Last season, one of my favorite call-ups from Charlotte was Jerome Samson. He didn't score a goal in the 23 games he played in, but he was effective at getting shots on goal and creating scoring chances. I felt that he would be effective in a depth role and would eventually get on the scoresheet if he continued to do the same things he did last year. Samson didn't make the team out of camp and wasn't called up until mid-January but he made an immediate impact by scoring his first NHL goal in his season debut against the Philadelphia Flyers. After that game, Samson struggled to stay in the lineup and was sent down for good in early-March. I was a little disappointed but not entirely surprised because it is hard to keep a guy in the lineup if he's getting top-six minutes but can't score.
The reason why I liked Samson so much last season is because he showed the ability to be effective offensively even if the wasn't scoring, and this team desperately needed forwards who could drive the play. Samson wasn't nearly as good in that department this season and that coupled with his inability to produce points made it tough for him to stay in the NHL. At the AHL level, Samson is a pure goal scorer and a very effective offensive player but he has still yet to translate that into NHL success and at 24, it is tough to say that he will ever turn into a goal-scorer at this level.
I think that Samson has a future in the NHL but he seems to work best as a depth forward or a third-liner because he can at least be someone who can help drive puck possession and create energy. Unfortunately, I don't think he will make it in the NHL on the Hurricanes because what they need is a goal-scoring winger. This team has enough players similar to him and he could end up being an odd-man out this off-season if he can't find his scoring touch. He was actually given top-six minutes in Carolina this season but didn't produce much with them and Kirk Muller wasn't going to keep him on the team to be a fourth liner. That isn't going to work for Samson or Charlotte so he was better off finishing the year in Charlotte.
Sixteen games isn't the best sample size to go by, but we're going to take a closer look at the year that was for Samson and see how he might have been less effective at driving the play than his strong corsi relative rating suggests.
Jerome Samson 2011-12 Scoring Chances
Average TOI: 12:16
Even Strength Chance% Fwd Rank: 11/18
Even Strength Chance Diff/60 Fwd Rank: 11/18
Qualcomp Ranking (min. 10 games): 6/16
OZ Start%: 55.3%
Unlike last season, Samson was given top-nine minutes when he was with the Hurricanes. Muller liked to put the more offensive-minded guys from Charlotte in a position they could succeed in, which is what he did with Samson. He was used a lot in the offensive zone but drifted between the first and second lines while playing with the Hurricanes. Muller actually gave Samson some quality linemates to work with as he spent a significant amount of time on Eric Staal's line. On the Hurricanes, it doesn't get much better than that if you want to be in a position to succeed. He did spent his last couple games on the fourth line, though.
Scoring Chances by Season Segment
|Game #||TCF||TCA||SCF||SCA||Segment%||Team %|
TCF = Total scoring chances for, TCA = Total scoring chances against, SCF = Scoring chances for during segment, SCA = Scoring chances against during segment, Segment% = Even strength scoring chance percentage during segment, Team% = Hurricanes even strength chance percentage during segment
Season Segment Line Graph
Click graph to enlarge
Samson actually played very well during his first few games of his call-up stint and it looked like he could possibly stick around on this team for longer than some thought. This was over the span of only five games, though. Once Samson began to play more regularly, his performance began to drop. You can see that he was much less effective at creating and preventing chances as time went on, and it resulted in him being sent back to the AHL. I'm still a fan of Samson but it's understandable why he was sent down because he wasn't scoring and his ability to produce offense went down as he played more games. It was hard to keep using him in the top-six since his leash is shorter than others. I do think that it's too early to make any final judgements on him, though. Sixteen games is a very, very small sample size.
Not much to say here. Samson regularly played in the top-six and failed to end up above 50% despite playing on Staal's line. Staal's numbers show that he was better playing with linemates other than Samson, too. There isn't enough data here to make conclusions about anything, but it's interesting to see that Samson had some small success with Drayson Bowman and Justin Faulk.