January 31, 2012 10:38 AM
Now recovered from the upper-body injury that has sidelined him since Jan. 14, Jerome Samson is headed back to Charlotte.
The Hurricanes, who have a full allotment of forwards thanks to Riley Nash’s recall on Monday, reassigned Samson to the Checkers on Tuesday. Samson played three games during the recall, scoring his first NHL goal on Jan. 10.
Despite missing the Checkers’ last nine games, Samson still leads the team in goals with 15 and is its second-highest point scorer with 27 points in 37 games. He is also Charlotte’s leader in shots on goal with 160, having lost his league lead during his recall. He now ranks fourth in the AHL in that category, just 12 behind Hershey’s Chris Bourque.
Though they play different positions, Samson, a right wing, should help offset the loss of Nash on the team’s scorching power play. Samson still leads the team and ranks tied for ninth in the AHL with 8 power-play goals, just three off the league lead. The Checkers have recorded at least one power-play goal in each of their last eight games – all of them without Samson – to set a new team record.
Samson will join the Checkers for Wednesday’s practice in Charlotte and, barring any additional roster moves, should be with the team as it departs for a back-to-back, weekend set against Oklahoma City and Texas that begins Friday.
Nash, now on the second NHL recall of his career, is set for a prominent role as the Hurricanes return from the All-Star break for tonight's home game against the New York Islanders. At Tuesday's practice, he was reportedly centering a line with Jussi Jokinen and Jeff Skinner while seeing time on the first power-play unit with Skinner and Eric Staal.
"We're looking for a guy to jump into the top six, and he can play center and give Skinner more room to play offensively on the wing," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller told the media in Raleigh on Tuesday morning.
"He's got offensive skill and can score down there, and he's a smart player that uses people well. Because of that, I think he can find Jokinen and Skinner to make plays."
Muller said that the increased role for Nash, who played primarily on the fourth line during his two-game NHL debut just prior to Christmas, was designed to give him more of a test at the next level.
"I just think Nash eventually has the potential to stay in there consistently," said Muller. "If he's one of the guys in our system that can play here, then we should see if he can do it."