Red Deer Rebels GM/Head Coach Brent Sutter has seen enough WHL training camps to not get too excited after the first day of camp.
Still, with a strong returning core on forward and relatively set defensive group, Sutter couldn’t help but share some optimism for the upcoming year.
“We’ll have to add some of these younger players to our group up front. There’s one or two guys that we like on the back end that we think are ready to push,” Sutter said.
“We’ll see; that’s why you have training camp and the exhibition season. It’ll all sort itself out as we go along. You don’t get too crazy into your evaluation too early. You want the kids to settle in and get feeling comfortable and let things happen as they do on the ice with their skills, work ethic and character.”
The seven-day training camp started Wednesday at the Centrium and players will hit the ice almost everyday from now until the Black and White Game on Aug. 30.
Returning forwards like Brandon Hagel, Lane Zablocki, Grayson Pwlenchuk, Austin Pratt, Dawson Martin, Akash Bains, Jordan Roy were in attendance.
On the back end, Alexander Alexeyev, Brandon Schuldhaus, Carson Sass, Jared Freadrich, Dawson Barteaux and Ethan Sakowich also skated. Both Riley Lamb and Lasse Peterson were in net on day one along with Byron Fancy and Ethan Anders.
There were plenty of new faces up front too, notable names like sixth round, 2016 WHL Bantam Draft pick Jayden McCarthy on the ice along with fourth rounder River Fahey and 2015 third round selection Chase Lowry.
On defence, Nic Draffin and Jacob Herauf will likely make a push for the team as well as Hunter Donohoe from Surrey.
Camp marks a significant opportunity for Rebels’ hopefuls to make an impression on Sutter.
“We want them to be able to execute. We want to see where they’re at with their conditioning, pace and hockey sense,” Sutter said.
“There’s going to be a few spots up front that these young kids are going to sort out as we go along. Who’s going to be the players on the team, whether you’re 16 or 17. We’ll just see, it’s exciting in the sense that these young players are good players. It’s a very highly skilled group.”
Training camp continues on Friday with the players taking to the ice at the Centrium from 9:30- 11 a.m. and again from 1-3 p.m.