It's easy for New York Islanders fans to have high hopes for Andrey Pedan because his profile and background would make for too cool of a story if he succeeded: Twenty years after the Lithuanian Darius Kasparaitis burst on the scene and wowed fans with his rough play, puzzling English, and neutering of a , here comes the Lithuanian Pedan to make his own pro debut. star
After another good year in his final OHL season as Guelph's top defenseman, Pedan did make his pro debut with eight games on an ATO with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He saw a little bit of very role (and picked up two assists) in that trial, and mostly stayed out of the box.
His huge PIM totals with Guelph -- 140+ in each of the last two seasons -- have that aspect on our radar, but he took only one minor in eight AHL games and even found his way into his first pro fight.
As Pedan had himself some highlights in the OHL he was clearly ready for the next test.
Pedan's assessment of his ATO orientation as told to Michael Fornabaio is a familiar one for players at this stage:
"It was a great time, a great experience, to meet a lot of the guys, my new teammates. I tried to get better every day. … I need to get bigger and stronger, make quicker decisions on the ice, first-pass."
At 6'4 and over 200 pounds -- and looking to get "bigger and stronger," of course -- Pedan is one of a bushel of larger blueline prospects in the Islanders pipeline.
He has the size, the reach and the snarl to be a real pain in the Crosby at the NHL level; now it's just a matter of if he can pick up the finer defensive points of the pro game.
With his pro career just eight games old, that puts him behind the Sound Tigers and Islanders regulars on our Top 25 Islanders under 25 countdown. (A year ago he just missed the cut, but some graduations and Euro departures made room for him to get back on.) A good rookie season in 2013-14 would surely move him up for next time.
Here's how our panel voted this spring:
A sampling of comments as we voted:
Another big body on the blueline with a ton of potential. Like Donovan, the penalty minutes worry me as to how effective he can be as a top 4 without getting himself in trouble all the time.
He appears to be a bruiser who can still put up some points. He's improved every year in +/-.
The Kasparaitis comparisons are perhaps forced, and we shouldn't bring it up every time we talk about Pedan. And yet the role is indeed similar and Pedan might even end up with a frame better able to withstand the rigors of being a minute-munching physical nuisance.
To be continued next fall in Bridgeport.