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Prodigious Pedan packs a punch; Physical defenceman eager to prove he can do more than just throw haymakers
24 марта 2016 года. Ziemer, Brad. The Vancouver Sun
If rookie defenceman Andrey Pedan was looking to make a good first impression at the Canucks' fall training camp, he failed miserably.
Vancouver head coach Willie Desjardins quickly soured on the young Russian and dispatched him to Utica, N.Y. Three months later, Pedan is back and his coach is beginning to like what he sees.
"I think he has come a long way since camp," Desjardins said Tuesday. "I didn't think he had a great camp. I wasn't really happy with him. I didn't think his attitude was what I wanted in camp, but maybe it was a little bit of a misread on my part.
"He has come back, his attitude has been good, he has been good in the American (Hockey) League and he has taken big strides. He went from a guy that we were worried about to a guy we think can fit in and play down the road."
Pedan, all 6-5, 215 pounds of him, played his third NHL game Monday and got into his first big-league fight. He outduelled tough Los Angeles Kings winger Jordan Nolan in a first-period scrap.
Pedan is hoping to show the Canucks he can do more than fight. He has good wheels for a guy his size and possesses a better-than-average shot.
"I don't want to be known as a fighter," Pedan said after Tuesday's practice. "I just want to play a solid game, be tough to play against and that's about it. I don't want to be known as the top fighter in the league or anything like that.
"I have all the tools, I think. I am big. I can skate. I think I just need to work on my D zone and changing angles fast. I think I will be fine."
Pedan made his NHL debut on Dec. 1, when he dressed as a forward for the Canucks in Los Angeles. He played just 3:54.
"I had never played a game as a forward in my life," Pedan said with a chuckle Tuesday.
He finally got to play in his regular spot as a defenceman the past two home games against the Oilers and Kings and did not look out of place.
"I played pretty good," Pedan said. "I threw my body around and didn't really take myself out of position. I feel pretty good with myself."
While his fight with Nolan was his first NHL tilt, Pedan has had a couple of minor-league scraps that generated lots of YouTube traffic.
Last January, he knocked out Jarred Tinordi, then with the Hamilton Bulldogs, with a devastating right hand.
"I mean, it can go both ways," he said of the Tinordi fight. "It just happened to go that way. It is nothing special - just another fight and it just happened to be a big punch, I guess."
Pedan knows about it going the other way. Three months after that fight with Tinordi, Pedan was rocked several times by the Iowa Wild's Stu Bickell and suffered a concussion that effectively ended his season with the Utica Comets.
Pedan, 22, is a native of Lithuania who grew up in Moscow. He played three seasons of junior hockey with the Guelph Storm of the OHL.
He describes his decision to come to Canada to play junior hockey this way: "I like to play physical game and I think it is better for me to play on short rink."
The New York Islanders selected him early in the third round of the 2011 draft (63rd overall) but traded him to the Canucks last season. He said the change of scenery has helped.
"When I came to Vancouver, they gave me everything I could ask for," he said. "I played a lot of minutes in Utica. I developed. I feel more comfortable with the puck and think I have progressed that way."
He credited Utica head coach Travis Green and assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner with helping his development.
"Travis Green, if I make a mistake, he teaches me," he said. "It's not like you make a mistake, he puts you on bench and forgets about you. He always tries to help you."
Pedan keeps in close contact with his parents, who are currently vacationing in the Dominican Republic.
"I have been texting and calling them every day. My dad is always asking what I am doing, how am I feeling, what did the coach say, what did you guys do on the ice. He is really excited. If I knew sooner that I would play, my dad for sure would be here."
Pedan is here because of injuries to defencemen Dan Hamhuis, Luca Sbisa and Chris Tanev. He does not know how long this NHL stint will last, but it has definitely whet his appetite for more.
He said all of the Canucks' veteran players have gone out of their way to make him feel welcome.
"Burrows was really nice to me, the Sedins, Sbisa, Tanev, all those guys," he said. "I felt when I got called up I would be on my own, shy and not know what to say, but the guys (made me feel) comfortable right off the bat."