Alexander Semin has scored 238 goals in his NHL career but managed a career-low six this season for the Carolina Hurricanes. He was injured at times, made a healthy scratch at times and played reasonably well at times late in the season.
But with a $7 million-a-year salary and three years remaining on his contract, Semin realizes much more is expected. And while the Russian winger tends to shy away from the media, he did take a few minutes Monday to discuss the reasons for a season gone awry.
"Tough season," he said. "Tough season for team, for me. I don't know. Maybe we were learning a new system from our coach? I hope we play better next season."
Semin had 22 goals for the Canes in 2013-2014, then soon underwent surgery for a wrist injury that was said to have hampered him during the season. Asked Monday if he was healthy or injured much of this season, he said, "I don't know what has happened with me this year. I don't know what else to say. Sorry."
Semin said he liked new coach Bill Peters and a coaching staff that includes assistants Rod Brind'Amour and Steve Smith. He said he liked Peters' system, noting it took about half the season to full learn it and adapt his game to it.
Semin, 31, once scored 40 goals for the Washington Capitals and had 38 in another season with the Caps. In his first season with the Canes, he had 13 goals and 31 assists (44 points) in 44 games during the NHL lockout year.
This season, he appeared to hesitate on shots or pass up open shots. His 93 shots this season were his fewest since getting off 92 as a rookie with the Caps in 2003-2004, and his 6.5-percent shooting percentage was a career worst.
Can he return to the form that made him a 20-to-30-goal scorer, or better?
"I know I score six goals this season and (it's) not great for me," he said. "I had surgery last summer. Maybe that was (the) problem. Last half of season I feel great and have more shots and I feel better. I hope next season I feel all right."
Looking to next season and the potential team changes that could be made, Semin said the Canes "probably need some better play in the defense." Asked if the Canes, who were decisively outscored five-on-five, had enough capable scorers, he mentioned that others had struggled offensively -- Jeff Skinner had 18 goals, Jordan Staal had six -- and said it would take a collective effort.
Semin said he would return to Russia -- he's not playing in the World Championships -- but planned to return to Raleigh on July 2.
Peters said more than once during the season that Semin's conditioning was a problem and that he was not physically able to play at an NHL pace. An early return to Raleigh could afford him more time for conditioning work and a jump start on next season.