Alexander Semin has signed on with the Carolina Hurricanes for one-year at $7M. After the Hurricanes made the biggest splash at the NHL Draft last June by trading for Jordan Staal, the ‘Canes have now added another high-octane winger to their arsenal. Semin was arguably the most offensively gifted free agent on the market, only questions of character and effort kept him from getting a Zach Parise-esque contract.
Traditional logic dictates that the ‘Canes are in need of more defense, not more offense. Traditional logic doesn’t always apply to professional sports. Carolina has Cam Ward, one of the better goalies in the NHL, and likely feel that he can make up for the team’s defensive shortcomings. Especially if the top-6 forwards can pound the net for three goals per game.
One thing’s for sure, the Southeast division just got even more competitive.
On paper the ‘Canes no longer look like bottom-feeders. But they’re not the only Southeast team who’s improved this offseason. The division champion Florida Panthers continue to improve in-house as quality draft picks make their way to the show. The Tampa Bay Lightning, on the other hand, chose trades and free agency as their route to improvement. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman addressed defensive shortcomings by signing free agent defensemen Matt Carle and Sami Salo, and trading for goaltender Anders Lindback. The Washington Capitals lost Alexander Semin, but they also saw the emergence of goaltender Braden Holtby in last year’s playoffs, signed an allegedly healthy Mike Green to a lucrative deal, and still boast Alexander Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom on their top line.
Where does this leave the Jets?
It wasn’t long ago that the Southeast was easily the worst division in hockey, something that allowed the Capitals to cruise to four consecutive division championships (’07-’08 through ’10-’11) and the President Trophy in ’09-’10. Today there are five quality teams in the division. And the Jets are going to have a lot of work to do to prove that they’re not the weakest link.