Canucks sign prospect Ludwig Blomstrand, then throw him to the Wolves
Notebook: Chris Higgins happy to move back to wing with Jordan Schroeder call-up
VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks are continuing to load up their American Hockey League farm team in Chicago with young prospects.
The latest player about to join the Wolves is Swedish forward Ludwig Blomstrand, who was Vancouver’s fourth-round pick (120th overall) in the 2011 National Hockey League draft.
Blomstrand was signed by the Canucks on Monday and watched Monday’s game at Rogers Arena with centre Kellan Lain, a free agent the Canucks signed out of Lake Superior State University on Saturday.
“He is a big strong winger who has got exceptional skating ability,” said assistant general manager Laurence Gilman, who scouted Blomstrand in Sweden during the recent NHL lockout.
“In fact, he may be the best pure skater we have in our prospects pool. And he has very good puck skills.”
Blomstrand, who just turned 20 earlier this month, played this season in the Allsevenkan, or Swedish second division. He started the season with Djurgardens, but was not getting much ice time and was traded to Almtuna. Blomstrand, who is 6-1 and 198 pounds, registered 13 goals and 19 points in 30 games with Almtuna.
“I saw him play his first game for Almtuna in November,” Gilman said. “You could tell he’s big and strong and he showed a willingness to take the puck to the net, which is what you want to see from a young player. He had a willingness to handle the puck in dangerous areas.”
Blomstrand and Lain are expected to join the Wolves later this week. Fellow prospect Nicklas Jensen recently joined Chicago after completing his season with AIK of the Swedish Elite League.
“As we do with most of the prospects that we sign we bring them in and get them acclimated, let them see our organization, let our strength and conditioning guys take a look at them,” Gilman said. “Once his visa gets resolved he’ll go to Chicago.”
BALLARD BACK: Defenceman Keith Ballard, who sat out the previous three games as a healthy scratch, returned to the Vancouver lineup on Monday.
Before the game, Ballard said he knows what he must do to stay in the lineup, but also suggested he has generally been satisfied with his play this season.
“Skate, move the puck, compete hard, play good in my own end,” Ballard said. “It’s pretty basic. You go through the lineup and it’s the same thing, everybody who moves their feet is a better player, everybody who moves the puck quick is a better player. It’s simple, it’s basic, but that’s what I try to do and I think I have done that for the most part this season.
“I’m not sitting here searching for my game and wondering where it went. I am pretty comfortable with how I have been playing for the majority of the season.”
Ballard also said he does not feel any extra pressure returning to the lineup after being scratched in five of Vancouver’s last eight games.
He also missed one of those games with a charley-horse injury.
“Like I said, I am comfortable with my game, I am comfortable with the contribution I can make and I’ll focus on that,” he said.
HIGGINS HAPPY: Jordan Schroeder is back with the Canucks and that was good news for Chris Higgins.
Schroeder’s return meant Higgins could return to his familiar left wing spot after filling in at centre.
“Making the switch mid-season is tough,” Higgins said before Monday’s game. “We have been playing a lot of games so there isn’t a lot of time to practise it. I would say I feel more comfortable on the wing and it helps my game for sure.”
INJURY UPDATE: Schroeder was recalled to fill in for the injured David Booth, who suffered a left ankle injury in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Schroeder had registered a goal and three assists in three games with Chicago since rejoining the team on March 11.
Coach Alain Vigneault did not have any update on Booth after Monday’s game-day skate, saying the winger was having tests done later in the day.
Winger Zack Kassian missed his second consecutive game with a bad back. Vigneault said Kassian remains “day-to-day.”
ICE CHIPS: The Canucks were not commenting on a report they are negotiating to buy the Peoria Rivermen AHL franchise and move it to Abbotsford. The Calgary Flames have been rumoured to be considering moving the Abbotsford Heat franchise to Utica, N.Y. ... Head athletic trainer Mike Burnstein was behind the bench for his 1,500th NHL game Monday. Burnstein is in his 18th season as the team’s head athletic trainer ... Markus Naslund’s Modo team avoided elimination Monday with a 5-4 overtime win over Farjestads in the first round of the Swedish Elite League playoffs. Modo trails the best-of-seven series 3-1.
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