Red Deer Rebels general manager/head coach Brent Sutter won’t have to pay a King’s ransom for a starting goaltender for the 2013-14 Western Hockey League season.
The Rebels, thanks to the Los Angeles Kings, will have all-star netminder Patrik Bartosak back in uniform for one final winter.
The Kings selected Bartosak in the fifth round of Sunday’s NHL entry draft and told Sutter on Tuesday that the team is prepared to wait another year to get the 20-year-old Czech signed.
“They’re going to return him,” said Sutter. “They have a lot of goalies under contract right now and they think it would be best for him to come back to Red Deer and play a lot.”
Sutter’s recent hiring of goaltender coach Taylor Dakers, who will work with the Rebels netminders at least 80 days during the season, also impacted the Kings’ decision.
“Plus their goaltending guys (coaches/consultants) know our coaching staff and will have time to come in here and work with (Bartosak), too,” said Sutter. “It works out well. It’s good for everybody.”
The Rebels will most certainly benefit from having Bartosak — the reigning Canadian Hockey League goaltender of the year — as their starter for one more season.
“We’re thrilled to have him back and L.A. is very pleased that they can send him back,” said Sutter. “To get a player like Patty back in the mix here is huge. He’s the CHL goalie of the year, and yet L.A. has other goalies under contract right now and it just made sense for them to have him come back here.”
With Bartosak’s return a certainty and promising Czech forward Dominik Volek already on the roster, the Rebels have their quota of two imports and will not participate in today’s CHL import draft.
Bartosak will attend the Kings prospects camp in August as well as the rookie camp in September before rejoining the Rebels prior to the start of the WHL regular season.
As it currently stands, the list of possible back-up netminders for the Rebels’ 2013-14 season includes returnee Bolton Pouliot, former Lethbridge Hurricane Tanner Kovacs and potential rookies Taz Burman, Grant Naherniak and Rylan Toth.
“We’re happy about him returning. Obviously, to get an elite goalie like that back in the mix is huge,” said Sutter.
Bartosak’s return could also push the Rebels over their limit of 20-year-olds. Forwards Rhyse Dieno and recently-acquired Lukas Sutter — provided the Winnipeg Jets don’t offer him a contract — would appear to have the inside track on the other two overage spots, possibly leaving forward Tyson Ness available for trade.
l The Rebels open training camp Aug. 24 at the Centrium. The Black and White game will be played Aug. 29.
Red Deer has six preseason games, including Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 contests versus the Prince George Cougars and Edmonton Oil Kings as part a tournament at St. Albert. The Rebels will take on the Calgary Hitmen Sept. 6 at a site to be determined, then will face the Lethbridge Hurricanes Sept. 7 at the Red Deer Arena and the Oil Kings and Medicine Hat Tigers Sept. 13 and 14 at Lacombe and Stettler.
l The Rebels open their regular season schedule with a home-and-home series versus the Kootenay Ice — Sept. 20 at Cranbrook and the following night at the Centrium.