REGINA — Regina Pats defenceman Brandon Davidson is taking the good with the bad.
“It’s really frustrating missing the playoffs but then again I’m getting a good opportunity (to continue the season at the pro level),” offered Davidson, who left Monday to join the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons. “I’m real excited and real anxious to go up there and prove myself. I’ve been waiting for that next step for a little bit now. Now I finally get that chance. It’s good for me to see where I’m at as a player.”
Davidson was assigned to Oklahoma by the Edmonton Oilers, who selected him in the sixth round of the 2010 NHL entry draft. Davidson will join the Barons on a pro tryout agreement, with an eye towards earning a full contract in the near future.
“I just want to make the best of it and learn and develop,” said the 6-foot-2, 194-pounder. “Who knows? If I do well there . . . maybe there’s a contract for me. That’s kind of what I’m hoping for.”
One way or another, Davidson’s situation will have a significant impact on the Pats, who desperately need their No. 1 defenceman to return next season for his 20-year-old campaign. Players who’ve been drafted by NHL clubs often graduate to the pro ranks at age 20, but Davidson’s situation is somewhat unique. He has just two seasons of WHL service under his belt and, since he wasn’t drafted until age 18, the Oilers retain his rights until the summer of 2012.
That said, there’s nothing stopping them from signing him sooner.
“I do understand I still have another year to wait but I want to get it done quicker,” said Davidson. “I do feel like I am ready to make that next step. When I go up there, hopefully I get a shot to play. I might be able to turn some heads and maybe move things along a little quicker than expected.”
That said, Davidson is open to the prospect of having to revert to Plan B.
“That’s always a possibility,” he said of returning to the Pats. “If that happens, so be it. Another year in this league wouldn’t be the worst decision if it came down to it. There is some unfinished business with missing the playoffs. It would mean a lot to this team and to this city if we could get in the playoffs and make something happen. I’d love to come back. We’re still going to have a really young team next year and we’re going to need some good leadership and guidance. I think I’m the right guy to do it. I’d love to come back and be a good leader and be a big part of this team.”
Playoffs aside, Davidson has accomplished a great deal in a short period of time with the Pats. Regarded as one of the top all-around defencemen in the Eastern Conference, he finished among the league leaders with 51 points in 72 games. He also added 71 penalty minutes and a minus-five rating (best among Regina’s blueliners on a poor defensive team).
“The first year in the league went by the slowest but this year everything whipped by real fast,” Davidson added. “You listen to the 20-year-olds and they always say how fast it goes by. You never believe it and now, boom, the season is over.”