Semin aims to get ‘back to how I can play’

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Alexander Semin’s 2014-15 campaign was a low point in his career, but his newly inked one-year, $1.1 million pack with the Montreal Canadiens offers him a chance to put that behind him.

It’s a modest deal for Semin and not just compared to the five-year, $35 million contract that the Carolina Hurricanes bought out earlier this summer. With the exception of his entry-level contract, he’s never signed an NHL deal with an annual base salary this low, per General Fanager. One could argue that it’s not a surprising sum though after he scored just six goals and 19 points in 57 contests last season.

“Last year I have bad season for me,” Semin said in a conference call following the signing. “No score, no points, I play not well. I try going back to how I can play.”

As for why he didn’t play like he has at his height, he cited the wrist surgery he had over the summer of 2014 as a possible cause. Semin’s agent, Mark Gandler, previously suggested that Hurricanes coach Bill Peters “did not understand Sasha’s game” while Hurricanes GM Ron Francis criticized his “compete level.”

Obviously the first two potential explanations are no longer factors as he won’t be working with Peters next season and his wrist surgery is now well behind him. That leaves the motivation theory and even if you subscribe to that, 2015-16 might be an exception.

The fact that he had to take this contract can be seen as a reflection of how far his stock has fallen. He also reiterated during the conference call that he wants to play in the NHL over the KHL.

If things go terribly in Montreal, then he’ll be in an even weaker negotiating position next summer. At this point, it wouldn’t be overly dramatic to say that he’s not only trying to get back to his old top-tier level of play, but also fighting to simply prove he still belongs at this level.