Stockl adjusting to new life in Red Deer
With the Saskatoon Blades slow out of the gate and skating in the wrong direction, Christian Stockl had a hunch that something was up.
He was correct.
“I knew Saskatoon was going to do some moving, so I wasn’t too surprised,” he said, looking back at Monday’s trade that shifted the Winnipeg product — plus a third-round selection in the 2014 WHL bantam draft — to the Red Deer Rebels in return for Adam Kambeitz.
“But being traded was obviously a big deal. At the same time, I’m looking forward to this new opportunity.”
Stockl, 17, was still getting accustomed to his new surroundings, including Hunting Hills High School, on Thursday.
“It’s a great town. It’s a good experience coming over here and I think it’s going to be a good opportunity. It’s a big change but I’m looking forward to it. Coming over from Manitoba and changing to a Saskatoon school and now to a school in Alberta . . . that can be pretty difficult. But you just have to continue to work hard.”
Stockl has never met Kambeitz but suggested that he was flattered to be dealt in return for the former Rebels captain.
“Obviously getting traded for a captain is a big deal. I’m not going to be able to fill that type of role right away,” said the six-foot, 167-pound forward. “But hopefully I can fill those shoes someday.
“As a younger guy I’m just going to do what I can here and eventually, hopefully, be a leader for this team.”
Stockl was a big-time producer at the midget AAA level last season, scoring 36 goals and putting up 68 points in 38 games with the Manitoba champion Winnipeg Wild. He had one goal in five games as a Blades rookie this season and picked up an assist in his first outing with the Rebels — a 3-2 victory over the host Swift Current Broncos on Tuesday.
“I consider myself to be an all-around player. I can score and set up plays,” he said. “Getting a point in that first game was nice.”
Stockl isn’t a stranger to all of his Rebels teammates.
He was a teammate of Kevin Pochuk and Jesse Miller with the Wild last season and played with Kayle Doetzel and Cory Millette on Team Western in the 2012 World Under-17 Challenge.
“It’s good to have those guys here to help show me the way here and become familiar with the team,” said Stockl.
Rebels general manager Brent Sutter pulled the trigger on the Monday deal after watching Stockl play in a pair of games — against the Rebels in Saskatoon last week and at Edmonton during the weekend.
Sutter likes Stockl’s skill and potential and said he’ll play in Red Deer as a top-six forward.
“He’ll be put into a situation where he can succeed, on one of our top lines,” said the Rebels’ boss.
Stockl, at Sutter’s suggestion, played at centre in Swift Current, between Matt Bellerive and Tyson Ness.
“He’s normally a right wing but my recommendation to our coaching staff was to put him at centre,” said Sutter. “When you watch him play, with his skill sets and how he sees the ice, it’s almost holding him back by playing the wing.
“We have to allow him to have that flow in his game and let his skills flourish. The best situation is for him to play centre ice. It tells you about his hockey sense that he had never played there before and went in and looked like he been playing centre his whole life. That says something about him as a player.”