Vancouver Canucks’ draft pick Viktor Persson practised with the Kamloops Blazers for the first time on Monday, Oct. 4.
The overage Swedish import was selected by Kamloops in the 2020 CHL Import Draft, but the COVID-19 pandemic kept him from making the move to Canada for the 2021 season.
Persson took part in Canucks’ training camp and was assigned to Kamloops on Sunday.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Blazers’ head coach Shaun Clouston said. “We feel like we’ve known him for a while.
“We’ve been on a couple dozen zoom meetings throughout the last year and a half, so it’s just nice to have him on the team.”
Persson is adjusting to the smaller North American ice surface.
“Everything is smaller,” Persson said. “It happens quicker. You’ve got to be ready for everything like one second earlier.”
The Blazers’ home opener is slated for Saturday, Oct. 9, when the Prince George Cougars come to town. Game time is 7 p.m. at Sandman Centre.
Clouston said he expects on Saturday to pair Persson with 17-year-old Mats Lindgren, the NHL Draft prospect who grew up in Sweden and speaks Swedish.
“He has a well-rounded game,” Clouston said of Persson. “Great skater. He’s strong. He has some maturity. When we picked him up from the airport, he talked about how he’s getting used to playing on the big ice sheet.
“It’s going to be an adjustment, but he’s an intelligent hockey player and I’m sure he’ll adjust quickly.”
Six Blazers participated in NHL training camps. Defenceman Quinn Schmiemann is the only one who has not yet been reassigned to the WHL club.
The Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday sent Schmiemann to their American Hockey League affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Clouston said he expects Schmiemann to be gone for at least another week or two, but the timeline for his return is malleable.
“It’s on a day-to-day basis,” Clouston said. “We’ll have to wait.”