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Samsonov to Stay?

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes

With his consistently strong play since being claimed from Chicago, Sergei Samsonov unquestionably made good on the second chance to continue his NHL career that the Hurricanes gave him in early January.

The question now is where his rejuvenated career will continue.

Samsonov, 29, will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.  If the Canes don’t resign him by that point he’ll hit the open market, and after scoring 32 points in his 38 games since being claimed off re-entry waivers by Carolina, it’s not unreasonable to think that another team will make him a good offer.

Following his exit interview with General Manager Jim Rutherford on Tuesday, however, Samsonov indicated that might not be his preference.  After fitting in so well with the Hurricanes after failed stints in Montreal and Chicago over the last two seasons which culminated in a minor league assignment before being waived, it seems he might be happy to stay right where he is.

”It’s been a bumpy ride for the last couple of years and it’s nice to feel comfortable again,” he said.  “I like it here, it’s been a great fit and we’ll see what happens.  I’d definitely like to stay here.”

The dynamic Russian winger last became an unrestricted free agent after his Edmonton Oilers lost to the Hurricanes in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals.  He signed with Montreal that summer – a decision that didn’t work out especially well for either party.  He scored just 26 points in 63 games with the Canadiens before being shipped off to Chicago for spare parts in the offseason.

Now at the end of his two-year contract, Samsonov, the team’s most high-profile unrestricted player, suggested he may take a different approach this time around.

“You have to put everything in perspective I guess but in the end you’re trying to make a decision what’s best for your career,” he said.  “Money sometimes doesn’t necessarily make it happen.”

If Samsonov were to come back to Carolina, that might give the Hurricanes one forward too many in their top nine. 

With a completely healthy lineup (such a thing actually does exist, believe it or not), Samsonov’s return would mean that someone like Patrick Eaves or Tuomo Ruutu would have to play on the fourth line, which wouldn’t be ideal given their talents and the stages of their development.  The Canes would then likely have to create room another way.

They might be willing to do that if they can bring Samsonov back at a reasonable price, which based on his comments Tuesday and throughout his time in Carolina, seems entirely possible.

”I think guys enjoy playing with each other and it seems like this is a tight group of guys, and this is one of the first things I noticed when I got here,” he said.  “I think it goes a long way.”
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