After spending two seasons in the New York Islanders system, Russian defenseman Andrey Pedan was traded to the Vancouver Canucks, where recently he had his first NHL games, pretty much like his countrymate Nikita Tryamkin. In this translated interview, originally appearing on the Russian website championat.ru, Canucks defenseman Andrey Pedan talked about his first games in the NHL, the trade to the Canucks, and his first steps in hockey.
* For the original championat.ru article by Alexander Govorov, click here.
– During the recent game against the Colorado Avalanche at one point you had three shots on goal and it was the top for the Canucks. Were you really focused on the opposition crease?
– I didn’t even know that I had that many shots. I didn’t count them, frankly speaking. I simply had some good chances for a good shot and it would have been bad not to try and use them. At first I was a bit nervous [about playing in the NHL], but then I understood that there is nothing supernatural if compared to the AHL. The main difference is that here [in the NHL] players know their role, their positioning, and they know where and when to go. In the AHL it’s a bit different, because not all the players know what to do. That said, in every league you can find good players.
– Watching the game I had the impression that the whole team was a little nervous, not only you and Nikita Tryamkin. Even the team’s leaders had their fair share of mistakes. Why?
– There are no infallible players. Each player has a given percentage of mistakes, it’s impossible not to make mistakes. The important thing is not to repeat the same mistakes again and again. What I told Nikita before the game? Nothing special, simply not to be too nervous, and try to play well.
– What were your emotions after your NHL debut? It wasn’t long ago either.
– The interesting part was that I debuted as a forward (laughs). I couldn’t sleep that day before the game. I was very nervous before the game, but then I managed to get quieter pretty fast. I also didn’t have a lot of ice time, therefore I could rest. My first game as a defenseman was good. I could play physically in some moments, and I think it was good. If you don’t like getting hit, you didn’t choose the right sport (laughs).
– Was it hard to sleep after your first NHL game? After all it was the dream of a lifetime!
– I can’t say that the emotions where super. Maybe the thing is that I played as a forward, and this had its weight. Of course I was very happy, but the team lost, so emotions weren’t that positive.
– When were you told that you’re going to play in the NHL?
– The day before the game they told me that, and I got on a plane for Vancouver right away. I was in Utica when I have been told that they wanted me to play for the big team and I really hasted there. I had my morning skate, and I played the same night. The flight went well, we only had one stop in Chicago. I wasn’t alone, my teammate Brendan Gaunce was with me on the plane, it wasn’t boring, we talked a lot and time passed quite fast.
– You talk a good English. Did you help Tryamkin a lot with translations?
– I don’t have any problem with English, I even started forgetting Russian. Of course I do help Nikita a lot with it. On paper Nikita and I are on the same defensive pair, so we can say that there is a Russian defensive pair, but during the game lines are always changing and veterans get more ice time.
– Did people know Tryamkin before?
– No, they did not. But I also didn’t know him, I only seen that he was drafted by Vancouver when I read that they signed him on Twitter. I am very glad to have met him!
– It was your third call-up to the NHL. Is it time to get used to it or do you think you still need time to adapt?
– I am used to everything now. I can say that I feel myself at home, even more so if we consider that I know many Canucks players for long time. They are good guys, it’s easy to talk with them. Of course, at each call-up it’s easier and easier.
– You were drafted by the New York Islanders first. What can you tell us about the trade to Vancouver?
– In the second seasons after the draft I wasn’t playing for them and I talked with my agent about the situation. Vancouver was interested in me, they organized a trade and I became a Canuck. In the AHL I had time to improve and get adapted, the coaches helped me a lot. Getting here was great. I’m very happy now. Vancouver and the Islanders is like day and night. And Vancouver is a beautiful city, especially on summers.
– You were born in Lithuania. How did you end up in Russia?
– My father served in the army there, and he met my mother. I was one year old when we moved to Moscow, where I grow up. I played for the Soviet Wings there, my first coach was Konstantin Smirnov who, unfortunately, passed away. When I was a bit older I moved to Dynamo Moscow. And when I was 17 I crossed the Ocean and started playing for the Guelph Storm [of the OHL].
– Probably you know very well Latvian forward Ronalds Kenins, as you played together both in Utica and in Vancouver.
– Yes, we know very well each other. He played many games for the Canucks last year, but this year he picked up three or four injuries, spent some conditioning time in the AHL, then he got injured again. It wasn’t a good season for him.