Alexei Semenov was a big hope on the Edmonton Oilers' blue line.
He was part of the future. He was going to form a Twin Towers tandem with Chris Pronger.
Semenov is now out of the picture. Although he'd played in only half of the Oilers' 11 games, Semenov was caught by surprise when he got the call to pack his bags and head to the Florida Panthers.
"I had my best three hockey years here. I was really happy I was here,"said Semenov who was dealt for a conditional pick in the 2006 Entry Draft. "I was progressing every year. I felt like I could play well for a long time, but it didn't happen.
"I was working hard every practice and every game that I had and was trying to get better.
"I wasn't thinking about any kind of move. I was happy to be out there. I tried to do my best."
GM Kevin Lowe wouldn't admit that Semenov had become a failed venture. In fact, he suggested the Panthers might be getting a defenceman still in the process of blossoming, but the Oilers simply wanted to work more with emerging prospects like Danny Syvret and Matt Greene and didn't see any reason in holding onto a once-blue-chipper.
"I'm not disappointed. Some guys crack it and other guys don't and you've got to move on," said Lowe. "He was a good kid and we hung in there with him, but clearly the way some of the younger guys have played, and the kind of minutes (Chris) Pronger, Gator (Jason Smith), (Steve) Staios and Bergie (Marc-Andre Bergeron) eat up there was no room for him."
The deal also saves the Oilers around $700,000 in salary-cap space.
"In this day and age of cap management, you want to keep your eyes on all parts of managing the club. This is a move that gives us some flexibility down the road."
Semenov played 46 games in 2002-03 and 03-04. In his 11 games this season, Semenov had a goal and one assist and plus/minus of minus 3, but of gravest concern to the coaching staff seemed to Semenov's reluctance to play the physical side of the game despite his six-foot-six, 235-pound stature.
The Russian-born rearguard admitted to feeling the Oilers had given up on him too soon.
"I just want to get some ice time and play every game," said the Oilers' second-round pick (36th overall) in the 1999 draft.
"I have another chance going down to Florida and I hope everything goes well for me."