Excuse Patrik Bartosak if he’s not throwing a party after being listed No. 10 among North American goaltenders in Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings released Tuesday.
“It was the same last season. I was No. 10 last season too, so I don’t really care about this too much,” said the Red Deer Rebels netminder. “I just want to be successful with the team this year. I don’t really look at draft rankings. I just want to be as good as I can be.”
Bartosak has been very good this season, as in ‘Rebels-most-valuable-player’ good. And if he continues to perform at his current level for the next few months, he’ll almost certainly be selected in June’s NHL entry draft, or at least earn a free-agent tryout.
The Czech import would likely have been picked in last year’s draft except for a season-ending shoulder injury he suffered in December of 2011. Still, he went into the draft as the No. 8 ranked North American stopper before being passed over.
He knows his play from now until the end of the Western Hockey League season will determine his true worth as a potential NHL goaltender.
“I’m just going to play as good as I can, just going to focus on making the playoffs and help the team to get as far as we can,” said Bartosak, who will celebrate his 20th birthday in March. “I’ll be watching the draft, but I’m not really curious about it right now.”
Bartosak was between the pipes for all three of the Rebels’ road games last week following his return from the world junior championship in Russia, where he posted a 4-1 record as a starter and made 20 saves as the Czech Republic edged Switzerland 4-3 in the fifth-place game.
“It was an awesome experience playing against the best players in the world in my age category,” he said. “Russia is kind of a specific country, but once you’re there you don’t really care about the food or about the hotel rooms. You just want to enjoy the moment and spend a good time with your team and have fun, and I sure did.
“It was a lot of fun and an awesome experience.”
The WHL goaltenders ranked ahead of Bartosak for the 2013 NHL entry draft are No. 2 Eric Comrie of the Tri-City Americans and No. 3 Tristan Jarry of the Edmonton Oil Kings, who will visit the Centrium Thursday for a 7 p.m. engagement with the Rebels.
In the event that Bartosak is selected in the entry draft and his NHL club decides another year of major junior seasoning would be best for his development, Sutter would welcome him back with open arms.
“We’ve had communication with his agent already and he’s supportive of wanting him to play another year of junior if need be,” said Sutter.
Meanwhile, Red Deer defenceman Kayle Doetzel and forward Matt Bellerive are ranked 50th and 129th among North American skaters by Central Scouting.
“Matt has had an opportunity here to play in our top nine forwards and for the most part he’s been pretty consistent,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said of Bellerive, whom he acquired in a September deal with the Vancouver Giants.
“The whole thing with ‘Beller’ is that consistency of bringing that game every night. He’s got to be involved to be effective and when he does that he’s very effective.”
As for Doetzel, whose development has been somewhat slowed by injuries . . .
“The biggest issue with Kayle is consistency. He needs to be a steady defenceman, he’s not going to be a offensive guy at all,” said Sutter. “He has to be a shutdown type of defenceman who has to be very steady and he has to be a physical presence on the ice as far as being a guy who’s hard to play against.”
Portland Winterhawks rearguard Seth Jones is the top-ranked player for the draft, just ahead of Halifax Mooseheads linemates Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. Other WHL players ranked in the top 10 are Medicine Hat Tigers forward Hunter Shinkaruk (fifth) and Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Ryan Pulock (sixth).
• Rebels defenceman Mathew Dumba has already made a positive impression at the Minnesota Wild training camp, according to Wild head coach Mike Yeo and Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“He is going to be a really, really good player,” Yeo told Russo. “It’s a big jump. One week you’re playing junior hockey and the next week you’re coming out playing against world class players. I think he’s done a real nice job. You can see his strengths. He had that one great shift in the offensive zone (during a Monday scrimmage). They controlled the puck down there for 45 seconds, to a minute, and a lot of it was going through him on the blue line. He has a great shot and he skates extremely well.”
Asked if there’s a chance Dumba sticks past this week, Yeo responded: “Just going with an open mind. All the D played very well. All of them.”