We continue our series where Canucks Army will profile various players of interest leading up to the new season.
While he was never ever able to really break out and get consistent minutes with the Detroit Red Wings, given their glut of talent on the top 2 lines, Samuelsson had a break-out season with the Vancouver Canucks, as the team’s second-highest goal scorer. One of the main reasons why GM Mike Gillis was keen on bringing Samuelsson to Vancouver was his playoff experience. That move paid off in spades, as Samuelsson was the Canucks’ leading scorer in the playoffs last year with 15 points in 12 games.
The native of Mariefred, Sweden was a 5th round draft pick of the San Jose Sharks. He played only 4 games for the Sharks, before he was traded to the New York Rangers, in a deal that saw Adam Graves go to California. Two years later, he was a part of a large trade deadline deal that sent him to PIttsburgh. That same off-season, he was again traded. This time, he was bound for MIami to play a year for the Panthers. After the NHL lockout, Samuelsson became a free agent and was then signed by the Detroit Red Wings, where he played four very solid seasons. After failing to renegotiate a deal in Detroit, he again became a free agent last summer, and signed with the Canucks. His current contract pays him $2.5 million for two more years.
Counting Stats: 30g-23a-53pts
Corsi: +14.75/60 (2nd on team – minimum 30 GP)
Giveaways: 42 (HIghest amongst all Canucks forwards)
Penalties Taken/60: 1.2 (2nd on team)
Regular linemates: Kesler, Raymond
Mikael Samuelsson was arguably the most pleasant surprise in the Canucks lineup last season. Many expected him to have an improved season over those he had in Detroit. However, it is safe to say that very few people expected him to score 30 goals and to lead the Canucks in playoff points. With Alex Burrows out of the roster (shoulder surgery) to start the season, Samuelsson will likely move up to the top line with the Sedins. In that role, Samuelsson should flourish and pick up the scoring slack and more. With his time on the top line and on the power play, we should expect another season of close to 30 goals and 30 assists. Where he needs to adjust his game is on giveaways and penalties. He led all Canucks forwards in giveaways last season and subsequently took the second-most penalties (per 60 minutes played) of any forwards. It makes sense – you turn over the puck, you take a penalty to either retaliate or to recuperate the puck. If he can cut down on his turnovers, he’ll very likely take less penalties. For a team that ranked in the bottom 5 in penalty minutes per game, cutting out penalty minutes is a great thing.
Samuelsson clearly came to Vancouver for time on the top 2 lines, and not for the money. Barring disaster or injury, he should once again be full value for his $2.5M paycheque, and spending the first month with the Sedins will only mean good things, as the Three Kings of the Tre Kroner look to tear up the league to start the season.