Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov both broke into the National Hockey League in 1997 after being drafted by the Boston Bruins. They once made up a very formidable duo with the Bruins, before Boston traded Thornton to the San Jose Sharks for a package that included Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau back in 2005.
Shortly after that, Samsonov was also sent packing, only he was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers for Marty Reasoner, Yan Stastny and a draft pick that did lead to the Bruins selecting one of their current best players in Milan Lucic.
Aside from the draft pick that netted them Lucic, neither deal will go down as one of Boston’s best. So while the Bruins had drafted two great players in a stellar draft class that also produced Olli Jokinen, Patrick Marleau and Roberto Luongo, they did not hold onto either as long as people felt they would, dealing them both away and breaking up solid chemistry between two players who entered the league together.
Now, 15 years after being drafted together, and over seven years since playing alongside each other, could we see Thornton and Samsonov reunited, only this time, with the Sharks?
Thornton has led the Sharks for the past seven seasons, but has been unable to get them to the Stanley Cup Finals. Samsonov has not played in the NHL for over a year, but is gearing up for a return once the regular season begins. Could he be a natural fit in San Jose?
This is not the same sort of comeback that many other players are attempting after being away from the NHL for a year or longer. Samsonov is still just 33-years-old, and could bolster a nearly anemic power play with the Sharks. And, according to sources around Thornton, the San Jose captain would certainly endorse his current team signing his former teammate.
“I’ve been friends with Sergei, we got drafted in the same year in Boston and we’ve had a great relationship. I still send him a text here and there and he sends me one, so yeah, we still have a relationship,” Thornton said. “He’s a very skilled guy, and doesn’t shy away from physical play. He’s a very, very solid player, and if he comes to camp here it would be great for us.”
If signed by San Jose, Samsonov would not play on the same line as Thornton. At least, not in the beginning. He would serve more as a third or fourth line player who could attack the net on the power play for the Sharks. He would most likely come quite cheap, whereas the team would have very little to lose by signing him.
While a few teams have expressed an interest in bringing in Samsonov for a workout to see what he has left, no scenario would be a better fit than the one with him joining his former teammate and fellow first round pick in Thornton with the Sharks.
After all, they both enjoyed some of their greatest seasons while playing together once already.