Konstant raving

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

The Calgary Hitmen coaching staff wasn't sure what it was getting in Konstantin Pushkaryov.

But, so far, the coaches like what they see.

After working through some visa issues, Pushkaryov, 19, hit the ice for the first time yesterday with his new club.

The native of Kazakhstan, who was drafted by the L.A. Kings 44th overall in 2003, has been skating in the Russian super league.

The Kings, eager to get Pushkaryov more playing time than he would receive in Russia, inked the young right-winger and put him into the WHL import draft.

The Hitmen selected him in the second round and are eager to see what he can bring to the table.

"We mainly did some skill stuff today and battle drills, which he competed very hard at," said coach Dean Evason, who splits the duties with GM-coach Kelly Kisio.

"He looked real good. Fortunately, we have two Europeans now that want to be on our hockey club and we're excited to have them."

Slovakian Roman Tomanek, 18, was selected fourth overall by the Hitmen in this year's import draft and has already played in Calgary's first two games.

"Roman's been terrific," said Evason. "He's got a lot of skill, he scores goals and he's a greasy type of player. He's shown us in the first two games he has the ability to pay the price and score goals and we like that."

Evason currently has Pushkaryov manning the left side with Shaun Landolt and Brett O'Malley.

The coaching staff is trying to familiarize Pushkaryov with the offensive systems and anticipate him suiting up tomorrow against Lethbridge (7 p.m., 'Dome).

"We're going to discuss it and obviously we'd like to give him some more time but we'll see how he is (today) and we'll make that decision come game time," said Evason. "But there's no reason he shouldn't be in (tomorrow)."

As far as the team goes, Evason knows there's going to be an adjustment for Pushkaryov and his teammates.

"I think our guys understand the situation. If somebody makes your hockey club better, they're intelligent enough to understand that," explained Evason. "There'll be a period of adjustment for everybody. Whenever you bring somebody new into the mix, you have to shuffle not only your lines but your leadership roles as well.

Calgary is 0-1-1 on the season after two games against the Red Deer Rebels.


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