Has there been a better reclamation project than Sergei Samsonov this season?
Last summer, Montreal dealt him for cap room, picking up two unwanted Blackhawks in the process and using a buyout on Jassen Cullimore. Samsonov was then horrible in Chicago, with no goals and four assists in 23 games on a team with a pretty decent, high-flying offence.
In early January, he was waived and then re-waived, finally being claimed by Carolina. About 10 other teams passed on the offer to take him at half his $3.5-million salary.
Two months later, Samsonov's a top-line contributer in Carolina, with 12 goals and 24 points in 27 games, only three of which have come on the power play. He's also plus-11 as a Hurricane.
Carolina's been red-hot lately despite missing some key personnel, and GM Jim Rutherford certainly deserves credit for massively retooling his roster midseason and assembling a cast that has nearly solidified a playoff spot. He shipped out soon-to-be-UFA veterans Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore and a promising youngster in Andrew Ladd around the trade deadline, and his team's gone 10-2-1 since the first deal and 5-1 since the second.
They're 16-10-1 since acquiring Samsonov, which in the Southeast Division this season is more than competitive.
Hard to believe.