For the most part, the Red Deer Rebels are focused on the here and now, but there’s no harm in planning for the future.
To that end, Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter and assistant GM/director of player personnel Shaun Sutter were in the stands at the Burnaby Winter Club Sunday to watch listed prospect Ryan Pouliot and his Vancouver NW Giants participate in a B.C. Major Midget Hockey League game.
Pouliot, a defenceman drafted by Saskatoon in the 11th round of the 2013 Western Hockey League bantam draft and later dropped by the Blades, was recently added to Red Deer’s protected player list and could be draped in Rebels colours as early as next fall.
“He’s grown quite a bit over the last two years and is now over six feet,” Brent Sutter said Tuesday. “I like him, he’s definitely going to be a player. He and his family just have to decide which route they want to go, whether they want to go (U.S.) college or major junior.”
The 16-year-old rearguard, who stands six-foot and checks in at 170 pounds according to the BCMMHL website, has scored five goals, collected 13 points and racked up 64 minutes in penalties in 30 games with the Giants this season. He’s also appeared in seven games with the junior A Powell River Kings defenceman without registering a point while being assessed four minor penalties.
“We’ll bring the family into Red Deer in the near future to discuss the situation,” said the Rebels bench boss. “Shaun and Randy (Rebels director of scouting Peterson) are really high on him and after watching him play I’m convinced he’s going to be a real steady defenceman at the next level.
“He’s a pretty good skater who moves the puck really well and he’s big and plays with an edge. I like him, now we just have to see what the family wants to do. They’re certainly interested in the option of playing major junior.”
Sutter suggested Pouliot would be a candidate to earn regular employment with next season’s Memorial Cup host team.
“He turns 17 this year (May 26) and we think he can push to play on our team next season,” he said.
Another potential newcomer for the 2015-16 WHL season is netminder Trevor Martin, who was acquired from the Blades in early January and is currently stopping pucks for the Melville Millionaires of SJHL. Martin, in fact, is excelling with the junior A club, with two shutouts, an impressive 1.79 goals-against average and a glistening .941 save percentage is 15 games.
“He’s playing really well. From talking to any of the coaches and GMs in the SJHL who have seen him play, they say he’s been outstanding,” said Sutter, who is considering the possibility of summoning the 18-year-old for one of four games the Rebels play in Saskatchewan next week.
“We (coaching staff) want to talk about that this week,” said Sutter. “We play four games in five nights next week and they (Millionaires) don’t play until Thursday, so we’ll have to determine whether it makes sense for him to play one of the games, either in Prince Albert (Tuesday) or Saskatoon (Wednesday).”
Meanwhile, Rebels captain and leading goal-scorer Conner Bleackley, who suffered a ‘lower-body’ injury last Saturday in Vancouver, likely won’t dress for either of the Rebels’ weekend home games — Friday versus Lethbridge and Saturday against Prince George.
“I would say he’s questionable, at best, for the weekend,” said Sutter. “He’s still pretty sore and it’s just a matter of taking it day by day, but I don’t think he’s be available for the next two games.”