The Red Deer Rebels have previous experience at striking out in the first round of the Western Hockey League bantam draft.
Examples? Connor Redmond, just six years ago, and Kevin Labbe in 1997 come to mind.
Adam Musil, it is almost certain, will not slide into that rather unfortunate category — which, arguably, consists of at least two more names — and is a solid bet to be a full-time Rebel next season and a major contributor for the next few years.
“He’s had a really strong year. We’re really pleased with his development at this point,” said Rebels director of scouting/player development Randy Peterson. “At times we’ve felt that we needed him to use his size to more advantage and he’s definitely been doing that lately. At the Mac’s (Calgary midget AAA tournament) he was especially strong in that area.”
Musil, the Rebels’ first pick — sixth overall — in last year’s draft, is the second-leading scorer with the Greater Vancouver Canadians of the BC Major Midget League with 11 goals and 31 points in 25 games. He has also racked up 24 minutes in penalties.
“The speed and skill he possesses for a big man are obvious,” said Peterson.
The six-foot-one, 185-pound centre has appeared in three games with the Rebels this season and should be in Red Deer for the entire 2013-14 campaign.
“We sure see it that way and I’m sure that’s the way Brent (Rebels GM/head coach Sutter) feels,” said Peterson.
Another prospect who could gain regular employment with the Rebels next season is netminder Taz Burman, taken in the second round of the 2012 bantam draft.
The six-foot, 152-pound stopper has a 9-7-1 record with Greater Vancouver, along with a 2.47 goals-against average. Burman played with B.C. in the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup last fall and was stellar at the Mac’s tournament in December.
Whether he’ll be with the Rebels next season remains to be seen, but senior scout Shaun Sutter is confident he’ll get that opportunity.
“You don’t normally expect a 16-year-old goalie to play in our league, but he’s put himself into the equation with his strong play,” said Sutter. “We feel he’s one of the best goaltenders currently outside of the WHL.”
Forward Vukie Mpofu, selected in the 2011 draft, will definitely get a long look in training camp next fall. He was reassigned to the Saskatchewan Midget AAA League just prior to the start of the 2012-13 season and has starred with the Saskatoon Contacts, his 58 points (27-31) in 35 games placing him second in league scoring.
“He’s put up some great numbers,” said Peterson, marvelling at the manner in which the five-foot-eight, 168-pound Saskatoon product successfully converted from a defenceman to a forward, a switch that came about in the Rebels camp last fall.
“Brent saw his skill level and thought maybe the only way he would have an opportunity to play in our league would be as a forward,” said Peterson. “Vukie and his family were in full support of that, and credit to the Contacts for his development. He’s certainly shown what he can do at that position. He’s taken the ball and run with it.”
Following is a further list of Rebels prospects, including position, year of birth, size, 2012-13 statistics (games played, goals, assists, points and penalty minutes) and current team, with comments from Peterson and Sutter:
Meyer Nell; forward; ‘97-born; five-foot-11, 165 pounds; 35-6-16-22-12, Southwest Cougars (MMAAAHL)
“He’s a centre who’s playing left wing on a team that’s been up and down. We’re pretty pleased with his development, for sure, he’s coming along. We project him to be a big player down the road, a six-foot-one kid with power.” — Peterson.
Lynnden Pastachak; forward; ‘96-born; five-foot-11, 155 pounds; 35-23-22-45-63, Yorkton Harvest (SMAAAHL)
“He’s fifth in league scoring and is definitely going to be pushing for a spot next season. He has skill and good hockey sense. He has a few things he needs to work on, like strength and speed . . . he could be an extra step quicker. But he’s a highly-talented kid and he’s having a year good year in midget AAA.” — Peterson.
Austin Strand; defence; ‘97-born; six-foot-two, 160 pounds; 29-6-7-13-34; Calgary Northstars (AMHL)
“Austin is getting huge minutes, he’s a go-to guy on his team. He’s a real lanky kid so he has to fill out a bit, but he’s had a real good year. We thought when we drafted him that he was arguably the hardest guy in his age group to play against — that’s something that he brings to the table. He’s also a guy who makes a good first pass and makes good decisions. He just needs to fill out, but he has all the tools.” — Sutter.
Grayson Pawlenchuk; forward; ‘97-born; five-foot-10, 165 pounds; 28-9-14-23-18; Sherwood Park Kings (AMHL)
“Along with Musil, he’s a guy who will probably step in next year. Since Christmas he has steadily progressed, he seems to get better almost every single game. He’s 15 playing midget AAA and I’ve seen games where he’s been dominant, the best player on the ice. He’s a guy who can contribute in all facets of the game.” — Sutter.
Mason McCarty; forward; ‘97-born; five-foot-eight, 140 pounds; 30-12-12-24-34; UFA Bisons (AMHL)
“He injured a nerve at the (Alberta) under-16 tryouts and hasn’t had complete feeling in his hand most of the year, but is still almost a point a game guy. He’s a guy who has done pretty well considering that and the fact he’s a smaller player. He’s had a pretty productive year.” — Sutter.
Earl Webb; forward; ‘96-born; six-foot-two, 195 pounds; 27-8-5-13-60; Calgary Buffaloes (AMHL)
“He’s a big power guy who has been a little bit inconsistent, but when he’s playing physical he’s capable of being a force out there because of his size. In the second half of the season, since the Mac’s tournament, he’s been more productive.” — Sutter.
Cole Chorney; forward; ‘96-born; six-foot, 166 pounds; 30-17-9-26-32; Edmonton Maple Leafs (AMHL)
“He’s one of the top goal scorers in Alberta midget AAA and he’ll be pushing to make our team next year. He has good size and he’s really improved his overall game. He’s one of those guys who’s above average in everything.” — Sutter.
Grant Naherniak; goaltender; ‘96-born; six-foot, 170 pounds; 6-7-1-0 win-loss, 3.20 GAA, .888 save %; Moose Jaw Generals (SMAAAHL)
“He’s had a bit of an up and down season. Last year he was among the leaders in the Saskatchewan midget AAA league but this year he has struggled at times. But we think he’ll be fine.” — Peterson.
Kaleb Denham; defence; ‘96-born; six-foot-one, 160 pounds; 24-0-3-3-39; Red Deer Optimist (AMHL)
“He’s a kid who has steadily improved. He may be one of the most improved defencemen in his age group. He’s a huge kid who makes a good first pass and has pretty good feet. He’s a good skater for his size, has good hockey sense and has continued to develop an edge. We want him to be a big, rugged guy who’s tough to play against, and he’s continually progressed in that area.” — Sutter.
Brayden Burke; forward; ‘97-born; five-foot-eight, 130 pounds; 28-9-15-24-30; Edmonton CAC (AMHL)
“Burkie has grown a couple of inches since the beginning of camp last fall and he’s worked extremely hard to get stronger and has also gotten a step quicker. He’s strong on the puck, strong on his feet and has good vision. During a game a couple of weeks ago, he was picked to take a penalty shot for his team. That tells you what kind of a player he is as a 15-year-old on a midget AAA team.” — Sutter.
Jake MacLachlan; defence; ‘96-born; six-foot-one, 180 pounds; 31-2-11-13-17; Fernie Ghostriders (junior B)
“He’s mobile and he moves the puck. We’d like him to be a little more assertive and use his size more, but he’s a signed player and will definitely be given every opportunity to play with us next season” — Peterson.
Chase Thudium; forward; ‘96-born; five-foot-nine, 155 pounds; 30-9-9-18-14; Red Deer Optimist (AMHL)
“He’s a real honest player who always plays hard. He’s a character kid who can do a bit of everything.” — Sutter.
Rylen Toth; goaltender; ‘96-born; six-foot-one, 178 pounds; 7-10-4-0 win-loss, 3.31 GAA, .899 save %; Battleford Stars (SMAAAHL)
“We listed him during the Mac’s tournament and he’s struggled a bit since then while playing on a weaker team. But he has some really good athletic abilities.” — Peterson.
Bryson Traptow; forward; ‘97-born; six-foot-one, 155 pounds; 24-14-27-41-48; Calgary NW Bruins (minor midget AAA)
“He’s a kid who’s really grown and he’s one of the leading scorers in his league.” — Sutter.
Austin Shmoorkoff; defence; ‘97-born; six-foot-one, 160 pounds; 14-1-4-5-18; Edmonton CAC (minor midget AAA)
“He’s a big kid who plays with an edge and he’s a good skater who thinks the game well. He’ll have a chance down the road, for sure.” — Sutter.
Matt Lapointe, forward; ‘96-born; six-foot-two, 185 pounds; 29-14-13-27-6; Edmonton K of C (AMHL)
“He’s a 6-2 guy who plays a power game similar to (Earl) Webb, but is about a point per game this season. Even more impressive is that he got off to a slow start, so he’s kind of been on fire the last month and a half. He’s a guy who has gone up and played junior A games (with Spruce Grove of the AJHL) this season and he’ll definitely be knocking on the door here because we want to add some size next year.” — Sutter.
Tanner Laderoute; forward; ‘97-born; five-foot-six, 135 pounds; 20-13-15-28-8; Edmonton K of C (minor midget AAA)
“Before he injured his shoulder, and he has since returned, he was one of the top scorers in his league, averaging almost two points a game.” — Sutter.
Connor Hamonic; defence; ‘96-born; six-foot-one, 188 pounds; 20-2-10-12-22; Winnipeg Wild (MMAAAHL)
“He’s a puck-moving guy, the best defenceman on his team.” — Peterson.
Nicholas Patterson; goaltender; ‘97-born; five-foot-11, 160 pounds; 3-7-3 win-loss, 4.19 GAA, .903 save %; Calgary Canucks (minor midget AAA)
“He’s a goalie we really like, He plays on a weak team so the majority of the shots he faces are quality chances. He’s had an up and down year but in the games he’s played well he’s stood on his head.” — Sutter.
Holden Daley; defence; ‘96-born; six-foot, 180 pounds; 30-0-4-4-42; Edmonton CAC (AMHL)
“He’s a stay-at-home, rugged defender. He’ll have to improve his skating in order to be knocking on the door here, but he has made progression.” — Sutter.
Blake Weyrick; goaltender; ‘96-born; six-foot-four, 185 pounds; stats unavailable; US Development Program
“He’s on our college list and is one of the top goaltenders in the U.S. in his age group. He’s an outstanding goalie. It’s 50-50, at best, that we’ll get him here.” — Peterson.
Wyatt Kalynuk; defence; ‘97-born; five-foot-10, 140 pounds; 41-1-15-16-32; Southwest Cougars (MMAAAHL)
“He’s an extremely mobile kid who was able to convert to defence due to his skating ability. He moves the puck well and is very smart. We see him as a forward down the road.” — Peterson.
Cole Pierson; defence; ‘97-born; six-foot-three, 190 pounds; 32-4-6-10-32; Okanagan Hockey Academy varsity
“He needs some time to develop, but he’s a big guy who shows some good signs.” — Sutter.