Feeling blue?

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

Ladislav Smid figured he'd be California dreaming for a long time when the Anaheim Ducks made him their first pick - ninth overall - in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

But the talented Czech defenceman never played a game in Anaheim.

Smid, 20, was part of the asking price in the deal that sent Chris Pronger to the Golden State this off-season.

Smid was acquired by the Oilers from the Ducks along with forward Joffrey Lupul and three draft picks for Pronger.

"I'm glad that I was traded," Smid said yesterday between workouts at the University of Alberta.

"This is a good chance for me to make the team, so I'm excited."

Last year Smid played 71 games for the Ducks affiliate in Portland, scoring three goals and adding 25 assists.

This year he's expected to make the jump to the NHL level.

"I remember when we traded for Eric Brewer under similar circumstances and he really surprised fans how quickly he was able to play," said Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe.

"Our expectations are that (Smid's) not going to have any problems making the team and that he's going to contribute a significant number of minutes."

The native of Frylandt in the Czech Republic arrived with countryman and fellow blueliner Jan Hejda on Friday.

The two met some of their teammates for the first time yesterday.

"It makes it a little easier when there are two of us," Smid said. "This is better because we can talk to each other. It makes the adjustment a little easier."

Despite having come over in such a high-profile trade, Lowe is not concerned with expectations being too high on his young defenceman.

Smid is not expected to replace Pronger on his own. He's just expected to chip in and help fill the void on the blue-line.

"I think that (expectation) will fall on Joffrey a little bit more (than) on Smid," Lowe said. "The nice thing about Joffrey is that he's just emerging and he's still got room to grow. I think people will look more at the combination of the two of them (for Pronger)."

Regardless, Smid is happy to be in Edmonton as is Hejda.

Hejda, 28, was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres this summer and was promptly signed to a contract.

The native of Prague has played his entire career in Europe up to this point.

"I'm happy to be here and I'm excited about training camp," Hejda said through Smid yesterday.

Having played in three world championships for the Czech Republic, expectations are high for Hejda.

"He's a veteran guy, even though not veteran to the NHL. He's not going to be intimidated by a different game," said Lowe. "He's been through the wars. He might have a little bit of an adjustment period, but he's really motivated to be successful in the NHL. I think he'll fit in well with us."


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