SUN Hockey Pool

One that got away ... twice

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Craig MacTavish isn't surprised to hear Calgary fans wanted to see Sergei Samsonov in the Flames lineup.

"They want everything in Calgary," deadpanned the Edmonton Oilers head coach. "They want every big corporate move to be there and now Samsonov."

But the fascination Flames faithful have had for Samsonov dates further back than last month's trade deadline, at which the Oilers acquired him from the Boston Bruins.

In June 1997, hopes were high in the Stampede City the Flames would use the sixth overall pick to select the Muscovite who'd been a standout in the IHL. Instead, the club used that selection to claim the long-gone -- and forgettable -- Daniel Tkaczuk, handing the skilled Samsonov to the Bruins.

It's a decision most Flames fans lament to this day.

"Before the draft, they were the only team I had to meet twice," Samsonov recalled. "In the end, that's not what happened. But I don't think fans should blame them.

"It was obvious they were interested but at the draft you have no idea what to expect. You're 18 years old and waiting patiently for a team to call your name. You're excited to get drafted no matter who it is and, at the end of the day, it was Boston.

"I wasn't thinking 'Calgary's gonna draft me.' I had no idea what was gonna happen. You just want to get picked."

If that missed opportunity isn't enough, Samsonov has done his share of damage against the Flames over the years, netting 11 points (5-6-11) in 10 career meetings prior to last night's encounter.

His impact may not end there.

With the way he's lit it up as an Oiler -- a dozen points in his first 11 games -- Samsonov, due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, has become a catalyst for Edmonton's attack during what's become a frantic race for Western Conference playoff spots.

How much ability he possesses came through Thursday night during Edmonton's one-sided victory over Los Angeles, especially with his highlight-reel play.

Upon carrying the puck to the faceoff dot, Samsonov's stick broke. Instead of giving up on the play, he mule-kicked the puck to Jaroslav Spacek, who scored.

"When my stick broke, the puck just ended up being in my feet. I just figured I'd buy some time until somebody gets there," Samsonov said. "It just ended up being a funky play."

It was certainly proof he's rejuvenated after being traded from a Boston team going nowhere to an Edmonton side battling for a playoff berth, maybe even top spot in the Northwest Division.

"It's being more comfortable with everything," Samsonov explained. "I think it's natural when you're traded to not be sure how things will be and what to expect. But after playing a few games and getting to know the guys a bit, now it's a lot easier."


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