“For me, six times was a charm.”…These must be the words, courtesy of My Cousin Vinny, that were replaying in Sergei Samsonov’s head when he got the phone call from Jim Rutherford. It’s been quite the roller coaster ride for the once highly sought after, Samsonov. After his impressive rookie campaign, Samsonov followed up the next two years with consistent numbers, and then exploded onto the scene with 70+ points.
The 8th overall pick in 1997 was plagued by injury in the 02-03 season and then caught the injury bug for a good portion of the 03-04 season as well. If you remember, that was also the final year that Joe Thornton laced up the skates in Beantown. Since then Samsonov has been a shadow of his former self, having been relocated 5 times over the next 4 years.
The snooze fest that was the NHL trade deadline saw Sergei get dealt yet again to the Florida Panthers for Bryan Allen. Samsonov, flat out, just didn’t fit in Carolina. Only having amassed 26 points in 58 games, Samsonov finds himself on a offensively starved Panthers team that is bottom five in goals for per game.
Dale Tallon has, essentially, written off the Panthers chances having traded the likes of Chris Higgins, Radek Dvorak, Bryan McCabe, and Dennis Wideman for a slew of prospects and picks. Samsonov has, yet, another opportunity to prove he is more than just a one-hit wonder that we were accustomed to in Boston.
However, Samsonov was not the lone Russian to be dealt on the last day of February. Anton Khudobin was dealt to the Bruins for Jeff Penner and Mikko Lehtonen. Khudobin played surprisingly well in his couple stints on the big club in Minnesota, but with the acquisition of Joes Theodore this offseason, Khudobin was forced to sit in the minors waiting for the opportunity to get a call-up.
Instead of sitting in the minors in Minny’s AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, he will now be parked between the pipes for the Providence Bruins. With Tim Thomas having a Vezina-caliber season and young, hopeful rookie, Tuukka Rask, playing backup, Khudobin seems to be in the same position he was in while property of the Wild. With Samsonov and Khudobin getting traded, Zherdev getting waived, Frolov injured for the season, Ovechkin underperforming, it stands to reason that the Russians can’t catch a break.A