoring numbers (2.30 PTS/60 in 5-on-5 situations) were pretty robust too. Washington’s power play was not good in 2011-12 and Semin’s 5-on-4 numbers reflect that; at 3.24 PTS/60 he’d be a sub-average power play option league-wide.

What McKeen’s says: “[T]ricky, hot-shooting winger packing a wristshot of remarkable velocity and accuracy .. mesmerizing 1-on-1 dangles, utilizing a long reach and ultra-soft hands .. slick, elusive … relies on the element of surprise – and impulsive bursts of quickness to open up lanes .. his unpredictable nature makes him an ever-present threat – and a liability who can’t resist attempting fancy plays in dangerous areas .. loses focus and interest defensively and takes undisciplined penalties .. a precocious talent with issues…”

My take: Semin’s bound to have lost luster after two consecutive 50-something point seasons, and he’s also the kind of guy that people look at and say, ‘sure, he’s talented, but can you win with him?’

Of course, people used to say that about Brett Hull, too. My view is that while Semin’s a flawed player in some ways – the undisciplined penalties are undeniable, and he’s not going to be a defensive-zone specialist any time soon – but that he’s also one who by-and-large drives the play in the right direction and in a specific role he can be a major attribute to almost any team. He’s earned a reputation for disappearing in the post-season – thanks in large part to a bad run in 2009-10 where he fired 44 shots but couldn’t score a goal – but he’s also had some effective runs in the playoffs and as a supporting player I’d feel comfortable using him.

While Semin has definite negatives, his talent level should put him near the top of a weak class for free agent wingers. He’s basically a guy who can score 30 goals and 65 points on a soft minutes line, and drive play the right direction, and there simply isn’t that sort of goal-scoring talent readily available.

If a team signs him with their eyes open – knowing that he’s a good player who can add offensive punch but not a guy to lean on in all situations – then he could be a good fit. Because of the last two seasons being weaker, he should be available for reasonable money.

Key statistic: Since the NHL lockout just 10 players in the league have scored more goals on a per-game basis than Alexander Semin. He scores more frequently than Rick Nash, Vincent Lecavalier, Eric Staal, Thomas Vanek, Bobby Ryan, Jeff Carter, Corey Perry and a host of other more highly-touted forwards. Whatever his weaknesses, he’s an elite goal-scoring option.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Pizzy
April 30 2012, 08:26AM
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If the Oilers take Yakupov Fist overal, then our top 6 is pretty much set. I dont seen any point in adding another (ie. Semin). Especially at that cap hit.

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#2 rds
April 30 2012, 08:32AM
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Sounds like he'd fit right in on the Oilers

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#3 Dino
April 30 2012, 08:46AM
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rds wrote:

Sounds like he'd fit right in on the Oilers

I was thinking he'd be great for the Flamers. They'll have a ton of cap space to sign UFA's. I'm sure Flames fans are all a tither at the thought of Semin and Jokinen (assuming the Flames resign him) playing together and leading them to the promised land!

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#4 Rama Lama
April 30 2012, 08:50AM
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We don't need anymore wingers.........what about Parise who is a UFA and plays center.

Although I too am impressed by his wrist shot, I'm more concerned about team chemistry.........adding a player like this ( who thinks so highly of himself) will only lead to more troubles in the dressing room.

Might I suggest, that we have a less talented version of Semin named Hemsky! If I have to watch two players continously dangle and accomplish nothing, I going to start cheering for Calgary........did I just say that. Ouch.

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#5 Cory Dakin
April 30 2012, 08:55AM
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Due to the Oilers overwhelming depth at LW it would be absolutely foolish to take take a shot at Semin for a 2 or 3 year deal if the dollars were right. The last thing they need is a potential 30 goal player screwing up the 10 year rebuild.

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#6 Cory Dakin
April 30 2012, 08:56AM
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Disclaimer:

I left out the "~" marks on purpose. Please detect appropriate levels of sarcasm at your discretion.

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#7 TigerUnderGlass
April 30 2012, 08:59AM
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@Rama Lama

what about Parise who is a UFA and plays center.

Parise plays center now?

Might I suggest, that we have a less talented version of Semin named Hemsky! If I have to watch two players continously dangle and accomplish nothing, I going to start cheering for Calgary

Funny, both of these guys have accomplished quite a bit over their careers.

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#8 TigerUnderGlass
April 30 2012, 09:01AM
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Cory Dakin wrote:

Disclaimer:

I left out the "~" marks on purpose. Please detect appropriate levels of sarcasm at your discretion.

I was going to props your original comment but you sort of ruined it by explaining yourself. How are people supposed to misunderstand and call you an idiot now?

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#9 Evan
April 30 2012, 09:08AM
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I could see him in a Canucks jersey next year.

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#10 Cory Dakin
April 30 2012, 09:20AM
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@TigerUnderGlass

I was going to leave it as is. But then I remembered that the ability of a few people to see the sarcasm there would make me sad. And I don't want to be sad.

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#11 Cory Dakin
April 30 2012, 09:21AM
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Evan wrote:

I could see him in a Canucks jersey next year.

European player with no heart and an inability to show up when it matters most? I thought he was playing for Vancouver.

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#12 BlacqueJacque
April 30 2012, 09:24AM
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Jonathan,

"My view is that while Semin’s a flawed player in some ways – the undisciplined penalties are undeniable, and he’s not going to be a defensive-zone specialist any time soon – but that he’s also one who by-and-large drives the play in the right direction and in a specific role he can be a major attribute to almost any team."

I think some advanced stats would help backup or disprove that view. Zone starts/finishes, CorsiRel, QoC, QoT (and comparisons to some other wingers on his team).

Plus, as a reader, it would save me time from researching that myself.

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#13 Cory Dakin
April 30 2012, 09:32AM
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BlacqueJacque wrote:

Jonathan,

"My view is that while Semin’s a flawed player in some ways – the undisciplined penalties are undeniable, and he’s not going to be a defensive-zone specialist any time soon – but that he’s also one who by-and-large drives the play in the right direction and in a specific role he can be a major attribute to almost any team."

I think some advanced stats would help backup or disprove that view. Zone starts/finishes, CorsiRel, QoC, QoT (and comparisons to some other wingers on his team).

Plus, as a reader, it would save me time from researching that myself.

If you click on the link at the beginning of the "How the Coach used him" paragraph it has all the advanced stats relative to his team mates.

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#15 BlacqueJacque
April 30 2012, 09:36AM
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For anyone who's interested, here's a link comparing advanced stats for Washington forwards in the 2011-2012 season.

http://www.behindthenet.ca/nhl_statistics.php?ds=25&s=3&f1=2011_s&f2=5v5&f4=C+LW+RW&f5=WSH&f7=30-&c=0+1+3+5+4+6+7+8+13+14+29+30+32+33+34+45+46+63+67+21+22+23+24+25+26+27+28

Very interesting. To borrow a phrase from LT, he may be the straw the stirs the drink in Washington. High CorsiRel, second highest on the team after Perreault in fact, among players with at least 30GP. After Semin, the CorsiRel on the caps actually falls off a cliff.

As you say he does take a lot of penalties and doesn't draw many back.

Basically even ZS, best Goals For/60 while on the ice for the Caps, middle of the pack GA/60. Third-best +/- per 60.

I'd almost say he's underrated. Not for the money, mind you, but not the defensive disaster I thought he was.

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#16 Quicksilver ballet
April 30 2012, 09:36AM
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Oilers would need to do their homework on Alexander. I think you might see some good riddance quotes coming from one or two of the Capital veterans after he leaves. Edmonton does still have a hole on the left side as well as at center. (along with the hole in the one and two spots on the blueline....and possibly a goalie as well)

I would take a flyer on Semin. On July 1st send in a 3 yr 15 million dollar offer and see what happens, but only if the Oiler pro scouts think he'd be a possible fit here.

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#17 BlacqueJacque
April 30 2012, 09:37AM
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d'oh, thank you! I missed that somehow.

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#18 a lg dubl dubl
April 30 2012, 09:55AM
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Imo if ST signs Semin, they've pretty much washed thier hands of PRV on the 2nd\3rd line.

But if the Oilers did sign Semin i wonder if his # would be 69?

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#19 Fresh Mess
April 30 2012, 10:06AM
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" he’s also the kind of guy that people look at and say, ‘sure, he’s talented, but can you win with him?’ " - Willis

And you can say that for nearly all the top russian scorers in the NHL, which is another reason why I am not interested in Nail.

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#20 TwoSkidoos
April 30 2012, 10:06AM
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Pro scouts in Edmonton? We have those? The same scouts who picked up Ben Eager?...

Semin may be good for Yak, but beyond that, I would be wary of him in the locker room.

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#21 BlacqueJacque
April 30 2012, 10:14AM
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@Fresh Mess

Oh good grief, not this again.

The Detroit Red Wings alone stand as testament that not only do Russian players contribute to a Stanley Cup win, they can lead you to one.

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#22 speeds
April 30 2012, 10:20AM
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One weird thing about Semin, given his reputation, is the stats say he's been really good on the PK the past few seasons (this year excepted, although he only played about 1 min on the PK). I'm not sure why they removed him from the PK this season, perhaps they wanted to focus his minutes elsewhere, perhaps they feel he's not as effective or focused on the PK as he once was?

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#23 DSF
April 30 2012, 10:21AM
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In other news...Linus Omark has been cut from the Swedish WHC team.

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#24 Team EHH
April 30 2012, 11:05AM
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Semin has been in the dog house from time to time all season. Yesterday he skated with the 4th line after taking two penalties, including an undisciplined retaliatory slash, in game one.

If they don't believe PRV can cut it on the top two lines, my preference would be to go after a winger who plays with size and grit, not another finesse player.

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#25 Team EHH
April 30 2012, 11:08AM
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should read: my preference would be to go after a winger with size who plays with grit, not another finesse player.

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#26 Rama Lama
April 30 2012, 11:12AM
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Team EHH wrote:

Semin has been in the dog house from time to time all season. Yesterday he skated with the 4th line after taking two penalties, including an undisciplined retaliatory slash, in game one.

If they don't believe PRV can cut it on the top two lines, my preference would be to go after a winger who plays with size and grit, not another finesse player.

Finally some.......common sense.

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#27 TwoSkidoos
April 30 2012, 11:27AM
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Problem is - there aren't many decent players with size that can a.) think the game and b.) contribute on a regular basis on the top 2 lines aside from players like Lucic (who has his flaws), Thornton, etc.

Although I would love to see a player with size that can contribute on the Oil, it's easier said than done.

Hartikainen fits the mould, but, consistent contribution is likely an issue. It's slim pickin's in the remainder of the Oilers system with regards to those types of players.

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#28 everton fc
April 30 2012, 11:37AM
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I just had a dream...

Moving two of the following salaries:

Iginla Kiprusoff Bouwmeester Cammy

And adding:

Stastny Parise

One can dream....

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#29 Team EHH
April 30 2012, 12:17PM
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I have to agree with you.

Do you think Pittlick can play the left side? He has been playing on the wing at OKC, but probably on the right side. Pittlick would provide three options with PRV & Harti.

Is Kyle Beach worth pursuing in a trade?

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#30 Wäx Män Riley
April 30 2012, 12:20PM
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DSF wrote:

In other news...Linus Omark has been cut from the Swedish WHC team.

The Swedish team is ruining his confidence and his development! Fire the coach! Fire the GM!

Trade Omark for Subban!

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#31 RKD
April 30 2012, 12:59PM
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I don't like the fact that Semin has had declining production like Ovechkin. Back to back 54 point seasons aren't wowing anyone.

Sure he could help the Flames offensively, after July 1st he's younger than Iggy by 7 years. He would be an upgrade to Stempniak or Moss at the RW position.

However, if he doesn't produce like he did in the past then we can look forward to another overpaid underachiever and people moaning about his $6.7 million dollar salary.

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#32 Oiler AL
April 30 2012, 01:05PM
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Can`t say for sure , but I think Semin needs to play for a team, where he is the `main man`,not playing in the shadow of OV. He would have the same problem with Edmonton... behind the kids so to speak. He needs to go to Columbus, or Montreal, or maybe even Predators, and play with Radulov, if he`s still there.Oilers need a Stud center man... maybe Hall will be that guy.

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#33 OilLeak
April 30 2012, 01:08PM
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RKD wrote:

I don't like the fact that Semin has had declining production like Ovechkin. Back to back 54 point seasons aren't wowing anyone.

Sure he could help the Flames offensively, after July 1st he's younger than Iggy by 7 years. He would be an upgrade to Stempniak or Moss at the RW position.

However, if he doesn't produce like he did in the past then we can look forward to another overpaid underachiever and people moaning about his $6.7 million dollar salary.

Capitals have changed their system to more of a defensive approach. Look at the players that have been added to the Kings this year, a large majority of them had a drop-off in production due to the defensive system implemented by the coaches.

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#34 master of my domain
April 30 2012, 01:39PM
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I don't want Semin on my Oilers jersey

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#35 Maestro Fresh Mess
April 30 2012, 03:58PM
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Can Omark still report to OKC now that Team Sweden has said thanks for coming out?

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#36 Wanyes bastard child
April 30 2012, 04:40PM
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TwoSkidoos wrote:

Pro scouts in Edmonton? We have those? The same scouts who picked up Ben Eager?...

Semin may be good for Yak, but beyond that, I would be wary of him in the locker room.

Theres a dirty joke in here somewhere...

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#37 Graham
April 30 2012, 04:45PM
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The Flames have one overwhelming weakness, the lack of a quality #1 center. I would much rather spend the big bucks to fill this spot (which may mean not resigning Jokinen) than on Semin.

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#38 MC Hockey
April 30 2012, 08:02PM
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Graham wrote:

The Flames have one overwhelming weakness, the lack of a quality #1 center. I would much rather spend the big bucks to fill this spot (which may mean not resigning Jokinen) than on Semin.

Agreed...can you sign overpay for Parise for a couple years...I'd be OK with that...make it long-term (but not over 9 years) to average it down for cap purposes and NEVER again sign Olli as the Joker will FOOL you with worse play if it's not a renewal year.

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#39 BAS
April 30 2012, 09:52PM
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@Cory Dakin

You'll be happy to know that Semin actually plays RW. He's only played a couple games at left wing, it never lasts long.

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#40 flyin ryan
April 30 2012, 10:06PM
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Semin...here? Put down the crack pipe, that's one Russian I don't want any part of in Oiler silks going forward...

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#41 Rob in DC
May 01 2012, 09:13AM
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Not sure if anyone is still reading this post, but thought I'd add some info since (thanks to DVR and NHL Gamecenter) I've seen about 97% of his games over since the lockout.

1) He can be very frustrating. There's just no denying that the word "enigmatic" truly describes him.

2) His PP numbers are drastically unrepresentative of how good he can be. He plays on the 2nd PP unit with Keith Aucoin and sometimes Troy Brouwer or Jason Chimera or some other 3rd or 4th liner. I get so upset watching the 1st PP struggle so mightily knowing that they aren't using Semin effectively. When he does get time and OV is on the point, the plan is to feed pucks from the half-wall (where Semin plays) up to OV for a shot with Laich in front of the net. That's not a great way for Semin to get points.

3) He can kill penalties with the best of them. When he was killing for the previous few seasons, he was lethal. He was constantly creating short-handed opportunities, he's got a long reach to get to pucks, and he's got such great hands that anytime he's near a puck, he's going to get it out of the zone.

4) He has never had a true center. I mean, that says it all. In the playoffs, he's been playing with Backstrom, and honestly, if you watch (and even Millbury who hates Semin admits this) he's been great. If he could get a legit top-line center, there's no limit to what he might be able to do.

5) The lame stick penalties were a big problem. Since Hunter took over, he's been much more careful. Sadly, bad habits don't always go away. It's definitely something to be worried about.

6th and Finally) $6.7MM is a lot. Many of the comments up above are right. For where his point totals are, he's just not worth that. However, at somewhere under $6MM, the team that lands him will get a guy that should immediately make any top line in the league better, he has a lethal shot to help any PP and is the 2nd best passer on the Caps behind only Backstrom, and he's great short-handed when given the opportunity.

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#42 Greg Stink | ESPN
May 01 2012, 11:09AM
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Cory Dakin wrote:

European player with no heart and an inability to show up when it matters most? I thought he was playing for Vancouver.

If you are referring to the Sedins, I think you picked the wrong two players to single out. You are wrong to suggest they have no heart and don't show up when it matters. They were both pretty good in the LA series. Henrik had 5 pts in 5 games, Daniel had 2 pts in 2 games. I'm not a Canucks fan at all, but let's get real here.

How about Ryan Kesler? 40 goal man with 0 goals in the LA series. Burrows? 1 pt in the series. Booth 1 pt. Higgins 0pts. And Kassian barely played. How's that trade looking so far?

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