We've been harping on Montreal's lack of quality wingers all summer, especially that the roster makeup may even prevent a player like Alex Galchenyuk from finally playing down the middle. Now that Alex Semin has joined the fold, things are looking a lot healthier on the wings, and Galchenyuk's move to centre seems feasible.
As per usual there are always risks in signing a player like Semin. According to some he may not be the best player in the locker room, however I have never spent any time with him, so I can't comment on it. Another factor is his style of play, which may not mesh perfectly with Michel Therrien's system.
That being said, even if the worst case scenario occurs, and Semin ends up benched for long runs during the season, his cap space mitigates any of the risk. At $1.1M you can send him to the press box and not even blink an eye. Besides, the Habs have done their best to build a team that's infused with Marc Bergevin's famous buzzword: character. If a team built on character can't handle a player like Semin in the locker room, what's the point of focusing on that characteristic?
Now, time for the positives. Despite his struggles with Carolina last season, Semin is a quality player:
As long as the Habs use him in an offensive role, Semin should be fine. In fact, I wouldn't hesitate to play him on the first line alongside Max Pacioretty and whoever ends up centering that trio. He's a right-handed player that knows how to shoot the puck, which is something the Habs haven't had on their roster since Michael Ryder.
That allows Brendan Gallagher to shift down to the second line, and creates a much healthier top six. Semin's signing also sends Zack Kassian to the third line on the right wing depth chart. Of course, a player like Devante-Smith Pelly or Dale Weise would have to shift to the left side, but frankly that's a very minor issue compared to the potential scoring Semin can bring to the lineup.
Semin doesn't turn the Habs into a contender, but he does solidify their roster, and at $1.1M he carries little to no risk. He also produces his best results when he's signed to a one-year deal, so we may see a very motivated Semin this year. It's worth noting that he can help Montreal's terrible powerplay, by adding an extra weapon to the man-advantage arsenal.
Despite his struggles last season with the Hurricanes, Semin managed a 55.9 Corsi For %. He ended up with a career low in terms of shooting (6.5%), and only took a paltry 93 shots on net. If he can receive healthy minutes from the Canadiens he could be primed for a comeback season.
Semin may not pan out for the Habs, but the fact of the matter is that it's a worthwhile gamble for Bergevin and company.