Carolina ‘looking at all the options’ for Semin, says Francis

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Buyout? Trade?

Keep him?

Those are the options Carolina GM Ron Francis is currently mulling regarding the future of forward Alex Semin. After a disappointing year in which he missed 25 games to injury and healthy scratches — finishing with a career-low six goals — Semin, who has three years and $21 million remaining on his contract, could be done with the ‘Canes in the not-too-distant future.

But as for now, his situation is up in the air.

“It’s too early to say,” Francis said this week, per the Raleigh News & Observer. “We’re looking at all the options. Is it best to keep him here or should we do something else?

“At the right time we’ll do what’s best for our organization.”

The right time could be next week, as GMs first descend on Las Vegas for the NHL Awards, then Florida for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. And with the league’s buyout window now open, this pretty much is the time for Francis and the ‘Canes to decide what to do with Semin.

A buyout would be expensive — $14 million over the next six years. It’s unclear if owner Peter Karmanos would green-light such a move but, if he did, Francis would have some salary freed up to make other moves.

A trade could also be explored, but it’s almost certain the ‘Canes would need to retain salary.

The third option, of course, is for head coach Bill Peters to continue trying to light a fire under Semin. And if Carolina is looking for something to build on, it can point to how the former 40-goal man played in February and March — 10 points in 24 games, hardly earth-shattering totals, but a potential glimmer of hope.

The reality, though, is that most signs point to him playing elsewhere next year. As the Observer noted, Francis’ remark about Semin “doesn’t sound like a general manager expecting to see a player back in his team’s lineup.”