Alexander Semin vs. Joffrey Lupul

by Rick Roos on June 3, 2015
JoffreyLupul

 

Battle of the Band-Aid – who has more fantasy value, Semin or Lupul? Roos investigates

 

The theme for this week is “how the once mighty have fallen,” as facing off are former fantasy assets turned frustrations Alexander Semin and Joffrey Lupul. In addition to determining a winner, we’ll see if either player has a realistic hope of returning to past glory, or whether, instead, their recent struggles are the new normal. Cage Match starts now!

 

Career Path and Contract Status

Tabbed as a 1st rounder (13th overall) in 2002, Semin debuted for Washington in 2003-04. But after posting just 22 points in 54 games, he opted to play in Russia during the 2004-05 lockout then was in limbo for 2005-06. Upon returning to the Caps for 2006-07, Semin hit the ground running, to the tune of 73 points in 77 games. Then, after a down 2007-08, he tallied 163 points in 135 games in the next two seasons to vault himself into elite territory.

Or so the Caps – and poolies – thought, as Semin dipped to 108 points in his next 142 games before signing a “prove yourself” one year deal with the Hurricanes. And that he did, with point per game production in 2012-13; but since then it’s been all downhill, with only 42 points in 65 games for 2013-14 and just 19 in 57 this past campaign, during which he even found himself a periodic healthy scratch.

Lupul was taken 7th overall in the same 2002 draft, and, like Semin, was in the NHL by 2003-04, posting 34 points, followed by 53 in 2005-06. But success bought him a ticket from Anaheim to Edmonton, where, after one middling season (28 points), he was traded again – this time to the Flyers.

In Philly, Lupul started strong, with 46 points in 56 games, and continued with 50 in 79 for 2008-09. Not only is that the last time Lupul played 70+ games in a season, but he didn’t even play 30 in any of the next three seasons, leading some to worry his career might be in jeopardy. But he did manage to come back, with a jaw dropping 67 points in 66 games for the Leafs in 2011-12. Yet after a productive, again injury-plagued campaign (18 points in 16 games in 2012-13), his output has since dropped like a stone (65 points in 124 games).

Both are signed through 2017-18, with Semin counting $7M per season against the cap versus $5.25M for Lupul.

 

Ice Time

 

Season

Total Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

SH Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

2014-15

15:55 (A.S.) – 9th

15:29 (J.L.) – 6th

1:30 (A.S.) – 9th

2:09 (J.L.) – 5th

0:00 (A.S.)

0:02 (J.L.) – 14th

2013-14

19:54 (A.S.) – 2nd

18:27 (J.L.) – 4th

3:24 (A.S.) – 1st

2:26 (J.L.) – 4th

0:32 (A.S.) – 9th

0:01 (J.L.) – 12th (tied)

2012-13

20:56 (A.S.) – 2nd

16:07 (J.L.) – 5th

3:33 (A.S.) – 1st (tied)

2:39 (J.L.) – 4th

0:47 (A.S.) – 6th

0:00 (J.L.)

2011-12

16:47 (A.S.) – 6th

18:36 (J.L.) – 3rd

2:31 (A.S.) – 3rd

3:16 (J.L.) – 2nd

0:00 (A.S.)

0:01 (J.L.) – 13th

 

It’s been a feast or famine situation for both players, with each receiving far more Ice Time in two seasons (2012-13 and 2013-14 for Semin; 2011-12 and 2013-14 for Lupul) than the others (2011-12 and 2014-15 for Semin; 2012-13 and 2014-15 for Lupul). The question is how this non-uniform Ice Time has correlated to their production.

Semin only produced well once in these four seasons – when receiving his highest Total and PP Ice Times in 2012-13. Beyond that, not only did he do poorly in 2013-14 despite still receiving a lot of Total Ice Time and PP Ice Time per game (more, in fact, than Lupul had in any of these seasons), but he also struggled in both seasons when his Ice Time was way down. Seeing this, the logical takeaway is Semin would first have to find a way to actually get ample Ice Time once again, which is far from a guarantee given how last season unfolded, plus be able to produce if/when he gets it, which we saw from 2013-14 is not a lock.

Like Semin, Lupul’s best season (2011-12) corresponded to receiving his most Total and PP Ice Time, yet he too played poorly in his other season (2013-14) with more Ice Time. But a distinction between the two lies in the fact that Lupul also performed very well – albeit in only a total of 18 games – in 2012-13 when his Ice Time was nearly as low as last season’s debacle.

The big key will be to see if Lupul was especially lucky in 2011-12 and/or 2012-13, and whether Semin was unlucky in 2013-14. That won’t supply us with a crystal ball for the future, but will give more meaning to their past data and, with that, provide a better sense of whether they might be able to rebound with better scoring outputs going forward if they’re able to receive a certain level of productive Ice Time.

 

Secondary Categories

 

Season

PIMs

(per game)

Hits

(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)

Shots

(per game)

PP Points

(per game)

2014-15

0.56 (A.S.)

0.47 (J.L.)

0.52 (A.S.)

1.42 (J.L.)

0.30 (A.S.)

0.36 (J.L.)

1.63 (A.S.)

1.76 (J.L.)

0.07 (A.S.)

0.05 (J.L.)

2013-14

0.64 (A.S.)

0.63 (J.L.)

0.34 (A.S.)

1.71 (J.L.)

0.46 (A.S.)

0.50 (J.L.)

3.23 (A.S.)

2.77 (J.L.)

0.18 (A.S.)

0.17 (J.L.)

2012-13

1.04 (A.S.)

0.75 (J.L.)

0.32 (A.S.)

1.93 (J.L.)

0.47 (A.S.)

0.43 (J.L.)

3.41 (A.S.)

2.62 (J.L.)

0.20 (A.S.)

0.18 (J.L.)

2011-12

0.72 (A.S.)

0.72 (J.L.)

0.40 (A.S.)

1.66 (J.L.)

0.24 (A.S.)

0.38 (J.L.)

2.37 (A.S.)

2.89 (J.L.)

0.14 (A.S.)

0.32 (J.L.)

 

I was surprised that both players posted subpar results in 2013-14 despite firing nearly as many Shots per game as when they had their best production among these four seasons. Maybe – and we’ll check this below – they were unlucky in at least one of their poorly performing seasons? Less surprising was that both have seen their PP output nosedive over the past two seasons. But in their partial defense, that can be a chicken and egg situation where if a player does poorly he loses PP Ice Time and/or gets stuck with lower quality PP linemates.

We also can see that Lupul’s Hits, which used to be quite good for a productive player, and Semin’s PIM, which were very respectable for someone who relies on a flashier style, have both dropped by a lot over the past two seasons. The measurable impact is decreased value in multi-cat leagues; but to me, it’s also consistent with another arguably as (if not more) serious issue in that both might be playing with less swagger – that is, without the “fire in their belly” which in turn not only has brought down their multi-cat output but their offensive production as well.

 

Luck-Based Metrics

Lupul’s 2012-13 IPP at 5×4 isn’t charted, as due to playing in only 18 games he didn’t meet the 50+ minutes at 5×4 threshold.

 

Season

Personal Shooting Percentage

PDO/SPSV (5×5)

IPP (5×5)

IPP (5×4)

Offensive Zone Starting % (5×5)

2014-15

6.5% (A.S.)

10.3% (J.L.)

968 (A.S.)

1014 (J.L.)

51.7% (A.S.)

50.0% (J.L.)

57.1% (A.S.)

50.0% (J.L.)

60.7% (A.S.)

40.2% (J.L.)

2013-14

10.5% (A.S.)

11.5% (J.L.)

1004 (A.S.)

1005 (J.L.)

61.9% (A.S.)

71.1% (J.L.)

63.6% (A.S.)

50.0% (J.L.)

58.9% (A.S.)

41.8% (J.L.)

2012-13

8.7% (A.S.)

26.2% (J.L.)

1049 (A.S.)

1101 (J.L.)

64.4% (A.S.)

77.8% (J.L.)

66.7% (A.S.)

N/A (J.L.)

57.6% (A.S.)

47.7% (J.L.)

2011-12

11.5% (A.S.)

13.1% (J.L.)

1011 (A.S.)

1000 (J.L.)

78.4% (A.S.)

70.9% (J.L.)

52.6% (A.S.)

82.6% (J.L.)

51.1% (A.S.)

55.5% (J.L.)

 

So much for the possibility that Lupul wasn’t unsustainable lucky in 2012-13 or that Semin might’ve been unlucky in 2013-14! Even looking past Lupul’s astronomical 1101 PDO for 2012-13, his 26.2% Personal Shooting % was more than double his career average (12.8%) and translated to five additional goals and thus 18 points in 16 games instead of 13. As for Semin, nearly all signs suggest he should’ve done just as well in 2013-14 as 2012-13, what with comparable IPPs and Personal Shooting %s each year, plus only a slightly higher OZ% in 2012-13. The big difference was his 1049 PDO for 2012-13, although that shouldn’t explain a drop from an 82 point pace in 2011-12 to a 53 point pace in 2013-14.

Perhaps the most concerning piece of data for Semin is that his struggles over the past two seasons have come as his OZ% actually increased, to the point where his 60.7% last season was tied for 31st highest among 356 forwards who skated 50+ games. Plus, the vast majority of his 2014-15 shifts were with one or both of Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner, according to Frozen Pool. Given all this, the fact he nevertheless did so poorly is deeply troubling.

On the flip side, Lupul’s OZ% has plummeted over the past two seasons, first to 41.8% (38th lowest among 302 forwards who skated in 60+ games for 2013-14), then to 40.2% (41st lowest among 356 forwards who skated in 50+ games during 2014-15). And this for a player who posted 85 points in 82 games from 2011-12 to 2013-14!

Certainly some of the blame for Lupul’s OZ% drop can be attributed to the struggles of the Maple Leafs as a team, although beyond that his OZ% ranked as the third lowest among the 12 Toronto forwards who played 50+ games last season. Next season could see a rebound, as even if Toronto continues to play poorly, several of the names who higher OZ% numbers are rumored to be on the move. And if Lupul himself is traded, then you figure the team who gets him – and his $5.25M salary – would be looking to put him back into the situation (i.e., 50%+ OZ%) that led to him producing at an elite level.

 

Value/Cost

Both players were LW and RW eligible in Yahoo leagues for 2014-15, with Lupul being drafted on average as the 36th LW and 39th RW, versus 31st and 36th for Semin. Of course neither one will be selected in anything close to the same stratosphere in 2015-16; however, the fact that they were so comparable at this point last year and arguably finished with equally disappointing seasons means they should have a similar perceived value going into 2015-16. And with that, their cost should also be in a similar ballpark.

 

Who Wins?

Lupul is the winner, as at least there’s some partial justification (i.e., very low OZ%) for his recent struggles, whereas there seems to be no defense for Semin’s terrible production, which at this point might be best surmised as him coasting along content to draw his large salary. If you have either player in a keeper league, then first and foremost you have my sympathies. But those who’ve kept them this long may as well continue to do so, and hope for some sort of turnaround. That being said, if your league is a limited keeper, you shouldn’t hesitate to keep other forwards over either of these guys. In other words, you can cut bait without regret.

For one year leagues, I wouldn’t think about drafting either player unless your league is deep enough to roster guys projected to score fewer than 50 points. But if 45 point forwards are in play, then I think Lupul, and perhaps even Semin, might be worth a flyer, since although either one might not even tally 40 points this season, there’s a chance that either one could recapture past magic and post 50+, or even 60. To me, that’s worth a pick over a third liner who’s a sure bet for 40 but all but guaranteed not to get 50, especially if your league has unlimited or many FA pick-ups, since if it becomes clear that Lupul or Semin are headed for another seasons as the fantasy equivalent of dead weight, then you can drop them for an upstart and not look back.

 

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