Sergei shock

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

After eight seasons with a franchise that's now dismantled a team loaded with potential before hitting the wall in the first round of the 2004 playoffs, Sergei Samsonov joins an organization intent on building something.

Once the shock of being traded to the Edmonton Oilers by the Boston Bruins yesterday subsides, Samsonov might come to appreciate the difference between the two.

Perhaps enough that, despite the assumption he's nothing more than a rental because he'll be an unrestricted free agent July 1, Samsonov might be willing to stick around longer than 19 games.

Samsonov's agent, Neil Abbott, says he's willing to leave the door open on that possibility. Maybe Samsonov will be just as willing - once he's had more than a few hours to digest the trade and pack to meet the Oilers in Columbus.

Give it time, Sammy.

"Like any trade, I guess it's a bit of a shock," Samsonov said from his home in Boston. "Then again, I've heard my name in rumours all year long. I kind of had a feeling I'd be gone by the deadline.

"I've never been traded in my life, so it's definitely something new for me. But I'm excited to come to Edmonton. I look forward to it."

With not one word having been spoken with GM Mike O'Connell about a new contract and Joe Thornton already shipped to San Jose, Samsonov figured he was headed somewhere.

GETTING HIS HEAD AROUND IT

Yesterday, Samsonov, who is married and has a two-year-old daughter - she cried for the entire interview, which doesn't necessarily reflect the views of her father - was trying to get his head around moving on.

"I spent my whole career there and I always said I'd like to stay in Boston," he said. "Management wanted to go in a different direction.

"When you first get traded, you have to deal with it. On the bright side, I'm going to go to a team that's in the playoffs and wants to go far. I hope I can contribute to that."

With O'Connell taking apart a team that had 41 wins and 104 points in 2003-04, the prolific, often-fragile Samsonov didn't fit whatever plans the Bruins have. Kevin Lowe? That's another matter.

"Between the public comments of the team and even from the owner's standpoint the last month, it looked very much like they were moving in a different direction," seconds Abbott.

"The 2003-04 team, for the most part, has been dismantled.

"There was no indication they were trying to keep him. I would have been more surprised if he'd not been traded.

"We never made a trade request. We never closed the door. We were always open to discussion on a contract. There never was. Their reasons? I can't tell you.

"We accept it. We'll go on and see where it leads."

While Samsonov will command a lot of interest this summer, Abbott suggests it's not a given Oilers fans will get only 19 regular games out of his client.

"Sergei is a young player with a future ahead of him and this is a fresh start," said Abbott, who represents former Oiler Mariusz Czerkawski.

"Edmonton is a good hockey town. He'll work very had and I'm sure the fans will appreciate him."

Here Samsonov has a chance to be part of a team with a bright future.

"It's very early in the process, obviously," Abbott said of the possibility of re-upping with the Oilers. "But I'll just say in a general sense no doors are closed whatsoever in that regard.

"I know Kevin and I know the organization. We're not coming in with any kind of constraints."

FEEL AT HOME?

First things first, however. For now, Samsonov is thinking about the stretch drive. Chances are, though, it won't take the gifted dynamo too long to feel at home.

"I've heard from a lot of people that they have a great group of guys in Edmonton," Samsonov said.

"I'm definitely open to anything. When I get to free agency I'll look at all 30 teams, but I've heard Edmonton is a great hockey city. First and foremost, I'd like to help this team make the playoffs."


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