OFB Point-Counterpoint: Trade a Semin or a Green?

Remember the ‘Point-Counterpoint‘ spoof-skits of SNL’s heyday? We’re trying our own this summer, but more respectfully, with our undergraduate interns, Alex and Andrew. Actually, Alex is no longer an undergrad. (Congrats, graduate!) Anyway, to get a hot topic kicked off this offseason, we thought we’d raise the spectre of a big trade: Do the Caps entertain the idea this summer of dealing Alexander Semin or even Mike Green to shake things up a bit? Have at it, Young Guns.

Andrew: As far as Semin’s getting dealt, I don;t see it happening. I remember about a year ago someone mentioned that having Semin allows Ovi to relax and that he is crucial to Ovi’s success. The guy I talked to was pretty credible, too.

Alex: If I’m McPhee I’d trade him at the deadline. Get twenty-something goals from him then trade for a top defenseman for the playoffs. He’s shown he can’t do anything that time of year! Yet!

Andrew: But at the same time Green has shown he doesn’t show up when it counts, either. When the team has really needed him, last year versus the Penguins and this year versus Montreal, he disappeared.  And I’m one who puts a good deal of stock in Stevie Yzerman’s assessment of Greener. He just didn’t want him on the Canadian Olympic team.

If the Caps didn’t have Ovi, Semin would be the team’s no. 1 player, with the exception of maybe Backstrom. At the same time, what would Semin look like if his line was centered by Backstrom? He currently has no one to set him up on the second line.

Alex: I couldn’t agree more with you. But I also feel like Semin’s contract was set up so he would be traded at the deadline because of his UFA status next year.

Andrew: I feel like Semin’s contract was set up to pressure him to perform. It might be like  a T.O. sort of deal for hockey, where the only way he stays focused is if he has to perform to earn another contract. Green’s contract is half over, with only two years on it left, which in my mind, is pretty tradable. I doubt Semin would want to go anywhere once his contract is up; he seems to enjoy DC and certainly loves being with his countryman and best friend.

The real question in my mind isn’t tradability, but rather which guy would give the Caps the best deal?

Alex: Either contract is tradeable, but let’s face it, Mike Green has those two years left on his deal, and isn’t playing for anything but Cup glory. In Bruce Boudreau’s autobiography, Gabby, the coach states his firm belief in Green’s ability — associating with a Paul Coffey-esque type blueliner. Semin meanwhile told the media shortly before the playoffs that Boudreau turned this team into a winner. That tells me that this team is close-knit and it’d be hard to dispose of either player, as their both members of the Young Guns quartet. But close-knit does not mean anything when hockey stops being a sport and becomes a business. I think there are lots of takers out there for Semin and comparatively fewer for Green.  What do you think?

Andrew: To me, it always seems like a team is looking for a  top defenseman. If Green was the odd man out, there’d be an easy way to market him, and that is by comparing the impact he could have on a team to that of Chris Pronger. Sure, Pronger hasn’t been stellar this year in the playoffs, but he does have four goals and 10 assists in 16 games. Essentially he has been a point per playoff game guy.

Semin on the other hand, is a highly skilled player whose production can be found elsewhere this offseason, whether it be Kovalchuk, St. Louis, etc., there is a wealth of highly skilled wingers available for teams this offseason. For some reason, the current hip thing to have is the great dominent shut-down d-man, and the emergence of Carlson and Alzner this season may — just may — make Green expendable, particularly if impressive return can be secured.

To me, the one thing many in the NHL media have neglected to look at is who can the Caps most easily replace. Can they more easily replace Green or Semin? They have great d-men in the system, but not many players like Semin. Who do you think Washington can replace more easily?

Alex: Everyone says this a great situation to be in, to have depth of talent pouring out all sides of an organization. Sure I’ll agree with those people, but it’s these sticky situations that make life difficult for GMGM.

You’re right in assuming Green would be easier to let go of, especially with the likes of Carlson and Alzner stepping into the fold. Losing unrestricted free agents also helps with cap concerns. I’m not sure Green’s points will be missed too much if those two stepped up big time next season and at least combined for 60-70 points.

Semin is probably the more difficult to replace because of his immeasurable skill. I don’t think there is another player who is as rawly gifted physically, technically. He is the Cristiano Ronaldo of hockey, except Cristiano Ronaldo carries Real Madrid. If you don’t know who he is, you will in three or four weeks. Anyway, I feel like the Caps could do without Semin’s 40 goals and still be the top scoring team in the league. Problem is Semin needs that top quality center to play with and until Marcus Johansson is ready, Semin won’t be that consistent potential 60-goal scorer Boudreau believes he can be.

I think swapping Semin at the deadline for a stud defenseman gives the Caps that powerful scoring offense for 60 games and awesome defense for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs, where defense is more crucial. Green is a hybrid defenseman, so what kind of player would he be a good trade for?

Break up the Young Guns?

Andrew: The idea of trading Semin for a d-man brings up the question about where this new blueliner would play. If Carlson and Alzner are with the team next year, as Gabby has inferred, one of Joe Corvo and Shaone Morrisonn is resigned, as many believe is likely to happen, and Schultz is retained, that leaves them with these pairings: Green-Schultz, Poti-Corvo/ShoaMo, Alzner-Carlson. It begs the question where will this new player fit? Gabby loves Schultz, and Green has to be there, so will the team part with Poti or Corvo or ShoaMo. . . and what if they bring Juice back? Personally, I think they are set at defense. Not to mention they are rumored to be interested in signing Anton Volchenkov.

Trading Green may allow them to shore up a position with a lot of questionmarks heading into the season, and that is between the pipes. Sure, everyone is high on Varly, but he hasn’t shown that he can play a full season and be successful. Theo is not going to be back, there is no way GMGM brings back a guy that has only been able to play in the regular season, especially not at the money Jose will want. Michal Neuvirth may be with the team next year, but he hasn’t had a long stay in the NHL yet. Green could net the team a franchise goaltender and perhaps that second-line center that has alluded the Caps for several years. And a pick. Greener is a fantastic player, a great guy, and has a ton of potential, but he just might not fit with what the Caps are trying to do right now. Carlson can replace a lot of Green’s points, and probably sooner rather than later, and almost certainly exceed the level of play that Green has shown us in his own end. Green will probably win the Norris Trophy this year, but it most likely won’t be for his defense. Both Semin and Green have big problems in their games. Semin has his hat trick (a goal, an assist, and an offensive zone penalty) and Green is oftentimes out of place defensively, especially when he brings the puck into the offensive zone.

The major question is can the Caps contend with the team they currently have? And if not, could they still contend if they got a good deal in return for Semin or Green?

Alex: I can only speak for players under contract next season, so I would shy away from saying Corvo will be in the defense corps. About your concern for numbers, there were seven or eight defensemen this season and seeing as how deep at forward the team is, eight d-men isn’t a bad thing — it keeps ’em fresh.

In goal I don’t think Varly is capable of playing 65-70 games yet, but I do think Neuvy and Varly can handle the load. GMGM is not going to waste more cap space on a chance that Martin Biron or Marty Turco will fit the bill if back-up mentor. No chance. I’d be stunned if he made a move for a goalie, especially when goalies aren’t worth as much in this league as a heavy defenseman or pure goal scorer.

I believed, like everyone, that the Caps were going to compete for the Stanley Cup this year. Without Semin next year, I think they are a better team if they can get that stud blueliner. In the same vein, I think Semin’s consistency next year would be much aided by a bonafide second-line center, which could be had through a Green trade, and then some. Tell me if I am wrong.

Andrew: You weren’t the only one who thought this was going to be the Caps’ season. Despite having my concerns about them being tired and the curse of the Presidents’ Trophy, I really thought nothing would stop Washington easily.

Regardless of who if anyone is traded I think we both agree there needs to be some type of move. There is no way GMGM can put the same team back out on the ice and expect different results. Three straight seasons now the Caps have failed to adavnce out of the second round. Trading Green or Semin each brings their own positives and negatives. Regardless of who it is, the Caps must make sure they get a fair deal in the trade, as they certainly aren’t going to be considered sellers at the deadline.

In the end, it is really personal preference on who you would rather see traded. Clearly both trades have their positives. We won’t know who is traded until it happens, if they are traded at all, but you and I both seem to agree that no matter what, some change has to be made.

This entry was posted in Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Bruce Boudreau, Front Office, Mike Green, National Hockey League, NHL Trades, Washington Capitals. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to OFB Point-Counterpoint: Trade a Semin or a Green?

  1. CapsFan1975 says:

    The question is … who is the stud blueliner we could get for Semin at the trading deadline for next year?

  2. Mike says:

    One advantage (if it’s used properly) with Semin is that he’s an alternative to Ovechkin. Put your best shutdown line on Ovechkin and you’ve still got Semin’s line (assuming you get a decent center for him). Trailing late? Put S-O-B out there and let the shots fly. What seemed to kill us against Montreal this year was the lack of adjustments – even after it was clear that Gill was going to meet Ovechkin at the left side and force him to the center and into a bad shot, there was never any adjustment. A rushed shot, no one in position to get the rebound, and no follow-up pressure on Halak. That’s got to change to try and advance in the playoffs.

  3. Michelle says:

    Good points on both sides of the argument. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. (though I am partial to keeping Semin over Green.)

  4. Gozling says:

    I would trade Semin and I would do it before the draft. You would obviously get much more for him now then at the trade deadline. Also with this team being as close as it seems to be (which obviously you guys would know better then most of us) you allow the team to move on much quicker and not disrupt the chemistry of the team just before the playoffs. Then there is the contract situation; I don’t think that you can have that much money tied up in 3 forwards. Look at Tampa Bay of a couple of years ago. I’m not sure they had the minor league system that we might have right now, but they were crippled by the big three contracts. I still think that Fehr given more ice time can produce up to 30-35 goals. Yes he may never make us forget about Semin and that pretty wrister, but he is probably not going to take a lazy hooking call in the offensive zone either.

  5. muddapucker says:

    Green, in my mind, is expendable. Sure he may score more points but he seems to have a knack for being out of position too often that results in goals for the other side.

    Carlson may not score as many points but neither will he give up as many either. More importantly, he won’t give them up at critical times. On the contrary, he seems to score at critical times.

    So far as Semin goes… I think you need to consider that trading him may screw up the Russian chemistry thing. If Semin leaves of his own accord to sign elsewhere in later years thats one thing. However, trading him may be detrimental.

    In the end, I think we have a more reliable defense without Greener yet still have an offensive upside with less risk.

  6. penguin pete says:

    ummm, hello? do we really have time for this trade green, trade semin, trade malkin stuff?

    we need to be putting ALL of our “bitter because we’re golfing” energy into rooting for the Blackhawks….STAT.

  7. xke4me says:

    I’ve never felt that Semin fit in with the Caps. I don’t think he wants to be the alternative to Ovechkin, he wants to be the Ovechkin. Maybe he does need a better set up guy, but at this level, I would expect him to make more of what he has. Send him where he the possibility of being the top dog and he’ll be happy.

    Green is another dilemma. I say give a hard talking -to about being a true defenseman and see what happens. If he starts out the season (or preseason) weak on the blue line, trade him.

    I say this not knowing anything about the options available or how the timing affects the value. I’ll leave that analysis to those who have that knowledge.

  8. Clint says:

    “one of Joe Corvo and Shaone Morrisonn is resigned, as many believe is likely to happen”

    This will not happen.

  9. Der Troubled Eins says:

    This is simple. Trade neither. Guys with Green’s production don’t come along every day. And his defensive play has improved and will continue to improve. What is he, 25? Patience, please.

    And Semin’s production and skill can’t be replaced either. GMGM shouldn’t be concerned about him walking away after his contract. If he does, it’ll be to the KHL. Semin is a quiet, non-English speaking, homesick Russian. He will play where he has Russian friends or back in Russia.

    While the exact same roster will not can not return next year, let’s not forget that one or two measly power play goals in the series and we would not be talking about playoff failures. This team needs improvement at center (2nd line), and possibly a little toughness on the back end. That should be GMGM’s focus.

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  11. trekronor says:

    Semin and Green are symptoms of a larger problem with the Caps – a problem that is magnified when comparing their pitiful playoff performances over the last three years to the likes of the Flyers, Canadiens and Blackhawks. It is the lack of committment to a physical brand of hockey that, with very few exceptions, separates winners and losers in the playoffs – e.g., from the forecheck to the backcheck (see Flyers’ and Blackhawks’), neutral zone defense (see Canadiens), pinching and hustling D-men (see Penguins last year), forwards and D-men who sacrifice their bodies blocking pucks and cutting off passing lanes (see Canadiens), and, don’t forget, a ferocious penalty kill (the Caps were never good on the penalty kill this year, unlike the Flyers for example). You can get rid of Semin and Green and you might have the same problem next year – but put me in the column for getting rid of Semin because he only plays hockey in one zone anyway and a forward like him has to play great defense too (look at Mike Richards who has been unreal these playoffs). Green can at least play defense when he’s managed properly. Boudreau has built a winner in the regular season but three years should teach the organization that this brand of hockey will not succeed in the playoffs. Go FLYERS!

  12. Ed says:

    As high as both writers seem to be on both Green and Semin, they have both shown significant weaknesses in the playoffs. But at the end of the day, I think the Caps need a defensive-minded assistant coach to give them some structure when it gets to the post season. More than anything though, the Caps could do with an assistant coach to stand up to Boudreau once in a while and stop him from blindly believing the Semin and Green will produce when left on the ice. The Habs series showed that when Green or Semin are playing badly, Boudreau’s only solution is to give them more ice time and hope for the best.

    At the end of the day, Semin has shown that, as talented as he is, he shuts down mentally, avoids contact, and forces things when things don’t go his way. It might be worth considering trading him while his regular season production maximises his trade value. And Green just needs to be knocked down a peg to get him to focus on improving defensively, instead of Boudreau blindly praising him and ignoring his problem areas

  13. OvieTracker says:

    With all due respect to Coach BB, you can go on believing in Mike Green’s ability for so long, but then he has to produce when it counts, in the playoffs. Green hasn’t done that. How long will the patience of the coach/GM last? I’d say the clock is ticking on MG finally putting out or heading out the door.

    As for Semin, he’s also shown himself to be a regular season guy who disappears in the playoffs. Whether he wants to be an alternative to Ovie or the next Ovie I can’t say. What I’m interested in is how Ovie himself perceives his fellow Russian. I find it interesting that both these players opted not to participate in the optional practice before the Caps ill-fated Game 7 vs. the Habs. Where were these two and what were they doing that was so much more important than preparing for an elimination game?

    I’m not suggesting that the participation of the two Alexes in the optional practice would have changed the outcome of Game 7. What I am suggesting is perhaps it would have been better for the Caps as a TEAM–led by their Captain and star player–to be fully committed to preparing for Game 7. Even if Ovie felt he didn’t need to work on improving his own game, he could have been at the practice to offer moral support or to help an obviously struggling Semin find himself and his game.

    All this is moot now, of course. If Ovie looks at Semin as his adoring pet who must be protected, I wonder how he will react if his protege ends up on the trading block.

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