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Rutherford: 'Things Are Falling Into Place'

Monday, 03.25.2013 / 9:45 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
Over a casual lunch in New York City in mid-March, Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford sat down with Alexander Semin to talk about his season, whether he liked playing for Carolina and if he wanted to stay.

Michael Smith
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A week later, on the eve of Semin’s 500th NHL game, Rutherford and the Hurricanes signed the 29-year-old forward to a five-year, $35 million extension, securing him through the 2017-18 season.

“When I knew that I was really in the same ballpark as they were, it was just a matter of negotiating it out over the past week,” Rutherford said in a phone interview on Monday. “Mr. Karmanos has said this is a player we have to resign, and we need to spend the money. He’s given that approval, and we’ve ended up doing it.”

“I love this city. I love the fans. In a short time, I have grown very close with my teammates, coaches and staff in Carolina,” Semin relayed to Canes television analyst Tripp Tracy.

Despite having re-signed both Tim Gleason and Tuomo Ruutu last winter, Rutherford is notably careful of negotiating contracts while in-season. But he knew Semin was a player he wanted to secure long-term before he inched closer to the open market in the summer.

“It’s hard to get elite players in this league, and when you look at Alex’s numbers and compare them to the elite players, his numbers season after season are very strong,” Rutherford said. “It puts an elite player in the lineup for the next five years, and makes a real strong number one line with Eric and Jiri.”

In 30 games this season, Semin has posted a team-leading 22 assists, and he ranks second on the team with 30 points. His plus-18 plus/minus rating ranks second on the team and sixth in the league. The first-line trio of Semin, Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty has recorded 87 points (35g, 52a) and is a collective plus-55.

In the summer of 2012, Rutherford sat out to secure a top-six forward to complement Eric Staal. He ultimately added two, bringing Jordan Staal into the fold via trade as a one-two center punch with his elder brother and signing Semin as a free agent in late July. It was Semin’s third straight one-year contract and first with Carolina. The Krasnoyarsk, Russia, native had spent his first seven seasons in the NHL with Washington.

“Any time a player comes here, he comes with a clean slate. It doesn’t matter what has happened or what the player has done,” Rutherford said. “When signing him, the expectations were to give Eric a real strong winger and for him to come in and put points on the board.

“We really didn’t know Alex and he didn’t know us,” Rutherford continued. “After a period of time, we saw that he was a good fit for our team, and he has clearly passed all expectations.”

The signing brings Semin into the core of players that Carolina has signed through at least the 2015-16 season, including Tuomo Ruutu, Jeff Skinner, Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Tim Gleason, Jay Harrison and Cam Ward.

Retaining Semin, who possesses an elite scoring touch and unrivaled playmaking ability, helps to solidify the Canes’ roster for the future, especially heading into a more competitive, big-spending division beginning next season.

“I’d say a lot of things are falling into place,” Rutherford said.



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STANDINGS

[SSS_STANDINGS.METROPOLITAN_DIVISION_LABEL]
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
2 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
3 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
4 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
5 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
6 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
7 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
8 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 79 21 40 -13 61
J. Skinner 71 33 21 -14 54
A. Sekera 74 11 33 4 44
A. Semin 65 22 20 1 42
J. Staal 82 15 25 2 40
J. Faulk 76 5 27 -9 32
N. Gerbe 81 16 15 -6 31
J. Tlusty 68 16 14 2 30
R. Nash 73 10 14 0 24
P. Dwyer 75 8 14 -2 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 19 14 1 .926 2.30
C. Ward 10 12 6 .898 3.06
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