NHL Rumors: Alexander Semin

Fantasy Grapevine - Week 15 

January, 8, 2014
Jack JohnsonAl Bello/Getty ImagesWill an Olympic team snub push Jack Johnson to play better in the second half of 2013-14?
With so many talented NHL players keen to represent their respective countries and only a limited number of Olympic roster spots, a significant number of high-profile players will inevitably be upset by being left on the outside looking in. Mixed with the disappointment of not being able to play is the crushing message that you’re not quite good enough (“Uh sorry, we’d rather 25 guys other than you compete for us on the grandest international stage”). No matter how confident, buoyant or rational a guy’s disposition is, that has to sting. And as usual in these instances, some players are taking their dose of rejection better than others.

One of the more prominent others is Jack Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

As outlined by The Columbus Dispatch, the soon-to-be 27-year-old defenseman is downright peeved -- not only at being left off Team USA but with how the whole selection procedure played out, as revealed in last week’s piece by ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside. That's particularly true because Columbus’ bench boss, Todd Richards, participated in the process as one of the national squad’s assistant coaches.

“I read the article that said three coaches unanimously left me off,” Johnson said. “It’s over now. ... Anything that’s said now is empty and meaningless. When I needed the belief and trust, I didn’t get it, and I didn’t get it when it counted from numerous people.

“The team’s picked. I sat there and watched it on TV along with everybody else. That’s how I heard. From TV.”

You can’t blame the guy for feeling at least a little bit betrayed, particularly since he’s represented the U.S. on 10 previous occasions. But while this flavor of talk often inspires potential trade chatter, there’s no indication the Blue Jackets are willing to entertain that option. If anything, Richards seems determined to smooth things over with his alternate captain.

“Look, I know what he means to this team, this organization,” Richards said. “I know what he’s done here. I got asked a lot over the summer about where this organization’s turnaround started, when we got it going in a different direction, and to me it all started the previous season [2011-12] when we got Jack in that trade [with Los Angeles for Jeff Carter], just the way he handled it. I know the importance he has on this team.”

If anything, the perceived kick in the teeth is likely to serve as an inspiring kick in the pants for the talented blueliner. Maybe it’s no coincidence that Johnson played one of his best games as a Blue Jacket against the New York Rangers on Monday, as suggested by his head coach.

From a fantasy perspective, this development is intriguing. Owned in only 55 percent of leagues, Johnson has put up awful numbers this season as compared with the past. Perhaps the slight by Team USA management is enough to stimulate a turnaround from the former 40-point blueliner.

The Columbus defenseman is hardly alone in this respect.

Fantasy Grapevine - Week 9 

November, 27, 2013
Martin Erat, John-Michael LilesGetty ImagesMartin Erat and John-Michael Liles may both get a change of scenery soon.
Now that the leverage-less Washington Capitals have little choice but to trade a disenchanted Martin Erat, where does the 32-year-old end up?

ESPN's Pierre LeBrun proposes the Vancouver Canucks are among a gaggle of teams intrigued by the idea of dealing for the proven winger. The point is, there is interest. And, wherever he lands next, Erat's fantasy value is set to grow considerably.

A square peg that never fit comfortably into coach Adam Oates' lineup template of round holes, Erat stands an excellent chance of reclaiming his productive touch elsewhere. History tells us as much. This is a guy who succeeded in putting up good numbers, consistently, for the Nashville Predators (not the most explosive team on offense, right?) over nearly eleven seasons. That talent and skill set combo doesn't just dissolve overnight.

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NHL Morning Links - Nov. 21 

November, 21, 2013
Despite their place in the standings, the Buffalo Sabres have remained in the forefront of NHL thought recently, as there were rumors of a coach/GM firing, followed by the actual firing of Ron Rolston and Darcy Regier. But as the search continues for the team's next GM, they experienced a somewhat unique player situation this week: after trying to send Mikhail Grigorenko down to their AHL affiliate for conditioning, they were informed by the NHL that this wasn't allowed. If Grigorenko was to go anywhere else, it would be his QMJHL team. Here's the latest rundown of the situation. With our obligatory Sabres reference out of the way, let's hit the rest of of the links.

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Fantasy Grapevine - Week 8 

November, 20, 2013
Schenn/Del ZottoUSA TODAY SportsBrayden Schenn and Michael Del Zotto could be off to new teams, if rumors are to be believed.
If the latest popular scuttlebutt evolves into reality, a couple of promising young NHLers would soon be on the move. Here's a speculative look at two figures who feature prominently in ongoing trade gossip -- forward Brayden Schenn of the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto -- and the fantasy fallout from a couple of potential transactions.

While the 22-year-old center isn't being actively shopped, TSN's Darren Dreger reports the Flyers have "quietly" informed other teams that Brayden would be available if the "right deal" is on the table. First and foremost, Philly craves quality blue-line help (one good game from an aging Kimmo Timonen doesn't cure all that ails). If GM Paul Holmgren can gain a good, young puck-moving defenseman, and possibly also offload salary cap burden and roster dead weight Andrej Meszaros as part of the package, the loss of Brayden should prove worthwhile.

Pursing that thread, Sportsnet analyst Nick Kypreos proposes a deal sending the younger Schenn brother to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Jake Gardiner. Considering the lack of depth at center (see: Dave Bolland on LTIR) and excess of offensive defenseman (see: Morgan Rielly, and John-Michael Liles in an emergency), the Maple Leafs might be willing to make this move. Especially since Leafs management has reportedly been sweet on Brayden since before he was even drafted (2009).

From a fantasy perspective, such a move does Schenn's owners no favors, at least in the short term. Skating at left wing on a Flyers line with Vincent Lecavalier and Wayne Simmonds, the natural centerman has been all a-blaze, particularly of late (three goals and three assists in five games). A move to Toronto, for example, may result in Schenn battling Nazem Kadri for the second-line centerman's role (assuming Tyler Bozak is fit enough to play on the top unit). However, in the long run, Schenn projects to be a top-six center just about anywhere. Otherwise, center Sean Couturier is likely to most benefit from Schenn's prospective departure.

As for Gardiner (owned in five percent of ESPN.com leagues), a move out of Toronto would undoubtedly bolster the young D-man's fantasy value. Ranked behind Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson on the Leafs' fantasy depth chart, the 23-year-old would benefit from playing a more prominent role elsewhere, predominantly with the man advantage. A team like the Flyers wouldn't pay the price necessary to snag Gardiner unless they had big plans.

Moving on to Del Zotto, our own Pierre LeBrun reports the Ottawa Senators are among a group of five or six teams that have interest in acquiring the struggling Rangers blueliner. Unsatisfied with the play of Patrick Wiercioch and, well, any other offensive defenseman not named Erik Karlsson, the Senators are understandably willing to roll the dice on somewhat unpredictable talent.

Such a move would do wonders for the 23-year-old's tumbling fantasy value. Failing to impress new coach Alain Vigneault, Del Zotto has spent significant time in the press box this season, and his role has been diminished when on the ice. The former first-round draft pick (2008) could undeniably use a change in address, whether that involves joining the Sens, Edmonton Oilers, or another squad altogether.

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NHL Morning Links - Oct. 8 

October, 8, 2013
Monday marked the start of a new weekly feature for us at NHL Insider: the "Next Question" column from our Craig Custance. Each Monday, Custance will examine some big news from the weekend, and check in with his take (and the take from coaches, players, scouts and execs) on what it means moving forward. This week, Craig had some pretty big news fall into his lap, as the Flyers parted ways with Peter Laviolette, so he explored what new coach Craig Berube must do to get Philly back on track. Let's hit the links.

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Canes' top line will stick together 

April, 23, 2013
Regardless of changes the Carolina Hurricanes make in the offseason, the top forward line of Jiri Tlusty, Eric Staal, and Alexander Semin should remain intact for the start of 2013-14. As discussed by the Raleigh News & Observer, that trio has been consistently good during the Hurricanes up-and-down season, and the chemistry continues to ripen.

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Semin's second chance 

February, 15, 2013
When Alexander Semin singed with the Carolina Hurricanes last summer, you could almost hear the snickering from rivals around the NHL.

Despite being among the most talented unrestricted free agents available, the Canes were the only team willing to take a chance on the Russian sniper. During seven seasons with the Washington Capitals Semin had -- fairly or not -- earned a reputation as a soft, lazy and temperamental. But the impression he's left in his first 13 games with the Southeast Division-leading Canes has been decidedly different.

"He has been nothing but great," Eric Staal, Carolina's captain, tells Mark Masters of TSN. "He's been a great teammate for everyone in this room and the type of guy who competes in practice and in games. That's all you can ask for."


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Flyers to trade pick(s) for forward? 

February, 6, 2013
UPDATE: It appears the Philadelphia Flyers intend to stand-pat for now -- as far as brokering a trade is concerned.

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Ovechkin's shift to the right 

January, 24, 2013
UPDATE: The trial may be over -- for the immediate future, anyway.

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