Most Hurricanes fans are familiar with Jerome Samson. He's been a regular with the team's AHL club for five years, which dates back to the time when their affiliate was in Albany. He has gotten to play 46 games with the Hurricanes over the last three years and finally tallied his first NHL goal this past season, which might be a surprise when you look at his AHL numbers over the years. The 24-year-old Quebec native has been one of the Checkers top scorers ever since he joined the club and is a very important player there. In the NHL, however, he hasn't quite made his mark and has only been dependend on for short periods of time.
Why hasn't Samson been able to stick in the NHL? It could be a number of reasons. He fits into the mold where he thrives when given top-six minutes but has been a tweener in the NHL because he hasn't been able to adjust being in a checking role. Then again, you can argue that he hasn't been given much of a chance to succeed with the Hurricanes because he was playing only 6-8 minutes a game before this season. Another thing is that Samson has put up strong underlying numbers in the small 46 sample of games he's played with the Canes so it's not like he hasn't been making the most of those minutes. He was actually somewhat impressive at times while playing on Eric Staal's line during his call-up stint this year and it wasn't a surprise to see him finally get on the score sheet now that he was given decent linemates.
Samson is pretty old in terms of prospects (he turns 25 in September), so what we see from him in the next couple years is probably what we're going to get for the rest of his career, and I'm not sure if he'll be in the NHL or with the Hurricanes when he's at his peak. Carolina has too many third liners currently at their disposal and unless Samson emerges as a top-six talent during training camp or the pre-season, it's unlikely that he will be with the Canes aside from emergency call-ups and whatnot.
With that being said, I really like Samson and think that he has a future in the NHL. The reason I say this is because he has been a terrific possession player at the AHL and a solid goal-scorer on top of that. He had 223 shots on goal in only 57 games with the Checkers and managed to score 20 goals for the fifth straight season despite spending a portion of the year in Charlotte. He might have trouble adjusting to playing against NHL talent but I think he will eventually find a home in the NHL even if it is not with the Hurricanes. Give him solid linemates and reasonably soft minutes and he could succeed. That seems to be how things work out for a lot of AHL stars who make their NHL debuts in their mid-20's.
I talked about Samson's future with the club a few months ago and determined that he would probably become an NHL-er with another club but the Canes decided to qualify him after this off-season, so he will get another shot here but I think he ends up staying on the Checkers when all is said and done. He could surprise some people when he gets his shot in the NHL but I don't know if he will get that opportunity next season unless a lot of injuries happen or he really stands out amongst the other forwards. I will be pulling for him, regardless.