That's some deal

Dick Tarnstrom was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins Jan. 26 when GM Kevin Lowe sent Jani Rita...

Dick Tarnstrom was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins Jan. 26 when GM Kevin Lowe sent Jani Rita and Cory Cross to Steeltown. (Edmonton Sun/Perry Mah)

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

RALEIGH -- "You've been traded ..."

With one phone call, their careers changed and they went from the bottom of the pile to within one win of the very top of the heap with the Edmonton Oilers.

For Sergei Samsonov, Dick Tarnstrom and Jaroslav Spacek, all acquired by the Oilers this season, the ride to the top ended with a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final Monday.

A crushing disappointment to be sure, but only after an unlikely crack at all the marbles they never would have experienced had the Oilers not come calling.

CHANGE OF FORTUNE

"You can't imagine it. Absolutely not," said Tarnstrom, who packed his bags for Edmonton and bid farewell to the Pittsburgh Penguins Jan. 26 when GM Kevin Lowe sent Jani Rita and Cory Cross to Steeltown.

"It's a long process to get all the way to this point. It's been an unbelievable ride all the way."

Samsonov, 27, plucked from the Boston Bruins at the March 9 NHL trade deadline a day after the Oilers acquired stopper Dwayne Roloson from the Minnesota Wild, thought he'd be playing out the string in his eighth season with the sad-sack Bruins before his phone rang.

"You don't know until you get through it," said Samsonov, asked about joining the Oilers after spending his entire career in Boston. "You just don't know until you get past that first or second round.

"All of a sudden, you can see the end of the road and you can enjoy it. It's been a dream come true."

Spacek, 32, arrived from the Chicago Blackhawks Jan. 26 after Lowe gave up Tony Salmelainen to get him. With that move -- an hour or so after the Oilers got Tarnstrom from Pittsburgh -- Spacek went from being an also-ran in the Windy City to becoming a key cog with a Cup contender.

"I just wanted to make the playoffs," laughed Spacek, who averaged 26 minutes a night during the Oilers post-season run at the Cup.

"I've never even won a playoff game before, so this is special."

With 19 points in 31 regular season games with the Oilers and 14 more in the playoffs, Spacek exceeded expectations. Despite the disappointment of Game 7, he feels the same way about his new team.

"It's a great feeling," said Spacek, who, like Samsonov and Tarnstrom, will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. "Here, you win or you lose and that's it.

"I like it here. I like the city. I like the team. There's no doubt about it. It's been such a great run."

TARNSTROM IN WHEN IT MATTERED MOST

Tarnstrom, a healthy scratch for 11 of 12 games in a stretch against San Jose, Anaheim and Carolina, got back into the lineup in Game 3 against the Hurricanes.1

"It's a great bunch of guys. We've had fun together and we play hard for each other," Tarnstrom said.

"You want to play. You want to be a part of the group that makes it happen.

"It's a team. You don't win without all the guys and we have a helluva good morale on this team.

"Everybody contributes in their own way. That's been the key to our success."


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