Canes sign Semin to 5-year, $35 million contract extension

calexander@newsobserver.comMarch 25, 2013 

Alexander Semin will play for the Carolina Hurricanes for more than one shortened NHL season.

The Hurricanes announced Monday that they have signed the forward to a five-year extension that will pay him $7 million per season through the 2017-18 season.

Semin, 29, agreed to a one-year, $7 million free-agent contract in July 2012 after seven seasons with the Washington Capitals. His transition with the Canes has been smooth, as the right winger joined with center and team captain Eric Staal and left wing Jiri Tlusty to form one of the league’s most formidable, productive lines.

“He really completes what has been a dominant first line,” Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said Monday. “We’ve always had a top line with Eric on it, but you need three good pieces to be a dominant line.”

Semin leads the Canes with 22 assists and is second in points (30) and plus/minus rating (plus-18) in 30 games this season.

“He’s an elite player, which are hard to find,” Rutherford said. “You look at his point totals the past few years and they compare favorably with all the other top players. He has played just as well as we had hoped he would play and has fit into our team nicely.”

Semin earned a reputation with the Caps as someone whose play could be inconsistent – an offensive sniper. But the Krasnoyarsk, Russia, native has been a complete player with the Hurricanes, a playmaker offensively but also a player who actively backchecks and is defensively responsible.

“He’s probably the most skilled player I’ve ever played with,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner recently said of his former teammate. “He’s a wizard with that puck. He just knows the game, that’s the thing. When you know the game you can turn yourself into any kind of player you want to be. He’s got skill for the offensive side and skill for the defensive side.”

Semin leads the Canes’ forwards in ice time per game (20 minutes, 39 seconds), and scored his 200th career NHL goal Feb. 11 against the New York Islanders.

Before last season, Rutherford has been reluctant to negotiate player contracts during a season. But he signed defensemen Tim Gleason and forward Tuomo Ruutu each to four-year extensions during the 2011-12 season, and now has moved to re-sign Semin.

Rutherford said he met recently in New York with Mark Gandler, Semin’s agent, to discuss an extension.

“We wanted to be careful, because when you do contract negotiations during a season it can affect the people involved,” Rutherford said. “We were able to figure out a deal that works for both sides.”

The signing was another big-dollar commitment by a franchise that has long described itself as a “budget” team. The Hurricanes signed center Jordan Staal to a 10-year, $60 million extension last July and agreed with forward Jeff Skinner on a six-year, $34.35 million extension in August.

The Canes are battling for the Southeast Division lead and playoff position in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. Next season, under NHL realignment, they will be in a eight-team division with such teams as the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers.

“We know where we are in the standings this year and know what a tough division we will be joining,” Rutherford said. Owner Peter “Karmanos has approved the spending on the payroll and signing Alex Semin is another step forward for us.”

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