Joslin, Samson get their opportunities

calexander@newsobserver.comFebruary 17, 2012 

— That Jerome Samson may play right wing tonight on the Carolina Hurricanes' top line with Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty isn't that surprising.

But Derek Joslin, at right wing on the fourth line?

Joslin is a defenseman. Asked Thursday when he last played forward in a game, he smiled and said, "When I was about 12 or 13, and I was a centerman."

But such is the case for the Hurricanes (21-25-11), a team in some flux as it deals with injuries to forwards Tuomo Ruutu and Chad LaRose with the NHL trade deadline fast approaching.

The past few days have taken Samson from Peoria, Ill., to Montreal, to Raleigh, to Charlotte and back to Raleigh.

Samson was traveling with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL when the call came Sunday that he was being recalled by the Canes. He made his way from Peoria to Montreal, playing Monday against the Canadiens at the Bell Centre in front of family and friends from nearby Greenfield Park, Quebec.

"It was fun because they don't get to see me play often," Samson said.

Returning with the Canes to Raleigh, he drove a rental car to Charlotte on Tuesday to pick up his truck and some clothes, only to be told to stay, that he had been reassigned to the Checkers. But after practice Wednesday with the Checkers, he was informed he was an emergency recall for Ruutu.

"We have a lifestyle that can really turn on a dime," Samson said. "I drove to Charlotte thinking I would just grab a few things, and just on a phone call everything turned around. Less than 24 hours later, it all turns around again.

"But I'm back where I want to be. Obviously, it's a good opportunity and I have to step in and make the most of it."

Rewarding effort

Samson was on Jeff Skinner's line with winger Jussi Jokinen in the 5-3 win over the Canadiens. But Canes coach Kirk Muller may have him at right wing with Staal and Tlusty for tonight's home game against the San Jose Sharks.

Staal had two goals and an assist against the Habs and is playing his best hockey of the season, producing 19 points in the past 24 games. Tlusty has a five-game point streak (three goals, two assists), his longest of the season.

"Samson is the kind of guy who can get in there and grind it out and make plays," Muller said. "He's hard on the puck and in the corners. I think he's a guy who can get in there and play with those guys."

Muller said he had no qualms about using Joslin as a winger with Tim Brent and Anthony Stewart, adding, "It's a versatile role we might have to use him in." Joslin, 24, has filled in as a forward in practice when needed.

There are forwards in Charlotte with NHL experience, including Zac Dalpe and Zach Boychuk. But Muller said the decision was made to get Joslin, a healthy scratch the past five games, some ice time and not recall anyone from the Checkers to replace LaRose, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

"To just bring a young kid up and just plop him in ... if he doesn't deserve it, then he doesn't deserve it," Muller said. "I'd rather put a kid in like Joslin who's worked hard every day. He's kept his mouth shut, he's worked hard every day and been professional. He can play defense, if we need him."

More playing time

The NHL trade deadline is Feb. 27 and it's possible the Canes may look to trade defensemen Bryan Allen and Jaroslav Spacek, both due to become unrestricted free agents after the season. Playing the wing, or as a seventh defenseman, will allow Joslin to get some game action.

And Joslin wants in tonight. He was a member of the Sharks organization for five years until being traded by San Jose to the Canes almost a year ago to the day.

"I think they think I need to get back in there and get back in the game," Joslin said of Muller and the staff. "If it's on wing, I'll play wing. I'll play wherever they need me. I have a big body and along with Anthony Stewart I think we can create some things down low and take the puck to the net."

Joslin paused and smiled, saying, "You never know. Could bang home a couple."

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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