- Neil Greenberg, NHL
When the Carolina Hurricanes signed Alexander Semin to a one-year, $7 million deal, it was considered by many a risky move, but one that general manager Jim Rutherford felt they could -- and should -- make.
"Alexander's elite skill level and ability to score from the wing fill an important need on the ice," Rutherford explained at the time of the signing. "And we hope that a fresh start in Carolina will serve both Alexander and our team well."
So far the gamble has paid off. The Russian sniper has returned to being a point-per-game player for Carolina (30 points in 29 games). However, this time around, Semin has way more assists (a team-best 22) than goals (eight).
"Semin's really been the playmaker of the line, which has been a bit of a surprise," said Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller. "Guys like that tend to adapt to the players they're playing with. Eric (Staal) is a straight-forward, drive-to-the-net guy, and Alex is a smart player. (Jiri) Tlusty is a mix of a playmaker and a scorer, so Alex plays off of Eric and becomes more of a playmaker instead of thinking shot first."
That chemistry has made the trio the second-best scoring line in the league with 22 even-strength goals. Either Semin, Staal or Tlusty have scored in all but two of the team's 15 wins, and the Canes are 13-5-2 when one of those players lights the lamp.