The Carolina Hurricanes have had their fair share of fan favorites through the years. Today, we take a look at a player with an interesting story.
The 1996-97 Boston Bruins were bad. Really bad; we’re talking 26 wins bad. As a result, they landed the first overall pick in the 1997 NHL Draft, a pick which was used to select Sault Ste. Marie center Joe Thornton. That, however, wasn’t Boston’s only opening round pick, and their next one had a direct tie to the Carolina Hurricanes organization.
Back on August 26, 1994, the Bruins shipped defenseman Glen Wesley to the Hartford Whalers in exchange for Hartford’s 1st round picks in 95, 96, and 97. The latter pick ended up in the number 8 spot and netted Russian winger Sergei Samsonov.
After an impressive draft year performance with the Detroit Vipers of the now-defunct IHL, Samsonov made the Bruins roster out of camp for the 1997-98 NHL season.
Sadly, trouble was on the horizon.
Following back-to-back 70+ point seasons, Samsonov suffered a wrist injury just 8 games into the 2002-03 season. The year was a wash for him, his problematic wrist keeping him out until the start of the following season. Worse was the fact that, while his stickhandling remained outstanding, his shot lacked much of the potency it had once possessed.
On March 9, 2006, Samsonov was traded to the Edmonton Oilers where he racked up 15 points in 24 playoff games for the Oilers before they fell in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you who they lost to.
On second thought:
Samsonov went on to have brief stints in Montreal and Chicago but struggled to get back to the production level he had shown earlier in his career. Then, in January of 2008, the Blackhawks placed him on waivers. Naturally, this seemed like the perfect reclamation project for then-Carolina GM Jim Rutherford, who scooped the diminutive winger up.
The move paid dividends immediately.
Samsonov slid right into the lineup and became an invaluable contributor, picking up 24 points in his first 27 games with the Hurricanes. When Rod Brind’Amour lost the final 23 games of the season to an injured ACL, Samsonov chipped in to fill the offensive void.
He was immediately welcomed by his new team and their fans, though they ultimately missed their goal of returning to the playoffs. Ironically, they were beat out by 2 points by the team that drafted Samsonov a decade prior.