By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff
Former Bruins Alumni player Sergei Samsonov will be celebrating his 43rd birthday on October 27th. Sergei was drafted by the Bruins with the 8th pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. Sergei immediately impacted the Bruins in the ’97-’98 season when he scored 22 goals and 25 assists. Those rookie numbers helped Samsonov win the Calder Trophy and the NHL All-Rookie Team.
The electric left-winger went on to play seven more seasons for the Bruins before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers in 2006. Samsonov’s last five seasons in the NHL featured him playing on five different teams (Oilers, Hurricanes, Canadiens, Blackhawks, Panthers) before retiring in the 2011 offseason. In celebration of Samsonov’s 43rd birthday, let’s take a look back at the winger’s unique career.
Bruins Draft a Stud
Before even coming to the NHL, Samsonov represented Russia in ’96 and ’97 at the World Junior Hockey Championships, leading them to a Bronze Medal. Samsonov was a highly touted prospect as the next future star of international hockey as he wowed fans and scouts alike with his shifty turns and scoring prowess. Samsonov scored 110 goals in 50 games with the Red Army junior team in 1994–95.
Fast forward to the 1997 NHL Draft, and the Boston Bruins drafted Sergei Samsonov with the eighth overall pick. Uniquely enough, in that same draft, the Bruins drafted Joe Thornton with the first overall pick. Samsonov immediately impacted the Bruins his rookie year when he scored 22 goals and 25 assists. Those numbers helped Samsonov run away with the Calder Trophy and the NHL All-Rookie Team.
Three seasons later, Samsonov posted his best numbers as a Bruin, and as a result, Samsonov would represent the Bruins in the 2001 NHL All-Star Game. His final numbers at the end of the season were 29 goals and 46 assists for 75 points. Samsonov went on to play four more seasons in Boston before being traded to Edmonton in 2006.
The trade was made official on March 9th, 2006, when Boston shipped Samsonov to Edmonton for Marty Reasoner, Yan Stastny, and a 2nd round draft pick in 2006, which would turn out to be Milan Lucic. Playing eight seasons in the Black and Gold, Samsonov played 514 games, scored 164 goals, and picked up 212 assists.
Stanley Cup Run with Edmonton
In the final 19 games of the ’05-’06 NHL Season, Samsonov managed to score five goals and eleven assists while playing for Edmonton. Samsonov would also help Edmonton make the playoffs as the eighth seed. Don’t let the seeding fool you, though, because Edmonton would manage to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Unfortunately, Edmonton lost a heartbreaker in game seven, and Carolina hoisted the Cup. Nevertheless, it was still an impressive run for the Oilers as they would beat teams like Detroit, San Jose, and Anaheim. Although Samsonov helped Edmonton reach the Stanley Cup Finals while crediting for 15 points, the Oilers wouldn’t resign Samsonov. Instead, the Montreal Canadiens would pick up the left-winger.
Struggling to find his Rhythm
When Samsonov was signed by Montreal, they thought they were adding a winger that would help them make a deep playoff run. Unfortunately for Montreal, that wasn’t the case. His stay in Montreal proved to be a disaster, as Samsonov failed to retrieve the rhythm he had in Boston and ended the season with a meager 26 points in 63 games; Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau regularly scratched Samsonov off the lineup, and the Russian winger never managed to do anything well, even though he was given good linemates such as Alexei Kovalev.
In February 2007, Samsonov was placed on waivers but found no interested team. The Habs traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks in June of the same year for Jassen Cullimore and Tony Salmelainen. Unable to do much better in the Windy City, Samsonov was assigned to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs after clearing waivers. On January 8th, 2008, Samsonov was claimed off re-entry waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes.
Carolina signed Samsonov to a three-year $7.6 million contract. Although Samsonov struggled in Montreal ad Chicago, he showed signs of his youthful self with Carolina. In fact, in the four seasons he played in Carolina, Samsonov played 249 games, potted 54 goals, and added 81 assists. During a 2009 playoff run with Carolina, Samsonov would help them reach the Eastern Conference Finals before being swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins. In the ’09 playoffs, Samsonov scored five goals and three assists.
During the 2010-2011 NHL Season, despite having a decent year for Carolina, Carolina decided to part ways with Samsonov and traded him to the Florida Panthers for Bryan Allen. Samsonov would play the rest of the season with Florida and then announce his retirement in the 2011 offseason. So that was it; after playing 13 years in the NHL, Samsonov was hanging up the skates. Playing in 888 games, scoring 235 times, and assisting on 336 goals, Samsonov proved to be a difference-maker on the offensive side. On top of the stats, Samsonov showed to be a tremendous player for the Bruins when he won the Calder Trophy in ’97-’98 and made the All-Star team in 2001.
So Sergei, on behalf of myself and the entire BNG Hockey Organization, we hope you enjoy your 43rd birthday!