The Red Deer Rebels had one player coming and one going Thursday, both of whom were members of the 2012 Telus Cup champion Red Deer Optimist Rebels Chiefs.
The Rebels acquired defenceman Kolton Dixon, 18, of Red Deer from the Victoria Royals for a conditional WHL bantam draft pick and bid adieu to Scott Feser, another Red Deer product, reassigning the 18-year-old forward to the Camrose Kodiaks of the AJHL.
The six-foot-four, 185-pound Dixon played with both the Royals (39 games) and the AJHL Okotoks Oilers (13 games) last season. Brent Sutter expects him to play a significant role with the Rebels, who host the Regina Pats tonight.
“It’s a situation where we’re trying to upgrade our team and we felt we needed to continue to develop our younger kids while upgrading our back end,” said the Rebels general manager/head coach. “We’re adding depth to our team with a guy we feel can step in and be a top-five defenceman for us and push our top four guys. He’s raw, but he’s tough and he’s a great skater. He’s an upgrade to our team.”
The conditional draft pick owed to the Royals will depend on whether Dixon is still with the Rebels at a certain point of the season.
Dixon picked up two assists and 47 penalty minutes with the Royals last winter and had two goals and three points — as well as 60 PIMs — with Okotoks.
Meanwhile, Feser became a numbers victim as both his age and the Rebels’ depth up front worked against him. He sat out both of Red Deer’s season-opening wins over the Kootenay Ice last week and wasn’t tickled with the notion of being a part-time player.
“Scott and I have had discussions over the past week,” said Sutter, who described Feser as someone who could serve as anywhere from a 10th to 14th forward with the Rebels.
“It’s always hard for players to accept certain roles and on our team and this is the role he was going to have . . . there would be nights he’d be in the lineup and play significant minutes and there would be nights he would not be dressed,” he continued.
“We have 16- and 17-year-old players who have pushed ahead of him right now. We won both of our first two regular season games with our younger kids playing well and we weren’t going to take them out.”
Sutter tried to find Feser a spot with another WHL team, but had no success.
“This has nothing to do with Scotty. He’s a great kid but it came down to him just not being happy in his role,” said Sutter. “He wanted to play and I tried to do what I could within our league, but right now the interest isn’t there.
“Now he can go to Camrose and play a significant role with that team and I support that.”
Feser played nine games with the Rebels as a 16-year-old in 2011-12, recording two assists, and split last season between the Rebels and the Kodiaks.
He had a goal and five helpers in 31 games with Red Deer and put up 17 points (7-10) in 23 AJHL games.
Feser will stay on the Rebels’ 50-man protected list and could be recalled at any point this season.