As the Edmonton Oilers continue to deal with players on injured reserve or in COVID protocol, they recalled on an emergency basis defensemen Philip Broberg and Dmitri Samorukov from the Bakersfield Condors on Boxing Day, ahead of their next scheduled game, Wednesday (Dec. 28) against the St. Louis Blues.
While Broberg made his NHL debut earlier this season, Samorukov’s next Oilers game will be his first. Edmonton fans have long anticipated the arrival of the Russian blueliner, who was selected 84th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft and shortly after signed a three-year Entry-Level Contract.
Samorukov would become the third defenceman this season to make his NHL debut with the Oilers after being recalled from Bakersfield, joining fellow Europeans Broberg and Markus Niemeläinen.
He’s 22, measures 6-foot-3, tips the scales at nearly 200 pounds, and hails from the southwestern Russian city of Volgograd. Here are seven other things to know about the newest addition to Edmonton’s backend.
He Comes from a Sporting Family
Samorukov’s father Andrei is a former soccer goalkeeper and current coach in Russia. Andrei played professionally for nearly twenty years and made back-to-back UEFA Cup appearances in 1994-95 and 1995-96 with Rotor Volgograd. He began coaching in 2006 immediately upon retirement and currently serves as goalkeeping coach with FC Kazanka Moscow of the Russian Professional Football League.
Dmitri’s brother grew up playing soccer in the Red Army system and their mother, Svetlana, was a diver. While Dmitri pursued hockey, he doesn’t lack for skilled feet. A video posted on Instagram in 2019 showed him effortlessly kicking a football from 40 yards through the uprights at Commonwealth Stadium, home of the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Elks.
He Had a Decorated Junior Career
Samorukov experienced tremendous success with both club and country during 2018-19, his final season playing junior. In January, he won bronze with Team Russia at the 2019 World Junior Championship in Vancouver. A few months later, he helped the Guelph Storm capture the Ontario Hockey League championship and advance to the Memorial Cup.
Over three seasons with the Storm, 2016-17 to 2018-19, Samorukov totalled 25 goals and 74 assists in 188 games. He led all defensemen in scoring with 10 goals and 18 assists in 24 games in the 2018 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) playoffs.
The Volgograd product also represented his country at the 2018 World Junior Championship and the World Under-18 Hockey Championship in both 2015 and 2016.
He’s Already an Experienced Pro
Samorukov has already spent parts of four seasons in professional hockey, having debuted in the American Hockey League at age 18 in 2017-18, when he appeared in five games with the Condors during 2017-18.
Samorukov spent the entire 2019-20 season in Bakersfield, then was loaned to CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) last season, before returning to North America.
He Learned English from Watching TV
In a 2020 interview on the KHL website, Samorukov discussed how he became so quickly fluent in English. At the time he arrived in Guelph in 2016, having just turned 17, he was the Storm’s only import player and “had 15 words in my head.” He worked for a bit with a tutor, got help from teammates, and tried to watch movies and TV shows in English. His favorite shows? Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Sherlock Holmes.
He Has a Blueshirt for a Brother-in-Law
Last year, Samorukov married the sister of New York Rangers prospect Vitali Kravtsov, a forward who was drafted 9th overall in 2018. Kravtsov made his NHL debut in 2020-21, notching four points in 20 games and is currently on loan to Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL.
Kravtsov and Samorukov were teammates on the Russian U20 team at World Juniors 2019 and spent the summer of 2020 practicing together before Kravstov joined the Rangers.
He Wears His Hometown Pride on His Sleeve
Samorukov has a tattoo on his right bicep of “The Motherland Calls”, a famous statue in Volgograd that is the centrepiece of the monument-ensemble “Heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad.” “The Motherland Calls” commemorates the sacrifices of Soviet soldiers during the Battle of Stalingrad in World War 2, and at 85 meters is the tallest statue of a woman in the world.
He’s Coming Back from Injury
Hopes for a big training camp and preseason from the Russian were derailed when Samorukov suffered a broken jaw in an exhibition game between the Oilers rookies and Flames rookies on Sept. 18.
He was expected to miss about six weeks and returned to action with the Condors on Oct. 27. He has appeared in 15 games for Bakersfield this season, recording a goal and two assists.
Now, four and a half years after the Oilers called his name in the third round of the 2017 draft, he could be mere hours away from playing his first game in Edmonton silks.
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Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings 2013-14 Memorial Cup championship season.