The Peterborough Petes received great news last week, it was learned that defenceman Lukas Krajicek was being returned by the Florida Panthers. The somewhat surprising news couldn’t have come at a better time for the Petes, as they were struggling on the powerplay.
Krajicek will provide the much neede power-play quarterback that the Petes were lacking. The new addition bolsters the maroon and white’s biggest weakness, as they couldn’t seem to find a reliable puck moving defenceman among their other top six. Krajicek will now be in the upper echelon of OHL defencemen, and should have offensive numbers that will be in the same range as other star blueliners such as Windsor’s Tim Gleason, Sault Ste. Marie’s Trevor Daley, and, should he return from Washington, the Rangers Steve Eminger. Krajicek made an offensive impact in his first game, scoring a goal and adding two assists as the Petes beat Sault Ste. Marie 3-2.
This season will be different than last for Krajicek. When he was returned early in the 01-02 season, he had a very hard time adjusting to the OHL, and his play was spotty for much of the season. This year, he has a more positive attitude, and should enjoy a great season.
With Krajicek in the fold, playing time will be hard to come by for other Petes rearguards. Lukas will likely play 25-30 minutes a game, and with Ryan Card and Adam Elzinga rounding out the top 3, there will be 4 players battling for the final three spots.
Mark Flood and Aaron Dawson are locks to play, which means Trevor Hendrikx and Bryan Hamm may find themseleves in a similar situation as they faced last year, when they were alternatley healthy scratches. This will not likely sit well with either, as they are both now in their second season. One of the two will have to step up and assume the spot as number six defenceman for good, unless a trade is worked out.
Despite the potential problems for Hendrikx and Hamm, Krajicek’s return is all positives for the Petes. Their powerplay will be much more potent, as they will have Eric Staal, Jamie Tardif, Greg Chambers and Lukas Krajicek as four of the mainstays on the top power-play unit, and those four rival any team in the league’s powerplay.
From watching the team, it is obvious that what was needed was a good, veteran puck moving defenceman to feed crisp passes to the likes of Staal, Chambers and Tardif. With Lukas Krajicek returning for his third season, and bringing NHL experience with him, the Petes have gotten just that.