RALEIGH, N.C. - Sergei Samsonov joined the Carolina Hurricanes and immediately produced like he hadn't in years. No wonder he wasn't about to leave after only part of a season in their forward-friendly system.
The mid-season waiver-wire pickup who blossomed as the right wing on Carolina's second line signed a US$7.6-million, three-year contract Wednesday to remain with the Hurricanes.
"From Day 1, I felt welcome and have been getting a great opportunity. I felt like it's a very good fit for me, personally, and I'm glad things worked out," Samsonov said. "It's nice to get a long-term contract with a team that wants you."
The announcement came roughly a week after Samsonov expressed a strong desire to return and general manager Jim Rutherford said re-signing the 1998 Calder Trophy winner was his top priority of the off-season. The 10-year NHL veteran would have been an unrestricted free agent July 1.
"It was very fast, and I think both parties felt that it was mutual, that I wanted to stay and I felt like the organization wanted me to stay as well," Samsonov said. "You put those two together, and normally, the deal's done pretty easily."
He will make $2.3 million next season, $2.5 million in 2009-10 and $2.8 million in 2010-11. He made $3.5 million last season, but the Hurricanes were responsible for only $800,000 of that when they claimed him Jan. 8 after Chicago waived him.
"We were very excited about Sergei's play after he arrived in Carolina," Rutherford said. "It was important to the success of our team going forward that we keep him here."
Almost immediately, Samsonov flourished in Peter Laviolette's free-flowing offensive system while sliding onto Rod Brind'Amour's line. He finished with 14 goals and 18 assists in 38 games - his best substantial point-per-game numbers since 2001-02, when he had 70 points in 74 games with Boston - while showing the form that once made him the league's top rookie with the Bruins.
"Sometimes you go to a team and you struggle, and sometimes it fits right away," Samsonov said. "You just never know what's going to happen, and I'm glad things turned out pretty good. I was struggling for the most part the last two years. Then, I got to Carolina and you just want - not that you don't believe in yourself anymore - but you want to make sure you that you do well if you get the opportunity to play."