Fritsche could be lost if NHL returns

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

The London Knights have taken a bit of a risk in trading for centre Danny Fritsche.

Columbus Blue Jackets president-GM Doug MacLean told The Free Press during the world junior championship that if there is an abbreviated NHL season, Fritsche will be called up.

The 19-year-old Fritsche was Columbus's second-round pick in the 2003 draft. He played 19 games in the NHL last season before being returned to the OHL's Sarnia Sting.

"I'm sure (Knights GM) Mark Hunter has done his homework and is aware of that possibility," Blue Jackets director of scouting Don Boyd said last night from his home in Lambeth.

MacLean had planned to take in the Knights-Kitchener Rangers game Thursday at the John Labatt Centre. Now he has an even greater interest in the game.

Boyd said the trade is a good one for Fritsche since Sarnia may miss the playoffs. "Danny gets a chance to play on a team that's going to play for a long time this year," he said.

"He hasn't played a huge number of games in the OHL, so this is advantageous for him and for us. And he gets to play on a team that has a chance to win it all, and in that environment he gets a chance to be a leader and to have leadership rub off on him."

Fritsche returned to Sarnia last week after playing for the United States in Grand Forks, N.D., and although the Sting had said the team wouldn't trade him, he gave GM Alan Millar the OK.

"After the world juniors, I came back and I hadn't demanded anything," Fritsche said. "All I asked is, if teams showed an interest, at least talk to them and see if they could get anything of value or use to Sarnia to better their club.

"If they could move me, I would go. If not, I would stay and work my hardest. But I just asked (if there was to be a trade) to put me with a team where I could be a little more successful.

"I couldn't ask for a better team than London."

Fritsche has heard he will have OHL scoring leader Corey Perry and Dylan Hunter, second in league points , as his wingers.

"Those two guys are both elite players. I'm really excited about it. But I'm really not worried about who I'm going to play with. I know that team is full of great players."

Fritsche also is excited about the Knights being in the Memorial Cup as host team.

"I've got something to look forward to, and there'll be some excitement as the year goes on.

"This team has had tremendous success so far this year. I'm just going to try to help them any way I can with further success."


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