Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Player Spotlight: Alexander Semin

He was snakebit in last year’s playoff series against the hated Canadiens and he fights like Donkey Kong, but ‘the other Alex’ in Washington should be far more than an afterthought for fantasy GMs this year.

Alex Semin may be the most underrated player to go in your fantasy draft this year if the Yahoo! And Hockey News fantasy rankings are to be believed. Both lists have Semin ranked outside of the top 25, despite netting 40 goals and 84 points in 73 games last year – good for an overall ranking of 4th on the 2009-10 season according the the Y! rankings. So what’s changed? Semin is still with Washington, is in another contract year, is coming off his healthiest season in his career and still possesses a shot teammates have described as better than Ovechkin’s.  You can bank on Semin putting in 80 points and (assuming your league measures this stat) and taking close to 300 shots to boot.

*Doing my best Vince from Sham-Wow imitation* But wait! There’s more!  Semin posted a very respectable +37  last year, and as long as he’s playing in Washington there isn’t much of a reason to believe that will go down any time soon. And in leagues where truculence counts, Semin provides an added bonus. Semin’s irresponsible play may make Bruce Boudreau cringe, but all those lazy stick penalties added up to 66 minutes last year – Ovechkin and Crosby were the only players who got 80 or more points and posted higher PIM totals than Semin.

In one-year leagues, taking Semin early should be a no-brainer. It is difficult to discern the reason these ‘experts’ ranked the likes of Jason Spezza or Marian Gaborik higher than Semin – they have similar offensive production,  and present a similar injury risk, but they play on worse teams and lack the +/-, PIM, PPP and SOG numbers that Semin offers. Let another GM take those guys that early.

In keeper leagues the situation is more nuanced. Semin is in a one-year contract with the Caps and given their recent signing of Niklas Backstrom to a long-term deal it seems doubtful that he will be in Washington past this coming season. As a result, his long-term value should be considered somewhat lower than his value this season - but I would argue it is not much lower. Semin could end up on a team like Colorado or Los Angeles where his production wouldn’t change much. He could also end up on a weaker team like Dallas or (fingers crossed) Toronto, which might not be so bad either. Like Kovalchuk on the Thrashers, Semin would be the go-to guy on a weaker team, and he’d probably still post 75+ points and his shot totals would go up, but he’d likely suffer a dip in his peripheral numbers – he’d still be a solid 2nd or 3rd keeper forward in any format.

Semin should be a lock in the second round of any fantasy draft – pick him up if you can. You’ll be glad you did.

No comments: