Alexander Semin (Ghanbari/AP)
Almost two months ago I had a chance to speak with Alexander Semin about the final year of his contract and to ask him whether the negotiations with the Washington Capitals had begun. "Not yet," - Semin told me back then. "Right now, let it be between the team and myself. I am not going to say anything about the contract negotiations right now."
Capitals General Manager George McPhee didn't provide any details at the time either.When I asked him if the team was going to keep Semin, McPhee said: "Sure, yeah. We'll talk to him. We'd like to have him here for a long time. He's a big part of our team. And we like him a lot. So, yes, we'll make an effort to make that happen."
Last week ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, speaking of Semin's contract negotiations, stated that he had heard "things aren't going great on the Semin front." He added: "What makes his case interesting is he's just another season removed from unrestricted free agency (July 2011), so a one-year deal for Semin bridges the gap to [unrestricted free agency] land. Of course, the Caps would want to sign him to more than a year. There is also the fact there are the usual rumbles out of Russia that the KHL has a few suitors interested in a native son come July if he's still unsigned."
I decided to ask Semin's agent, Mark Gandler, a few questions about his client's contract negotiations. "Yes, we started the process and have exchanged ideas," - Gandler told me today. He did admit that it was "impossible to predict" if a contract will be signed before the Olympic break, as the negotiations are at a "very preliminary" stage right now. But Gandler did say that "it's clear that the Capitals want to see Alexander in their line-up."
I asked Gandler if there was a possibility Semin would be traded at the deadline if both sides cannot find a compromise by March. "You don't trade one of your best players from a play-off team to another play-off team. It is self defeating," - Semin's agent replied.
And finally, a lot of fans believe that Semin might give a "discount" to the Capitals. I wondered if this could become an issue in the negotiations. Gandler's reply was firm: "I don't believe in discounts."
The Capitals will have some tough decisions to make regarding their roster in the coming year because of the salary cap. But it looks like the team will make an effort to keep their stars together. Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin will certainly tie up a lot of money. But, as George McPhee told me in September, "They are good players. They are worth investing in."