Adam Musil doesn’t have to be told that he’s heading into a crucial Western Hockey League season.
Not only are the Red Deer Rebels hosting the 2016 Memorial Cup tournament next May, but the big forward is hoping to secure a big-league contract at some point during the season after being selected by the St. Louis Blues early in the fourth round of the NHL entry draft in June.
“It’s a big year for myself and for our team,” the six-foot-three, 205-pound centre said Tuesday, following a training camp scrimmage at the Centrium. “We have a goal that we want to accomplish and there’s going to be lots of pressure on us. But I think we’ll be ready for it and I’m excited for what’s ahead.”
Musil experienced an uneven 2014-15 WHL season and finished with 39 points, including 15 goals, in 66 games. He suffered a lower-body injury in the Rebels’ final regular-season game and didn’t dress for any of the club’s five playoff contests.
Due to his inconsistent play, Musil’s NHL draft stock slipped somewhat, and yet the Blues weren’t going to let him slip past No. 94.
“For sure, that was exciting,” he said of hearing his name called at the entry draft in Miami. “But getting drafted is just one step. Signing (a contract) and making that next step is much tougher.
“I have to get to that next level and I’m going to have to work much harder to get there.”
So far, so good. Musil has been impressive in training camp while skating on a line with fellow Czech Republic native Michael Spacek, a Winnipeg Jets prospect who was selected by the Rebels in this year’s CHL import draft.
Musil, who has dual Canadian/Czech citizenship, had a busy summer, heading back to his homeland to train and visit family, then traveling to Florida for the NHL draft, visiting S. Louis a week later for a prospects camp and even training in Red Deer for a short spell.
“I feel good,” he insisted. “It’s nice to be back around the boys. I’m excited to be back.”
Musil has been Spacek’s English language translator through training camp and has ties to the talented Czech forward that date back roughly eight years.
“I used to play with him (in the Czech Republic) when I was much younger, like 10 or something,” said Musil, who later played bantam and midget hockey in Vancouver. “It’s nice to be playing together again and creating some chemistry out there.
“Hopefully we’ll do well during the season.”
Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter is anticipating a rebound season for Musil and sees him playing an expanded role.
“Absolutely, it’s a big year for him,” said Sutter. “He didn’t have a great second half last season and he has to be ready to go this fall. He’s a year older and there will be more expectations placed on him.”
The Rebels boss suggested that Musil and Spacek, along with Grayson Pawlenchuk, who has been one of the more noticeable forwards in camp, could be regular linemates this season.
“Musil and Spacek communicated well together and the way Pawly is playing he might be a good fit on that line,” said Sutter. “That could be a good 18-year-old line for us.”
l Team White edged Team Black 5-4 in Tuesday’s final main camp scrimmage preceding tonight’s 7 p.m. Black and White intrasquad game.
Scoring for the winners were Pawlenchuk, Conner Bleackley, Jeff de Wit, Austin Pratt and Wyatt Johnson (penalty shot). D-Jay Jerome, a Lethbridge product promoted from rookie camp, Haydn Fleury, Ivan Nikolishin and Lane Pederson (penalty shot) responded in a losing cause.
The majority of the players who skated in the scrimmage will play in tonight’s Black and White game, the exceptions being Fleury, fellow defenceman Colton Bobyk and 16-year-old forward Parker Saretsky, who returned to his Wainwright home Tuesday night.
Fleury, a first-round pick of Carolina in the 2014 NHL draft, is off to Raleigh, N.C., today to begin early preparations for the Hurricanes camp, while Bobyk, who’s looked comfortable in camp despite undergoing off-season surgery for a dislocated kneecap, will be held out of tonight’s game but will dress for the Rebels’ preseason opener Saturday versus the Edmonton Oil Kings at St. Albert.
Saretsky, who will be listed by the Rebels, was sent home to start preparing for the upcoming midget AAA season.
Also promoted from rookie to main camp for Tuesday’s final scrimmage were defencemen Boo Grist, Jacob Herauf, Jace Foskey, Carson Sass and Spencer McHardy, and forwards Jerome, Tanner Sidaway, Eli Zummack, Brayden Labant, Brandon Cutler, Chase Lowry, Brendan Budy and Jack Langenhahn, all of whom will play tonight.