KENNEWICK — Carter Ashton has a place on the Tri-City Americans' team wall as a first-round NHL draft pick and a World Junior Championship participant.
His image was found on a trading card in packs handed out last week -- all before he even laced up his skates.
Wednesday, Ashton was in practice gear on the ice at Toyota Center, skating with the Americans for the first time since he was acquired from Regina on Dec. 10.
"What I've seen so far is great," said Ashton, who has played just one game in his WHL career at Toyota Center. "As a first sense, it's very welcoming. I'm looking forward to that first win, getting chemistry with the guys and moving forward."
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Though the trade was more than a month ago, the Americans had to wait as Ashton skated with Team Canada at the WJC, winning a silver medal after losing the final to Russia. Ashton then took a much-deserved week off before landing in the Tri-Cities on Wednesday afternoon.
"You have to move on," Ashton said of the loss to Russia. "With that being such a big game, it will always be part of my life, but coming to a new team will help put that behind me. When I got home (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), I rested a couple of days and watched a couple of games online. I wanted to be here, but I knew I needed the rest. The time off really helped."
Newly acquired defenseman Matt MacKenzie played against Ashton several times when Ashton played at Lethbridge and he was at Calgary. MacKenzie looks forward to seeing what the Americans are capable of now that all the pieces are in place.
"To add him to the lineup, he'll help even more with the scoring," MacKenzie said. "It's good to be on the same side with him."
Ashton echoed the sentiment.
"He's a good player," Ashton said. "When I was in Lethbridge, we saw a lot of each other. I'm looking forward to playing with him."
Both players bring valuable experience to the Americans, Ashton with the WJC and MacKenzie as a key player for Calgary when it went to the Memorial Cup last year.
"As a hockey player, there are different levels as you go," Ashton said. "To be able to build as a player and have success at the World Juniors will help me as a player here."