MENU

pats add depth

rThe Regina Pats were forced to adjust on the fly during Tuesday's CHL import draft.

r

Having previously traded their first-round pick (13th overall) to the Vancouver Giants, the Pats weren't slated to make a selection until the second round (73rd overall). When it looked like most of the players on their wish list would be gone by that time, GM Chad Lang swung a deal to move up, acquiring the 46th pick from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a sixth-round bantam selection in 2012.

r

From that spot, Regina chose Swedish defenceman Ricard Blidstrand, who was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the seventh round (206th overall) of the 2010 NHL entry draft. In Central Scouting's final pre-draft rankings, he was rated 53rd out of 150 eligible skaters from Europe.

r

"We were looking at the guys we had identified and weren't 100-per-cent sure if we stayed pat that we'd be able to get one of those guys," explained Lang. "When the opportunity arose to move up we thought it was right. It allowed us to grab Ricard. He was a player we wanted."

r

The addition of Blidstrand — combined with returning left-winger Hampus Gustafsson — gives Regina a pair of Swedish imports for the first time in franchise history. The Pats had originally been looking to secure another forward in the draft, but their plans changed due to a combination of factors, not the least of which was Blidstrand's availability.

r

"At the end of the day we said we wanted to take the best player available at the spot we were picking," continued Lang. "We had some players identified and they went earlier in the draft. We still felt there were a couple guys there who we could have selected but with the reports we were getting we thought there was more of an upside with this kid. And the fact that he's a '92-born birthday and a left(-shooting) defenceman, I just think he fits a void that we were lacking on our depth chart."

r

The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder is regarded as a solid two-way performer. He recorded two goals and eight points in 33 games last season with AIK of the Swedish junior league.

r

"We knew he was a big kid that moved pretty well," said Lang. "He's not an offensive guy. He's just a steady guy who can move the puck. We wanted to get some size on the back end and needed someone who could make the transition and step in and play. The more we researched him and the more information we got on him, it kept getting more positive and he just kept moving up. He knows Gustafsson so that should help with the transition. Once he comes over and understands the North American game, there's tremendous upside with this kid. That's the big thing we were looking for."

r

Lang talked to Blidstrand and his agent after making the selection on Tuesday. The GM came away feeling good about the prospects for getting his new defenceman across the pond.

r

"Until you see the whites of their eyes there's a chance they may not be here," added Lang. "But the reports and the conversations we've had with the agent have all been positive. I talked to him and everything seemed fine. I think he was as excited as the player to get him here."

r

By Greg Harder

r

© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post

More News
PREVIEW: Pats end Alberta road trip in Calgary
7 mins ago
3:14
Highlights Nov. 27: Pats 2 | Rebels 4
6 hours ago
RECAP: Rebels Snap Pats 3-Game Winning Streak
9 hours ago
PREVIEW: Pats aim for fourth straight win
23 hours ago
WHL Top 10 - November 26, 2021
2 days ago
2:57
Highlights Nov. 24: Pats 3 | Hurricanes 2 (OT)
3 days ago