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


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.”

Skinner may be parked as Peters keeps swinging ‘ultimate hammer’ in Carolina


First it was Alex Semin, then Elias Lindholm.

Now… Jeff Skinner?

The 22-year-old might be parked as a healthy scratch tomorrow when the ‘Canes take on the Coyotes in Arizona. Head coach Bill Peters — who, upon taking the ‘Canes job, said “I have the ultimate hammer as the coach, and the hammer is the ice time,” — had Skinner rotating in and out of Wednesday’s line rushes, and delivered a not-so-subtle message afterward.

“He’s an offensive player who needs to provide offense. You’ve got to provide that primary dimension as an athlete, doing what you’re paid to do. And if you’re not doing that, you’ve got to have a B-game,” Peters explained, per the ‘Canes website. “Right now, his B-game is not good enough to make up for the lack of offense.”

The former Calder winner has had a rough go the last few games, going eight straight without a goal (while posting a minus-5 rating). Tuesday night in Anaheim, with the Canes up one and on a 5-on-3 power play, Skinner was whistled for an offensive-zone tripping penalty.

Peters hasn’t been afraid to send messages this season via the healthy scratch. Semin’s been parked in the press box on numerous occasions and, over the weekend, Lindholm was scratched for a game against the Rangers in New York.

Now, it could be Skinner’s turn.

“I talk about competitive people being in a competitive environment and we want to win,” Peters said in late January after dropping Semin from the lineup, per the Raleigh News & Observer. “We are playing our best 20 players in order to win hockey (games).

“That’s the lineup. It’s not hard.”

Peters has been no-nonsense since Day 1 in Carolina and this latest instance with Skinner — and center Riley Nash, who was skating as a d-man with John-Michael Liles today — shows that he’s not afraid to discipline those that don’t fall in line.

And to be fair, the approach seems to have paid off. After a terrible start to the year, Carolina is 7-3-3 in its last 13 and gave Anaheim all it could handle last night at the Honda Center, losing 5-4 in OT after blowing a two-goal third period lead.

Carolina won’t buy out Semin after season, says Francis


We wrote yesterday about ‘Canes head coach Bill Peters possibly reaching his breaking point with struggling forward Alex Semin, who was a healthy scratch for Tuesday’s win over Tampa Bay.

Peters’ boss, Carolina GM Ron Francis, doesn’t appear to be as close to breaking.

From the Raleigh News & Observer:

The Canes’ options with Semin include placing him on waivers, sending him to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League or buying him out after the season.

Francis indicated the Canes would not do the latter.

“Alex is a part of the Hurricanes and we’ll continue to work with him and try to help him be the player we think he can be,” Francis said. “Things are different now in the way we are running things and what we expect. Our job is to continue to work with him and get the message through.

“We think we can do it. We’re not giving up on him at all.”

Not surprising to learn that Carolina’s passing on the buyout route. Since amnestying contracts is no longer on the table, utilizing a standard buyout for remainder of Semin’s five-year, $35 million deal would be a really expensive proposition for the ‘Canes — though to be fair, another team with financial issues, Arizona, used a one on Mike Ribeiro last June.

What Francis didn’t rule out, though, was the waiver route and a possible demotion to the AHL. In the world of guaranteed contracts and salary caps, it’s one of the few motivational tools general managers have at their disposal; we saw this recently with the L.A. Kings and forward Mike Richards, who was waived then sent to AHL Manchester after clearing.

Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said Richards needed to “re-find his passion and his love for the game,” while GM Dean Lombardi said “it’s up to Mike.”

Semin would almost undoubtedly clear waivers if placed on the wire. Could a wake-up trip to AHL Charlotte deliver the message Peters has been trying to send?

Five notable names who have yet to score a goal


Remember last season when Claude Giroux didn’t score his first goal until his 16th game?

Well, there isn’t a name quite as big as Giroux’s on the still-goalless list in 2014-15, but there are some notable ones nonetheless…

Matt Moulson: no goals in 14 games, with 24 shots.

“It becomes a mental battle,” Moulson said, per the Buffalo News. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t lose a couple of nights sleep over this past little while. You have to keep working. It’s amazing how a goal off your leg or your behind all of a sudden injects confidence into your game.”

At least Moulson’s misery has some company on the struggling Sabres. Teammate Brian Gionta has no goals on 21 shots.

— Ales Hemsky: no goals in 12 games, with 20 shots.

“It’s a new city, new surroundings, new coaches. That takes time,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said recently in Hemsky’s defense. “You go around the league and look at players that have switched teams. I can probably give you three or four right away, and you’ll say, ‘Man, that guy hasn’t scored yet.’ It’s not easy.”

— Alex Semin: no goals in nine games, with 12 shots.

Another unproductive night Tuesday versus Columbus for the man with the $7 million cap hit. He didn’t even register a shot against the Blue Jackets, after sitting three games as a healthy scratch.

— Nick Bjugstad: no goals in 10 games, with 28 shots.

Notable mostly because of all those shots. Among NHL forwards, he’s tied with Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg for the most shots without a goal.

“Nick has been a great player for us. He’s probably hit five or six goalposts, he’s played real well and it’s just some tough luck right now. You go through those things,” coach Gerard Gallant said, per the Sun Sentinel. “The good thing is we’re playing pretty good hockey and we know Nick is going to score, the other guys are going to score goals, it’s just a matter of time.”

— Olli Jokinen: no goals in 12 games, with 21 shots.

But the 35-year-old is clearly doing something right in the eyes of coach Peter Laviolette, given he played a season-high 16:32 Tuesday in Winnipeg.

“Olli Jokinen has been on the power play his whole life and we’ve asked him to come in here and kill penalties and play the wing and help out [center Calle Jarnkrok],” Laviolette said, per the Predators’ website. “That’s all he does every day. When that happens, your team evolves and becomes stronger.”

Honorable mentions: Derek Roy (19 shots), Ryan Strome (23), Darren Helm (18), Mathieu Perreault (22), Dominic Moore (21), Rene Bourque (18), Tomas Jurco (22),  Tomas Fleischmann (17), Jeremy Morin (21).

*Only forwards were considered for the above, but d-men Drew Doughty and Kevin Bieksa each have 31 shots with no goals.

Semin likely back in tomorrow after healthy scratch


After spending two games in the press box, it looks like Alex Semin will be back in the Hurricanes’ lineup on Tuesday, per the News & Observer. The 30-year-old forward skated alongside Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty during Monday’s practice.

Semin has surpassed the 70-point mark three times in his career and scored 40 goals in 2009-10, but he’s also been inconsistent and, fairly or not, concerns have been raised in the past about his work ethic and level of commitment. That’s likely why Semin ended up agreeing to a one season trial with Carolina as a free agent in 2012. He had 44 points in 44 games in that lockout shortened season and the Hurricanes inked him to a five-year, $35 million extension.

He was limited to just 22 goals and 42 points in 65 contests in 2013-14, but he also suffered a concussion early in that campaign. However, he’s been healthy this season and only has two assists in eight games.

Carolina won back-to-back games without Semin after losing its first eight contests of the season. The Hurricanes will try to build on that momentum when they face Columbus on Tuesday.