Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin and Daulton Siwak have something in common of major consequence.
Both are expecting big things from the third-year forward heading into the 2011-12 Western Hockey League season.
“I’ve had meetings with (Wallin) and the coaching staff has set some high expectations for me,” Siwak said Tuesday at the Centrium, where the Rebels continued to prepare for Friday’s 7:30 p.m. regular season opener versus the visiting and defending league champion Kootenay Ice.
“And this summer I developed the intention of having high expectations for myself.”
The Olds native is definitely on the radar in regards to the 2012 NHL entry draft, as evidenced by his invitation and ensuing participation in the NHL’s research and development camp at Toronto in August. The event involved the top 36 North American prospects for next year’s draft.
“I was kind of surprised when I got the invite. I didn’t know I was ranked that high,” said the six-foot, 190-pound Siwak.“It was a bit of an eye-opener as to who my competition is (for the draft) and the calibre of players I’ll be competing against (for draft positioning) this year.”
Siwak will get every opportunity to establish himself as a go-to guy this season.
“He’s a very talented young man who we need to step up for us in a big way this year,” said Wallin. “He’s certainly got the ability and now he’s got the experience, being in the league for two years. He has a late birthdate (Siwak turns 18 on Oct. 25) so to a certain degree we’ve had to be patient with him, but now, as an experienced guy, he has to step up. It’s his time now.
“He just has to take the right approach mentally in regards to his work ethic. The big thing with Daulton is his consistency . . . he has to be consistent in his approach, in his preparation and his work ethic on a shift to shift basis and throughout his shift. When he’s working at a high level and competing the way he can he’s an effective guy.”
With the loss of scoring forwards Byron Froese, Andrej Kudrna and possibly Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Rebels will require increased production from a large handful of their veteran forwards this season, Siwak included.
“Yeah, missing Froese and Hoppy so far . . . those guys are 80- to 100-point guys and somebody has to fill that role. I’ll play it by ear, but I think 60 points, minimum, is a number I can shoot for,” said Siwak, who appeared in all 72 games in 2010-11 while scoring 13 goals and collecting 27 points.
Siwak played top-six minutes late last season while skating on a line with centre Byron Froese and left winger Brett Ferguson. This season, he’ll line up as a centre, his natural position.
“Now he has to seize the opportunity, he has to have high expectations of himself,” said Wallin.
“Everyone wants the opportunity and when you get it it’s up to the individual to take advantage of it. Daulton is going to get a huge opportunity this season and I’m excited to see what he does with it.”
l Justin Weller has returned from the Phoenix Coyotes camp but fellow defenceman Alex Petrovic is still with the Florida Panthers and isn’t expected to be back in the Rebels lineup for Friday’s outing or Sunday’s 3 p.m. game against the Edmonton Oil Kings at the Centrium.