1 semin IIThere is a little ‘riverboat gambler’ in Marc Bergevin after all.

Friday he announced the signing of controversial right winger Alexander Semin to a one year 1.1 million dollar contract.

Semin had an awful season last year in Carolina producing only 6 goals and 13 assists in 57 games. Despite the fact that he had scored 22 goals and 42 points the year before, the Hurricanes could hardly wait to get rid of him, buying out the final two years of his five year 35-million dollar contract.

“Enigmatic”.  There’s that word again.

Over his career, Semin has had a lot of Alex Kovalev in him. When he’s been good, he’s been very, very good. In the past Semin has shown to be a great skater with terrific wrist shot, although he hasn’t used as much as he did in his early years. He has extraordinarily soft hands and is terrific in one-on-one situations. The advanced statistics crowd like to point out that when Semin is on the ice, his teammates are better.  On his bad side, he can gamble more than his coaches like. His focus level and discipline have been erratic. We often here the words “talented, but lazy” in reference to Semin’s play. Carolina coach Bill Peters touched on that last season when he benched Semin for several game for “not playing the game with pace”.  ‘Canes GM Ron Francis refered to it as a “lack of compete level”.

But the situation in Montreal could be quite different. The Hurricanes expected a superstar when they signed Semin to a five-year 35 million dollar contract.  Nobody has those expectations in Montreal.  He is a highly skilled but flawed player and the best contract he could get was one year at 1.1 million dollars.  If where to score 20 goals and put in a decent level of effort nobody is going to complain.  The Canadiens dressing room leadership group will easily take care of whatever perceived past shortcomings he might have had as a teammate.

1 semin IVIn Semin’s rookie season with Washington he scored 38 goals. The next five seasons his goal totals were 26; 34; 40; 28 and 21. Then he got the big UFA money from Carolina. He scored 13 in the lockout-shortened 2013 season followed by 22 and the six of last season.

If you’re looking for excuses, he has suffered a couple of concussions over the last two seasons and he underwent wrist surgery before last season.  The wrist problem might explain the fact that Semin went from being a player that  recorded 3.4 shots on goal a game to 1.6 last season.  (Last season Max Pacioretty averaged 3.7 shots a game)  It should be noted that during the second half of the season, Semin’s shots on goal average increased appreciably.

In his Washington days, Semin had a reputation for being very effective on the power play, an area in which the Canadiens are woefully inept. Playing with Alex Ovechkin might have had a lot to do with his success with the Capitals, but the Canadiens have Max Pacioretty on the left side on the power play and it’s possible Bergevin had that in the back of his mind when he approached Semin with a contract offer.

When the summer started Brendan Gallagher was the only forward the Canadiens could count upon to produce offense from the right side. In the last month, Bergevin has added not only Semin but Zack Kassian to the RW depth chart and, at the same time, markedly increased size at the position. Semin is 6’2” and 210 lbs. Kassian is 6’3”.

Now it will be up to Michel Therrien and his coaching staff to get their games turned around.

Late last season Semin scored one of the highlight reel goals-of-the-year –


The Canadiens also announced forward Daniel Audette had signed his three-year, entry-level contract on Friday.  The 19-year-old was drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL draft.     Audette led the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Sherbrooke Phoenix last season with 77 points (29 goals, 44 assists) in 60 regular season games. He is expected to return to Sherbrooke for his final junior season in 2015-2016.