Monday night saw what might have been the final nail in the coffin of Alexander Semin. Down a goal late in the game, he took a poorly timed penalty and found himself stapled to the bench for the second time that night. This was just another bump in the road for the tumultuous relationship between Semin and Michel Therrien this season.
While he has shown great possession numbers, Semin hasn't produced at a level that is expected of a player of his calibre.
We've already seen that Therrien isn't afraid to keep the skilled forward in the press box for long stretches, and it's clear that rotating fourth liners is not a viable replacement solution.
This isn't a shot at Brian Flynn, Devante Smith-Pelly or Paul Byron, who have been great this year, they just aren't suited for the duties alongside Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk.
Thankfully the answer could be a lot simpler than forcing a trade or shuffling the lineup overall, there is a multitude of options available on the farm.
The St. John's IceCaps are among the AHL's best in producing goals this season, and have a glut of forwards ready for full-time NHL duty. While some require waivers, there are a few prospects who can be called up and sent down without the chance of losing them to a waiver claim.
Christian Thomas: 16 GP 7G, 7A 14pts
The one they call "Lil Stumpy" is off to the best start of his professional career, with 14 points in 16 games. Playing alongside Daniel Carr and Michael McCarron, they have become one of the top scoring lines in the AHL with 20 goals between them so far this year.
Thomas brings the speed needed to keep up with Galchenyuk and Eller, as well as the best looking wrist shot of all the IceCaps. He could very well fit in as a triggerman for the playmaking ability of Eller and help that line start producing
Bud Holloway: 16 GP 5G, 14A 19pts
A mostly unknown signing this offseason, Holloway has immediately become the center of the IceCaps offense. Playing with Sven Andrighetto/Charles Hudon the veteran forward has found himself among the best AHL scorers this season.
While not possessing the same shot as Thomas, Holloway is a dynamic playmaker and often creates plays out of nothing with brilliant passing. It's also worth noting that the plays on the right wing, which means he's a perfect candidate to replace Semin.
Doesn't Require Waivers
Charles Hudon: 16GP 7G,7A 14pts
Last season's star rookie is primed and ready to break into the NHL this season, and would have an instantaneous impact. Hudon is a serious five-tool prospect in the AHL, currently with phenomenal offensive instincts, good skating, great defensive prowess, a good shot, and the ability to drive scoring on every line.
He topped out at 57 points in his rookie year, and will likely match that same plateau this season. With his well-rounded skillset, he can help take those tougher match ups alongside Eller/Galchenyuk, and free up other lines with easier assignments.
Sven Andrighetto: 16GP 4G, 8A 12pts
Much like Christian Thomas, calling up the Swiss sniper would likely give the Habs second line a triggerman on the wing to help jumpstart the offense.
Last season we saw what the young forward is capable of at the NHL level, when he registered three points in three games on the Habs' fourth line.
He's fast, has a laser beam of a wrist shot, and can dangle in and out of defensemen with ease.
Michael McCarron: 16GP 8G 9A 17pts
The gargantuan rookie forward is proving all of his doubters wrong this season. Playing at over a point per game pace, McCarron has rocketed to the top of the AHL scoring race alongside Bud Holloway.
He's played a very simple game this year, using his large frame to drive the net and create traffic to open scoring chances. There aren't a whole lot of people who can dislodge the 6'6'' forward from the front of the net, and he uses this advantage to earn a lot of high danger scoring chances.
The one flaw with calling up McCarron is that it would cause some shuffling on the second line. He plays centre and the last thing Habs fans want to see is Galchenyuk forced back to the wing, or even Eller shifted to the opposite wing.
The Habs are not strapped for options if they choose to waive or scratch Semin this season. The glut of prospects who can play in his role is a good problem to have, even if they call up one there are still other options if they struggle. While giving up on Semin seems harsh, there's plenty of reason to be excited about who could replace him on the second line.