Not too many Red Wings were in the lineup more in the 2013 playoffs than they were during the regular season. Mikael Samuelsson managed to pull it off, but as we’re about to examine, all that meant is that the team didn’t exactly get what they were hoping for after signing the veteran winger for his second stint in Detroit.
Looking Back at Mikael Samuelsson’s 2013:
It made a certain kind of sense to ink Samuelsson to a two-year, $6 million contract last summer, as the Wings were in need of secondary scoring since Jiri Hudler was about to take his 25 goals to Calgary. Unfortunately, they didn’t get any scoring or much else from the Swedish winger thanks to multiple bites from the injury bug.
Samuelsson was in the opening day lineup and recorded his lone regular season point the next game against Columbus. He pulled his groin in that contest, missed 12 games, then played a single game before breaking his finger in practice. That cost him 19 games, giving him just enough time to play once more before injuring a pectoral muscle and sitting out the (important) stretch run in April.
Oh, and he sounds like he’s going to need shoulder and/or pectoral surgery this offseason too.
In the playoffs, Samuelsson played most of the Anaheim series and even scored a goal in Game 5. Playing the point on the power play, he didn’t contribute much but at least was less dangerous in terms of allowing scary shorthanded rushes than Damien Brunner was in the same spot.
Looking Ahead to 2013-14:
For the time being, Samuelsson is the fourth-highest paid Red Wings forward, which seems silly with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. His contract also includes a full no trade clause, but since no one is going to be blowing up Ken Holland‘s phone trying to acquire him, that’s sort of a moot point.
So the question becomes whether the Wings should exercise one of their compliance buyouts on Samuelsson and cut their losses, or cross their fingers and hope he comes back healthy. The decision gets even tougher when you consider that cap room needs to be found to keep unrestricted free agents like Valtteri Filppula and Brunner in the fold, and a strong argument could be made that Drew Miller, another UFA, offers more of what the team needs than Samuelsson.
More than anything, though, it seems like Samuelsson is on the wrong side of a transition from the past to the future. The young, speedy third line that the team put together in the spring was a look at the direction the team is headed, one he might not fit into. Holland has said the amnesty buyouts are “at our disposal,” and it would be shocking if Samuelsson isn’t a candidate for one of them.
If he is back, the 36-year old is going to have to figure out a way to stay healthy and rewind the clock a few years. That’s pretty much the only way his second go-round as a Red Wing is going to have a happy ending.