There's change coming to the Washington Capitals this summer and it's not just their head coach. Barring a complete change of heart, forward Alexander Semin won't be back in Washington next season. According to Semin's agent Mark Gandler, the skilled forward has no intentions of signing a contract extension with the Capitals and plans on becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
"It was good while it lasted. With the lack of playoff success, with the direction they are going. They decided to change directions. That's within their rights. Alex doesn't fit into that system obviously," Gandler told ESPN The Magazine. "It just doesn't make any sense to him. He plays, he did the best he could under the circumstances and he earned his right to be a free agent."
Gandler said the strong priority for the Russian native is to play in the NHL rather than in the KHL next season and at 28 years old Semin would prefer to play somewhere his role is being expanded, including time on the penalty kill, rather than diminished.
Even with a new coach coming for the Capitals following Dale Hunter's departure Monday, that role doesn't appear to be in Washington. He averaged 16:47 of ice time this season, the lowest since his rookie year.
"I think the issue is with the organization, not necessarily with the coach," Gandler said. "They told us Alex is not going to play short-handed, he's not going to play in the last minute. He's going to get the same ice time as everybody else ... Alex is not ready to be a role player. He wants to be a full-time player. It's important to him."
Semin, who earned $6.7 million this season, had 21 goals in 77 games for the Capitals in 2011-12, including three in the playoffs. He's two seasons removed from scoring 40 goals under former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau and is an interesting option for teams looking for scoring in a weak free-agent market. Although he was often frustrating in Washington, there still aren't many guys hitting the market capable of scoring 30 or 40 goals.
"I don't know what the market [for him] is going to be," Gandler said. "I know there aren't many players like Alex around."