As the Hurricanes continue to weigh their own options and try to gauge those of Rod Brind’Amour and Ray Whitney, they will also consider the status of fellow veteran forward Sergei Samsonov.
The 31-year-old winger has one year remaining on the three-year pact he signed with the team in the summer of 2008, after which he will be an unrestricted free agent. He is scheduled to earn $2.8 million during the upcoming campaign, which could be viewed as too high for a player who saw his role diminished over the course of last season.
“We have to make a decision on whether he fits our team,” said Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford. “For a lot of last year he ended up being a fourth-line player, and based on where he fits into our pay scale it doesn’t make sense for him to play there. He’s a very good player and a skilled guy, but he may or may not fit into the direction we’re going.”
Samsonov posted a respectable 14 goals last year but did not top the 15-minute mark of ice time in any single game following the Olympic break. With a number of prospects vying to make the next step to the NHL roster, the Hurricanes make elect to go younger and cheaper.
That being said, finding an exit for Samsonov could prove to be difficult. If the team does decide to part ways with him, a trade or waiver claim would be the most favorable scenarios, depending on the timing. Rutherford would not rule out a buyout, although that would cost the team half of his salary over the next two years.
”All things are possible,” said Rutherford.
With the futures of Brind’Amour, Whitney and now Samsonov all uncertain – the GM did not have anything new to report on the former two - the Hurricanes could be looking at an even younger roster than anticipated for next season with more spots available for the taking at training camp.