Hurricanes Crystal Ball: Cory Stillman or Sergei Samsonov?

Robert McGeeSenior Writer IFebruary 17, 2008

There has been a lot of talk recently among fans concerning the play of Sergei Samsonov.

His skating and puck handling are world class. His forechecking seems relentless. He has a good eye for the net and has outstanding passing and shooting skills.

In addition to all of these qualities, he seems to like it here.

So should Jim Rutherford sign him up for next year?

Even before Cory Stillman was traded, many fans were wondering about his situation for the next season. Would he give the Hurricanes a “home team discount” to stay in the area? Will Rutherford try to sign Cory again during the offseason even though he was traded?

There is one little problem about signing either of these players for next year. There is no room for them. If you take a look at the Canes Country Salary Chart, Carolina already has seven top-line forwards signed for next season not to mention that Matt Cullen is still under contract.

Patrick Eaves and Andrew Ladd are restricted free agents who need to be re-signed. They are both top nine forwards; they will not be signed to play on the 4th line. So where do Stillman and Samsonov fit?

Jim Rutherford informed the news and Observer last week that the team felt Brandon Sutter was ready for the NHL next year. Let’s pencil him as the 4th line center.

If you keep Keith Aucoin,Chad LaRose, or Wade Brookbank, suddenly you have a full roster, as far as forwards are concerned. The only way that there is room for either Samsonov or Stillman is if you trade another forward.

My suggestion?

Trade Erik Cole and his $4 million dollar salary for a decent defenseman of equal caliber. Sign Samsonov to a contract for between $2 to $3 million to replace him. Unfortunately, take a pass on Cory Stillman.

This is what the forward lines could look like next year:

  • Staal-Ladd-Whitney
  • Brind’Amour-Williams-Samsonov
  • Cullen-Walker-Eaves
  • Sutter-Brookbank-LaRose

If they keep Cole, then plug his name in there instead of Samsonov’s. There is always a chance the Canes could trade either Eaves or Ladd in order to keep Samsonov but both players are younger, cheaper options who will probably be retained.

I realize that we have all summer to discuss next season’s roster, but with the trade deadline looming, these types of issues are things that most general managers are looking at right now.

If you could only keep one player, which one would you choose? Would you keep Erik Cole for another year at $4 million, or would you try to sign Sergei Samsonov or Cory Stillman, or someone else to a cheaper contract?

I will put out a new poll asking the question and we will see how it turns out.