Call him an low-risk insurance policy with the potential to produce a nifty return.
Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brett Sutter acquired Slovak forward Filip Vasko from the Kelowna Rockets on Thursday in exchange for a conditional sixth-round selection in the 2013 WHL bantam draft. The Rockets will receive the pick only if Vasko is still with the Rebels on Jan. 10.
“We were down to 12 forwards with the injury to Jesse Miller (upper body, indefinite),” said Sutter. “We had a chance to acquire a forward who has 10 points in 19 games this season and was playing on Kelowna’s third line.
“He’s a kid who has some skill and the trade was made on a conditional basis. It was a no-brainer to go through with it and see what happens.”
Vasko played 51 games with the Rockets last season with no goals and 12 assists. While he hasn’t been a big-time offence producer, he has three goals and seven helpers to his credit this season and is an effective penalty killer.
“With Miller out we were missing a guy in that area,” said Sutter. “We just felt that he (Vasko) gives us something in our lineup that we were missing. We’re down in numbers and we’re missing a penalty killer.”
The fact that he has put up 10 points this season in a limited role indicated to Sutter that Vasko, who will celebrate his 19th birthday on Dec. 10, might be capable of producing better numbers in a more prominent role.
At the very least . . .
“He has the potential to play in our top nine forwards and his presence keeps the competition level where it should be,” said Sutter.
Vasko, who practised with his new teammates on Thursday, admitted that he wasn’t overly surprised when informed of the trade.
“Maybe a little bit, but I was kind of expecting it,” he said. “We had a lot of guys over there, I think seven extra guys. So, yeah, I was kind of expecting that.
“But I’m happy, I think it’s a great opportunity for me to be here. I just want some ice time, which I didn’t get the last few games in Kelowna. That’s most important for me right now.”
Vasko agreed with the assessment that he’s a more-than-capable penalty killer.
“But I’m also a pretty fast guy. I can maybe bring some speed and quick hands (to the Rebels). Those are my assets,” he said.
He’s also of the opinion that extra ice time will result in more points.
“I hope it’s going to be good that way for me here,” he said. “Fore sure, I would like to be good offensively and get some points.”
Vasko is expected to be in the Red Deer lineup for tonight’s 7:30 p.m. meeting with the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers and a home-ice engagement with the Saskatoon Blades 24 hours later.