Why, the correct answer would be...............$7M.
Seven million, really?
Yup, the one year contract that free agent Alexander Semin signed was actually $300K more than he made last season with the Washington Capitals.
The Caps never had any serious thoughts about re-signing their very talented winger, although word was that they would think about it at a lower salary.
Semin was said to be looking at a longer term, but no one really wanted to commit to a player who's work ethic has been roundly questioned, critiqued and/or criticized. Even Carolina GM Jim Rutherford had questions about it, yet they still dropped $7M on Semin.
It's more of a harmonic convergence than anything.
The 'Canes had been looking for a scoring winger to line up with the Staal brothers and when they dropped out of the Nash sweepstakes, they directed their focus onto Shane Doan and Semin.
With Shane Doan uncommitted to anything, it would seem as if Carolina decided to make the move for the best free agent forward available.
Rutherford knew what he was getting into. He said this after dropping out of the Nash sweepstakes, "We would look at Semin on a short-term basis," he said on July 5th. "We wouldn't want to get locked in to anything because we've heard all the stories about him."
If that's the case, why give him $7M? Wouldn't he sign for less?
Semin was clearly the best forward available on the free agent market behind Doan. After those two, the drop off is significant. All that's left are bottom-six forwards like Thomas Holmstrom and Kristian Huselius or aged vets like Jason Arnott and Brian Rolston. And his agent knew it. And he also knew that the 'Canes were looking for a top-six/top-line winger and that his client was the only one available that fit their needs.
He also knew that Carolina was one of many teams who were under the cap floor, so they needed to spend money anyway.
At the time of the signing the 'Canes were roughly $4M under the cap floor. As of right now there are still six teams teetering around that $54M level--Anaheim, Colorado, Florida, Nashville, St. Louis and Dallas. Ottawa and Winnipeg are a decent chunk under at $51M and $50M, respectively, while the NY Islanders ($47M) and Phoenix ($44M) are significantly below the floor.
The Semin camp may have been able to work something out with those teams, but Carolina was the best match, all things considered.
As for the Hurricane, they needed to add salary. Looking at the free agent market, they could have added two bottom-six players at $2-3M each, but what purpose does that serve? They needed a top-line winger. Semin has top-line skills and they needed to spend money.
Add it all up and Alexander Semin is one lucky dude.