Author: Ryan Dadoun

Alex Semin

Francis: Semin in 14-15 didn’t have ‘high compete level’

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The Carolina Hurricanes plan to buy out Alex Semin’s contract after just two seasons of his five-year, $35 million deal. The move wasn’t shocking given that he scored just six goals and 19 points in 57 contests in 2014-15, but Hurricanes GM Ron Francis nevertheless made made his rationale clear.

“He certainly has had some injuries, but last season he did not have the compete level we expect,” Francis told the News & Observer. “We talk about holding our players accountable, and there were some things we felt he did not hold up to, so we made this decision.

“When we talk about accountability and a consistently high compete level, we have to follow through, or they make no sense. He did not have that high compete level, for whatever reason.”

Semin has had some terrific stretches in his career, but inconsistency has been a problem. As his former coach Bruce Boudreau put it back in 2013, “[Semin] can show flashes of absolute brilliance one minute. Then you’re going, ‘What are you doing?’ the next.”

Despite the latest setback, his agent remains confident that Semin will play in the NHL next season as teams have already expressed interest in him. He’ll be one of the more intriguing free agents on the market.

Will the next team that signs him be getting an 80-point player? Or will his struggles persist?

Blues won’t make significant addition until Tarasenko is signed

Vladimir Tarasenko
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The St. Louis Blues have a healthy amount of cap space and some moderate, primarily depth-related needs, but they might be inactive in Day 1 of the free agent period. That’s because Blues GM Doug Armstrong plans to remain in a holding pattern until the team’s negotiations with restricted free agent Vladimir Tarasenko has come to a resolution.

“We’ll talk to our own restricted free agents, but we’re going to stay away from the unrestricteds until we find out what Vladi’s intentions are,” Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “If we can find the depth player that we want, we’re going to fill out our roster. But as far as making a significant addition to our team, we’re not looking for a top-five defenseman or a top-10 forward until we get Vladi done.”

Part of the reason for that position is to guard against the threat of an offer sheet. Armstrong doesn’t think Tarasenko will end up signing one, but as long as the Blues don’t indulge in the UFA or trade markets, they’re in a position to match any contract another team puts in front of the 23-year-old star forward.

While offer sheets are rare, the threat of one seems to have guided the trade market recently. In the last week we’ve seen Boston ship Dougie Hamilton to Calgary and Chicago trade Brandon Saad to Columbus.

Meanwhile, forwards Olli Jokinen and Marcel Goc as well as defensemen Zbynek Michalek and Barret Jackman are among the players that St. Louis is letting test the unrestricted free agent waters.

Related: Armstrong doesn’t see the Blues, Tarasenko being ‘very far apart in dollars’

PHT Morning Skate: Penguins quest for top-six forward continues into UFA fenzy

Justin Williams
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

With the free agent period about to begin, what players are the Pittsburgh Penguins likely to target to bolster their top two lines? (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The Philadelphia Flyers will hold Kimmo Timonen’s retirement ceremony on Oct. 14 when they host the Chicago Blackhawks. (Flyers.nhl.com)

Here’s a thorough look at the situation in Buffalo after GM Tim Murray’s flurry of moves. (Puck Daddy)

Expectations are high for Avalanche GM Joe Sakic going into the free agent frenzy. (Denver Post)

Calgary has Dougie Hamilton locked up, so now the focus will shift back to re-signing Mark Giordano. (Calgary Sun)

Could Matt Beleskey end up with Toronto? (Toronto Sun)

Wings buy out Weiss after two rocky seasons

Stephen Weiss
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The Stephen Weiss experiment is over in Detroit. After completing just two seasons of his five-year, $24.5 million contract, the Detroit Red Wings have bought him out, per the Detroit Free Press.

At his height, Weiss enjoyed 61, 60, and 57-point campaigns over the span of a four-season stretch with the Florida Panthers from 2008-12. However, groin problems limited Weiss to just 26 contests in his first season with the Red Wings in 2013-14. To make matters worse, he only had two goals and four points when he did play.

Weiss averaged a mere 11:20 minutes per contest last season and finished with nine goals and 25 points in 52 games.

Despite his decline in the Red Wings’ depth charts, there was some debate about using Weiss to hedge their bets after Pavel Datsyuk underwent ankle surgery. However, Red Wings GM Ken Holland wants to give his younger players an opportunity.

“We want to see what (Dylan) Larkin can do,” Holland said. “Andreas Athanasiou had a good year, where is he at? We’re going with our own younger people who have put a resume together at the AHL level, and are on the verge of trying to establish themselves in the NHL. At some point in time this year, we’re hoping a lot of our young kids will be NHL players.”

Weiss’ buyout will cost Detroit roughly $10 million in cap space over the next six years. However, it will save the Red Wings about $3.8 million for each of the next two seasons compared to the full cost of his contract.

Trade: Oilers get Korpikoski from Coyotes for Gordon

Lauri Korpikoski
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The Arizona Coyotes announced that they have traded Lauri Korpikoski to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Boyd Gordon.

Korpikoski set career-highs in 2010-11 with 19 goals and 40 points, but he hasn’t been able to replicate that level of offensive success in recent years. The 28-year-old forward was limited to six goals, 15 assists, and a minus-27 rating in 69 contests last season. At the same time, he averaged 1:41 minutes of shorthanded ice time per game and finished second among Coyotes forwards with 141 hits.

He comes with an annual cap hit of $2.5 million for the next two campaigns. Gordon will cost Arizona $3 million next season, although he’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after that.

Gordon previously spent two seasons with the Coyotes before signing with Edmonton in the summer of 2013. The 31-year-old center has never reached the 30-point mark in a single campaign, but he does excel on the draw. He won 55.9% of his faceoffs in 2014-15 and has a 55.3% career record. He also led all Oilers forwards last season with an average of 2:24 minutes of ice time in shorthanded situations.