The Prince Albert Raiders made a deal for a ready-made European forward Monday, one day before the Canadian Hockey League import draft.
The Raiders acquired 19-year-old Danish centre Sebastian Svendsen, and a third-round pick in the 2011 WHL bantam draft, from the Edmonton Oil Kings in exchange for 20-year-old centre Jordan Hickmott.
Svendsen, five-foot-10 and 180 pounds, split this past season between the Oil Kings and Vancouver Giants, who selected him in the second round of last year's import draft.
The Raiders believe his year of WHL experience makes Svendsen worthy of filling one of Prince Albert's two import spots next season.
"We're just hoping that, as a 19-year-old player, he's got the European first-year blues out of the way," said Raiders coach and general manager Bruno Campese.
"He'll come in and feel comfortable in the league. He speaks perfect English. We were looking for a mature player (for whom) the transition is quick. It's not unrealistic to think that he could be close to a 50-point guy here."
Svendsen is a year younger than Hickmott, a 49-point man last winter who was caught in Prince Albert's crowded group of potential overagers for next season.
Campese and Raiders player-personnel director Dale Derkatch watched Svendsen break through with Edmonton after Christmas, and they previously saw him with Vancouver when they were scouting goaltender Jamie Tucker, a mid-season acquisition from the Giants.
"He's about the same size as (Raiders centre) Ryan Harrison," Campese said of Svendsen. "He's not a real big kid, but he's stocky. He skates extremely well. He's tenacious. He works extremely hard.
"He's very cognizant defensively, and when he did get to Edmonton and given more of an opportunity offensively, he put up decent numbers. He had 14 points in 28 games with Edmonton after Jan. 10. We think he's a player that can come in and help us."
Campese envisions Svendsen progressing in similar fashion to Raiders incumbent European forward Igor Revenko, one of five overagers still in contention for the team's three 20-year-old berths.
As a rookie, Revenko went from two points at Christmastime to 29 on the season. He followed up with a 55-point performance this past season.
"We think this kid (Svendsen) may have that same ability," Campese said.
"He's been in Edmonton for 28 games, so he understands the Eastern Conference a bit. He's a real good character kid. No one could tell me anything negative about the kid. He's a hard worker. Everybody enjoyed having him on their teams. We're excited to have him and we think he'll fit in OK here."
Revenko remains a candidate for the Raiders for next season, during which he would fill overage and European spots.
"I just talked to him on the weekend," Campese said of Revenko, a Belarusian. "He's really considering coming back, and we want him back."
As of late Monday afternoon, the Raiders were fielding offers from other WHL teams for the 16th overall pick in today's import draft. Prince Albert is scheduled to make its first-round selection at 10 a.m.
"We may pick," Campese said. "At this point, Igor doesn't count towards our Euros, because he's a 20-year-old."
After making the deal for Svendsen, the Raiders relinquished their second-round pick in today's draft.
Last winter, one of their import spots was filled by defenceman Stefan Warg, who has returned home to Sweden to play pro hockey. The Anaheim Ducks' draft pick came to Prince Albert from the Seattle Thunderbirds in January, a few weeks after the Raiders cut Swedish forward Fredrik Cedergren.
Hickmott emotional after trade to Edmonton
A trade might be easier to digest the second time around, but Jordan Hickmott can attest that it can still be painful.
The 20-year-old centre was on his way to his construction job Monday morning when he learned that the Prince Albert Raiders had traded him to the Edmonton Oil Kings.
“It’s tough and stuff right now, because I had a lot of guys I was pretty close with on P.A.,” Hickmott said Monday night from his Mission, B.C., home.
“It’s a small town, so all the guys on the team were really close. I really enjoyed it, because it was just you and your teammates there, pretty much. I’m going to miss that. I’m sure that the (Oil Kings) are a close group, too, but it’s going to suck leaving my friends in P.A.”
One day before the Canadian Hockey League import draft, the Raiders sent Hickmott to Edmonton in exchange for 19-year-old centre Sebastian Svendsen and a third-round pick in the 2011 WHL bantam draft.
The Raiders had picked up Hickmott two years earlier in a deal with the Medicine Hat Tigers on the day of the 2008 import draft.
“The first time was more of a surprise,” Hickmott said of his trade reaction. “This time wasn’t as shocking. I knew they were going to have to do something with all of us (overagers), anyway.
“It wasn’t a huge shock, but I really like P.A. I like the team. I like the organization. So, it really was disappointing, but at the same time, it’s not the end of the world, because I knew something was going to happen. It’s going to have to happen to two more guys, too.”
The Raiders still have five players in contention for the team’s three overage berths next season — forwards Colin Reddin and Igor Revenko, and defencemen Nathan Deck, Jordan Rowley and Brendon Wall.
The quality of the overagers, including Hickmott, left the Raiders with difficult decisions, said coach-GM Bruno Campese.
“Unfortunately, you can only keep three of them,” Campese said. “We like ’em all. I’d like to keep ’em all, and we can’t. We know that our 20s are valuable. They’re good citizens.
“Jordan is a perfect example of a player that really had a good year (this past season). We ended up getting up a third-round pick and Svendsen. So, from our standpoint, we know that Edmonton is getting a quality kid and we know that we’ve done OK, getting a third-round pick and a player in return.”
Hickmott is coming off a career year, during which he scored 21 goals and 49 points in 72 games. Most of his production was in the first half of the season, before the Raiders stumbled down the stretch.
Other teams in the WHL expressed interest in Hickmott, who has four years of major junior experience.
“There was lots of interest in Jordan Hickmott,” Campese said. “Like I say, he’s a good kid. We’d have absolutely zero problems bringing Jordan back. We’ve just got some quality 20-year-olds.
At some point, we were going to have to make a decision. And when Edmonton made their offer to us, we seriously considered it (and made the deal).”
Hickmott spoke with Campese and Edmonton GM Bob Green on Monday, and he received several text messages from ex-teammates who wished him well.
He wasn’t immediately sure about his plans for his overage season.
“I’ve been giving it some thought,” said Hickmott, six-foot-one and 185 pounds. “I haven’t totally made up my mind 100 per cent, one way or the other. This definitely changes things. Obviously, before, I was going to P.A. Now, I’m going to Edmonton.”
He’s already familiar with a couple of Oil Kings. He played summer hockey with defenceman Adrian Van de Mosselaer and played against Mike Piluso in minor hockey. Van de Mosselaer and Piluso are also entering their 20-year-old seasons.
The Oil Kings recently named Derek Laxdal as their new head coach. He succeeds Steve Pleau, who was fired after the season.