The Alexander Semin era in Washington appears to be over.
The 28-year-old Russian winger is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and, according to his agent, is unlikely to return to the Capitals.
After declaring to ESPN on Monday that Semin was likely to leave the team via free agency, his agent Mark Gandler joined TSN Radio 1050's Bryan Hayes to outline why his client is unhappy.
"There's no question, he likes Washington and the organization," Gandler said. "He does not like the way he's being used. He does not like the role he has under the [Capitals'] new direction."
After early playoff exits in 2008 and 2009 the team shifted its focus from a run-and-gun offensive system to a more defensively-sound game.
While that type of system might limit the ice-time for an offensive weapon like Semin, Gandler believes that there was still room for his client to thrive.
"I think that Alex, even within that direction that the team wanted to take, can play that way," he said. "If you watch the Capitals, he is the first guy back on every shift."
A one-time 40-goal scorer, Semin has drawn criticism over the years for his inability to produce in the playoffs and, at times, for his on-ice work ethic. Despite putting up 54 points (21 goals, 33 assists) in 77 regular season games this season, Semin recorded just four (three goals, one assist) in 14 playoff games before the Capitals fell to the New York Rangers in the second round.
But Gandler's not buying the criticism.
"Alex Semin is not a lazy player," he said. "Alex Semin works damn hard at each practice and goes to the gym every day on the days off."
"His birth certificate is one of the reasons, but I think the bigger reason is that he's an unassuming person. He doesn't say much, he just plays the game and it's easy to bully somebody like that."
Semin's 187 goals over the past six seasons rank 15th among all NHL players in that time frame ahead of the likes of Jeff Carter, Zach Parise and Phil Kessel.
This summer will mark his first appearance on the open market. He could have become an unrestricted free agent last summer but instead signed a one-year extension with the Capitals in January worth $6.7 million.
Gandler is adamant that Semin will stay in the NHL and not seek a return to Russia in the Kontinental Hockey League. The likelihood of that future being in Washington, however, is likely slim.
"If the team were looking to lock Alex up to a long-term contract we would definitely consider it," Gandler said of the one-year extensions his client signed in 2010 and 2011, "but we felt that we really needed to find short-term deals until such time that either we were sure we wanted to go long-term with the Capitals or just become an unrestricted free agent and see who else is out there."
He is hoping that another team believes strongly enough in Semin to make a determined pitch.
"We're looking for significant term - no question about it," he said, "or the amount of money that we feel he deserves."