Author: Jason Brough

Carolina Hurricanes v Columbus Blue Jackets

Discuss: Where’s the best fit for Alex Semin?


Alex Semin isn’t the only NHLer who’s been accused of wasting his God-given talent.

Two others — Phil Kessel and Zack Kassian — were traded yesterday. The latter vowed today to figure out in Montreal.

But Semin remains unsigned. Earlier this week, he was bought out by the Hurricanes, whose GM proceeded to say of the 31-year-old winger: “He did not have that high compete level, for whatever reason.”

He didn’t score many goals either. Just six of them in 57 games last season, while seeing his ice time fall to an average of 15:55, the lowest since his rookie campaign over a decade ago.

In 2009-10, Semin scored 40 goals for the Capitals. He has 238 tallies in 638 career NHL games.

Hence, his agent’s claim that there was immediate interest in his client.

For a cheap, short-term prove-it deal, signing Semin has the potential to pay off.

Maybe he joins a contending team, unlike Carolina, and rediscovers his enthusiasm.

Maybe he has a little more puck luck. His shooting percentage dipped to 6.5 percent last season, whereas his career rate is almost double that (12.8).

Maybe he’s a complete bust and at least he was cheap.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are still looking for a winger. Imagine Semin and Phil Kessel on the same team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin?

The Florida Panthers could use a scoring winger, though there may be a concern about Semin’s attitude around all those talented young players.

The Devils need to score more.

Any other teams come to mind?

Kassian vows to give it all for Habs: ‘As you grow older, you mature’

Zack Kassian

“My time in Vancouver, deep down I feel I could have given more and I think they knew that.”

If there was one quote that left Canucks fans shaking their heads yesterday, that was probably it. Zack Kassian admitted that he didn’t give it 100 percent.

It’s been suggested that Canucks management should take much of the blame for Kassian’s failure to develop into an impact player, on a team that desperately needed him to be one. But, ultimately, it’s up to the player to fulfill his own potential.

Now a member of the Montreal Canadiens, the 24-year-old is vowing to apply the lessons he learned in both Buffalo, which drafted him 13th overall in 2009, and Vancouver, which traded Cody Hodgson to get him in 2012.

“It’s a tough league. As you grow older, you mature,” Kassian said Thursday.

“I really feel like Montreal’s a great fit for me. I’m ready to do everything to help the team win. I’m excited to get there. At the end of the day, nobody wants to get traded two times. But it’s a learning curve.”

For the record, Kassian says his back is fine: “Everything’s good, very healthy.”

He also rejected the notion that he’s been miscast as a big, tough power forward: “I can play physical, I can grind it, I like the cycle game. But at the same time, I like to make plays. I like to score goals. I think when I’m at my best, I can kind of do both.”

The Canadiens did not take a huge gamble on Kassian. They gave up popular forward Brandon Prust, but he’s 31 and only a year away from unrestricted free agency. Kassian is the one with the upside. And besides, the Canucks threw in a fifth-round draft pick. 

“There’s a reason why players are available, but I’ve talked to the young man and we’ve done our homework,” Habs GM Marc Bergevin said“We believe that he has potential.”

Of course, that’s what they said in Buffalo and Vancouver.

We’ll see what happens in Montreal.

It may be Kassian’s last chance.

Bruins sign Beleskey for five years, despite some warning signs


The Boston Bruins want to get back to playing Bruins hockey.

They also want to score more goals.

For those two reasons, the signing of Matt Beleskey makes sense. The 27-year-old winger was among Anaheim’s leaders in hits last season, plus he chipped in 22 goals, then eight more in the playoffs.

But here’s why the Bruins are taking a risk in reportedly giving the unrestricted free agent a five-year commitment, with a cap hit of $3.8 million:

Beleskey scored on 15.2 percent of his shots in 2014-15. Which was a good thing. But his career rate is 9.9, suggesting he may have picked a really profitable season to have some shooting luck.

It’s also possible that skating mostly with Ryan Kesler, plus a fair bit with Ryan Getzlaf, helped Beleskey’s numbers. In 329 career NHL games, Beleskey only has 57 goals.

Look, let’s just say people were saying similar things about UFA David Clarkson, right before Clarkson signed that disastrous contract with the Leafs.

Maybe the Beleskey signing works out a lot better for the Bruins. At the very least, the cap hit and term are considerably less onerous than Clarkson’s. Plus, the Bruins aren’t the Leafs. And if Beleskey gets time with Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci, he’ll be in a position to succeed.

As always on July 1, only time will tell.

Related: Beleskey rejects Ducks’ offer, headed to free agency