Sutter adds rugged forward
One day after releasing a defenceman whom he originally hoped would provide a physical edge to his team, Brent Sutter added a rugged forward from the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Wednesday.
The Red Deer Rebels general manager/head coach, who on Tuesday released six-foot-four rearguard Spencer Morse, placed 18-year-old Kailum Gervais on the club roster. The six-foot, 200-pound left winger/centre played the past two seasons with the Yorkton Terriers, scoring 16 goals, recording 48 points and racking up 126 minutes in penalties in 85 regular-season games.
“He’s a big, strong kid . . . a hard-nosed, tough kid,” said Sutter. “He played junior A as a 16-year-old and put up some OK numbers his first two years there as a 16- and 17-year-old. He came in today and skated with us for the first time. He’s been recovering from a knee injury and hasn’t been on the ice much this summer and fall.
“But he’s back now and he needs to get into shape. We’re going to give him a shot and watch him and see how he does in the next couple of weeks. We’ll see how his conditioning goes and take it from there.”
Gervais attended the Brandon Wheat Kings camp last year and played in a pair of exhibition games before being sent back to the Terriers, whom he helped win the SJHL title last season while contributing 38 points — including 13 goals — in 51 regular-season outings and four goals and eight points in 16 playoff games.
He also picked up a pair of assists in three games at the Western Canada Cup at Nanaimo, B.C., where the Terriers fell 1-0 to the eventual Royal Bank Cup (Canadian junior A) champion Brooks Bandits in the final.
“He didn’t go back to Brandon’s camp this fall so they deleted him,” said Sutter. “Randy (Rebels director of scouting/player development Peterson) contacted him and he was willing to come here. He’s a big kid, he just has to get into shape so we can get a better feel for him.”
Gervais, a friend of Rebels rookie defenceman Kirk Bear, turned down the Wheat Kings training camp invitation this year because he felt they were mostly interested in him as a fighter.
He told Chase Ruttig of the Yorkton News Review that the Rebels offered him a more attractive role.
“When the Wheat Kings touched base with me they let me know they wanted me to mostly fight,” said Gervais. “I feel that I can bring more to the table than just fighting and Red Deer seems to feel that way as well, so I am excited for a new opportunity in a new environment.”
The Kamsack, Sask., native could become an effective power forward with the Rebels if he continues to develop. He could also ride shotgun for the team’s smaller forwards.
Sutter wouldn’t confirm that Gervais will play in one or both of the Rebels’ final two preseason games, Friday at Lacombe versus the Edmonton Oil Kings and Saturday in Stettler against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
“I’m not sure. We’ll have to see where his conditioning is at by the weekend,” said the Rebels boss.
The Rebels open their Western Hockey League regular season Sept. 20 against the Kootenay Ice at Cranbrook. The two teams will meet again the following night at the Centrium.