Hitmen grab familiar forwards

CAMERON MAXWELL, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 5:26 PM ET

There are the great ones like Pavel Brendl and Fredrik Sjostrom.

Then there are the busts like Jiri Cetkovsky and Tomas Troliga.

So, only time will tell if the two latest Calgary Hitmen CHL import draft selections, chosen yesterday, pan out or flame out.

The Hitmen had two first round picks, taking Lukas Ventuch of the Czech Republic, 39th overall, and Sweden's Fredrik Pettersson with their second pick -- obtained in a deal with Seattle -- at 48th overall.

Hitmen GM/co-coach Kelly Kisio said he's happy to get those two players and is confident they'll come overseas and suit up for the WHL club next season.

"There were a couple other guys we could have taken at different spots but we liked these guys and we know they'll come over," said Kisio.

Ventuch is a 6-ft. 3-in., 200-lb. centre, who turns 18 next month and is eligible for this year's NHL entry draft. Kisio, who has seen him play in the Viking Cup, knows what he brings.

"He was a lot younger then, kind of a big, tall gangly kid and now he's matured a little bit and gotten stronger, so he'll be good at centre ice for us," said Kisio.

Pettersson, a 5-ft. 9-in. forward, is another 18-year-old, and some hockey fans in Calgary will recall he played here in the 2004 Mac's Tournament for Team Sweden.

Hockey's Future described him as the flashiest Swede eligible for the 2005 NHL entry draft, next to Nicklas Bergfors.

"He's a real quick guy. Great skater, has a good shot and handles the puck real well. The only knock against him is his size," said Kisio.

"But people think he's going to be a really good junior player and he wants to come over and maybe get a chance to play pro."

Pettersson played in the 2004 Mac's tournament with Sweden and despite his size -- 5-ft. 9-in., 180-lb., he's got some skill, which is something the Hitmen will need next season.

"We're hoping they can help out and help us win. We're going to have to score by committee this year because we're going to be really young up front," said Kisio.

The Hitmen open their training camp at the end of August.


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