What is a journeyman? In British English a journeyman is described as a player who has represented many different clubs or teams throughout his career. Beginning his hockey career in his home country of Sweden, Mikael Samuelsson spent a total of 10 seasons with Sweden junior hockey team Södertälje SK and Nyköpings Hockey. After playing well in Sweden, the up and coming hockey player decided it was finally time to test his skills in the National Hockey League.
Samuelsson was drafted in the 5th round of the 1998 draft by the San Jose Sharks. Despite being drafted by a NHL team, Samuelsson returned to Sweden for an extra two years. Samuelsson spent the 1998-1999 season with Frolunda HC. The following season he returned to play for Södertälje SK. After finishing up his career in Sweden, Samuelsson came to North America to play hockey in the NHL. However before he was given his opportunity to play for the Sharks he was signed to the Kentucky Thoroughblades, the AHL affiliate for the Sharks. During his time with the Thoroughblades Samuelsson dominated, scoring 78 points in 66 games. He was also called up on two different occasions throughout the season, playing in four games with the Sharks however he failed to record a point.
After a hot start to his professional career in the states, Samuelsson was traded to the New York Rangers, along with teammate Christian Gosselin in exchange for forward Adam Graves. Samuelsson again began the season in the AHL however this time it was with the Hartford Wolfpack, New Yorks affiliate. After scoring nine points in just eight games, Mikael earned the call up to play for the Rangers. After recording 16 points in his rookie season, Samuelsson re-signed with New York during the offseason. After making the opening day roster and spending most of the season with the Rangers, Samuelsson was traded yet again in an eight player deal which sent him to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Spending the rest of the season in Pittsburgh, Samuelsson was only able to accumilate 2 points in 22 games, Samuelsson was traded for the third time in just three years to the Florida Panthers with draft picks in exchange for the Panthers 1st pick in the draft which went on to be star goaltender Marc-Andre Fluery and a third round pick. After missing a majority of the season due to multiple injuries, Samuelsson only was able to participate in37, scoring a meager 9 points. After the season ended, Samuelsson failed to receive a qualifying offer, making him a free agent.
As it became clear to everyone that there wasn’t going to be a season in 04-05, Samuelsson decided to sign with the Genève-Servette HC. Appearing in only 12 games for the club, Samuelsson made his return to Södertälje SK. Samuelsson scored 20 points in 29 games with Södertälje, helping them secure the final spot in the playoffs.
With the NHL returning, Samuelsson was contacted by Håkan Andersson, a Director for European Scouts for the Detroit Red Wings. After talks with the Red Wings, Samuelsson went on to sign a one year deal with the team. After signing with Detroit, Samuelsson resurrected his career scoring 45 points, at that time a career high. After an impressive season with the Wings, Samuelsson was rewarded with a brand new contract that would keep him in Detroit for the next three years. Samuelsson continued his strong play throughout the season however he broke his foot causing him to miss 18 games. Returning just in time for the playoffs, he accounted for 11 points in the 18 games that he played in. The 2007-2008 season might have been his best season as a professional. Despite a slight decrease in points, Samuelsson helped the Red Wings win the 2008 Stanley Cup. The next season was just as successful. Despite not winning another cup, Samuelsson scored over 40 points for the second straight season for the first time in his career.
After the 08-09 season Samuelsson’s contract had expired. Instead of resigning with the Wings, Samuelsson went on to play for his fifth different team in just nine years, the Vancouver Canucks. Continuing to improve his stats, Samuelsson scored a career high 30 goals. Not only did he earn a career high in goals, he also achieved a career high in points during the season, scoring 53. The following season Samuelsson proved himself to the entire league scoring 50 points again during the season. However during the second round of the playoffs against Nashville he went down with an injury that required surgery. With Samuelsson down and out for the playoffs, Vancouver went on to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to the Boston Bruins in seven games. With two 40 point seasons and back to back 50 point seasons and an expiring contract, Samuelsson was proving that he can play hockey at a consistent basis.
After recovering from his injury, Samuelsson spent the beginning of the season with the 2011-2012 season with the Canucks. However about a month into the season he was traded with fellow forward Marco Sturm in exchange for David Booth, Steven Reinprecht and a third round pick to the Florida Panthers. This was the fourth time he was traded in his 12 year career. Returning to South Florida, Samuelsson was hoping for a better go around this time, however Samuelsson began his second run with the Panthers just as he began his first one. Samuelsson was forced to miss 20 games while recovering from a groin injury. Even though he has seen a decrease in his numbers, Samuelsson has brought a special trait to the team, leadership. Scoring 31 points this season, Samuelsson has been used as another veteran piece to help balance out the youth and experience. With the Panthers needing just a point in their previous game to clinch their first division title, Samuelsson played huge, scoring one goal and recording 2 assist, in the Panthers 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Samuelsson is just one of the players on the team with Stanley Cup Playoff and Stanley Cup Finals experience. The Panthers are looking for him to go back to his days as a Red Wing where he helped the team win the Cup as the Panthers enter the playoffs as the underdog team despite being the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
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