New Rebel Nell draws high praise
When Brent Sutter talks about Meyer Nell he’s pretty much describing the type of player every team covets.
“He’s smart, he has good skills, he can skate and he has good size,” the Red Deer Rebels general manager/head coach said Monday, in reference to the 16-year-old forward who was recently recalled from the Notre Dame midget AAA Argos and will be with the WHL club for the remainder of the season.
Nell, a product of Boissevain, Man., who was selected by the Rebels in the fifth round of the 2012 bantam draft, was impressive during the club’s training camp and through a pair of preseason games before being reassigned in early September.
“He just wasn’t where we would have liked him to be in terms of being ready to play at this level,” said Sutter, who at the time felt Nell would be better off playing in the midget AAA ranks.
“The main concern we had was if we kept him any longer he might not have a place to play. He was enrolled at Notre Dame and we wanted him to go there and have a chance to play on the better of the two teams (Argos and Hounds).”
Nell put up six points in two exhibition games and then scored three goals and added an assist in the Argos’ first regular-season contest.
“He went back to Notre Dame and was lights out,” said Sutter. “He played really well and put up lots of points. I kept in touch with Randy (Rebels director of scouting/player development Peterson) and Shaun (senior scout Sutter) and we talked about bringing him back.
“He joined us on our road trip and played really well for us as a 16-year-old.”
Nell appeared in all four games of an Eastern Division road trip that concluded Saturday in Brandon, where he recorded his first-ever WHL regular-season point with an assist on a goal by Christian Stockl in a 4-2 Red Deer victory.
“I had a fairly good start to my midget season and was hoping that would lead to a recall,” said Nell, who will make his Rebels home-ice debut tonight against the Everett Silvertips. “I felt really good in my first game with the Rebels and felt that I just kept on getting better as the road trip continued.”
Nell played with the Southeast Cougars of the Manitoba Midget AAA League last season as a 15-year-old and while he didn’t put up huge numbers — six goals and 22 points in 37 games — he admitted the experience helped his development.
“It was good to get to play against the bigger bodies. It was an advantage in getting me ready for the next level,” said Nell.
The six-foot, 184-pound centre had no problem with being reassigned to the midget AAA ranks in September.
“Starting the season at the midget level really helped me out,” he said. “I had a good summer of training leading into the season and coming out of the Rebels camp and going to Notre Dame gave me another good look at the difference in levels and I was able to excel.”
Nell, whose personal goal this season is to further develop as a two-way player, is on the short list for Team Western, which will represent Manitoba and Saskatchewan in the World Under 17 Challenge Dec. 28-Jan. 4 in Nova Scotia.
The final roster will be announced in November.
Regardless of whether Nell plays in the international tournament, he knows that Red Deer will be his home this winter.
“I’m excited and happy to be here,” he said.
l Rebels defenceman Brady Gaudet is expected to play tonight after missing Saturday’s game in Brandon with an ankle bruise.