Who could forget the story behind Sergei Samsonov in 2007-08? After an atrocious start with the Chicago Blackhawks which saw him goal-less in his first 23 games, the Hurricanes picked the winger up on waivers and the Russian promptly went on a scoring tear, knocking in 14 goals and chipping in a total of 32 points in his final 38 games. He also played solid two-way hockey and finished with a +6 in Carolina after being -7 with the Hawks.
The smooth as silk skater has always been a streaky player, and last season was no different. He started out a bit slowly, only to pick up steam later in the year during the playoff push. (good timing?). He had a very good playoffs, (especially against Boston), and scored five goals along with three assists in 17 post season games. (He was injured and missed one contest).
#14 / Left Wing / Carolina Hurricanes
Oct 27, 1978
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Samsonov was originally drafted by Boston and won rookie of the year honors back in 1997-98. After several years in Beantown, he was traded to Edmonton before the 2006 trade deadline and was an integral part of the Oilers run to the Stanley Cup Finals. During that offseason, he signed a contract with the Montreal Canadiens and things went sour for awhile. The impatient Habs sent him packing to Chicago after just one disappointing season, and the Hawks placed him on waivers, just 23 games after acquiring him.
But Jim Rutherford knows that patience is indeed a virtue, especially with streaky players. If you give Samsonov enough time, he is skilled enough to produce. Hopefully, he will find his scoring touch earlier in the season next year.
The Good- There is no one better in the league at skating and puckhandling than Sergei Samsonov. He can shuck and jive and skate circles around anyone, plus carry the puck on a string while he does it. He's an unselfish player who is a good playmaker and passer, and he has a decent shot. Samsonov was very good in the playoffs and seems to pick up his game when the pressure is on. Perhaps most importantly, he's happy in Carolina. When the player is happy, you can expect positive things from him. Last but not least, win or lose, it can be a joy just to watch him skate.
The Bad- Did I mention that he can be a streaky player? Sometimes the scoreless streaks can be long. The consistent complaint about Samsonov has been that he holds onto the puck too long while trying to set up a play. Most experts say that he needs to shoot more. While he usually tries hard, his defensive play can be suspect. (-8 this season). He is one of several Carolina forwards who brings little physical contact with his game.
The Money- Samsonov still has two years remaining on his original three year deal he signed last offseason. He will earn a reasonable 2.5 million next year and 2.8 million in 2010-11.
Here are the results of our previous exit polls. (Jussi Jokinen came very close to earning an A, but ended up with a B from the majority).
Anton Babchuk - B
Jussi Jokinen - B
Chad LaRose - A
Matt Cullen - B
Eric Staal - B
Rod Brind'Amour - C
Ryan Bayda - B
Niclas Wallin - C