The return wasn’t overwhelming by any stretch of the imagination, but considering the Red Deer Rebels has no use for their 34th overall pick in Tuesday’s Canadian Hockey League import draft, it was just.
Satisfied with the two imports — forwards John Persson and Andrej Kudrna — already committed to his club for the 2010-11 Western Hockey League season, vice-president of hockey operations/head coach Jesse Wallin dealt his first-round selection in the import draft to the Seattle Thunderbirds in return for a fourth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft.
“It’s an asset for the future. We got some value for our pick and I think it’s fair value,” said Wallin.
It’s unlikely the Rebels would have netted a proven goal-scorer such as the 19-year-old Kudrna — who potted 30 last season after coming over from the Vancouver Giants — in the import draft, and in Persson the team has a large and physical force who just celebrated his 18th birthday.
“We already have two guys we’re happy with,” said Wallin. “John was a young guy last year. He’s a great kid who’s very committed to our program and we think he can take a big step this year.”
Persson, a six-foot-two, 190-pound winger from Sweden, showed a willingness to take the body and go to the net as a WHL rookie. He scored seven goals and added four assists in 62 games while improving from month to month.
“I thought there was a considerable difference in him when he came back after Christmas,” said Wallin. “From the first half to the second half of the season he had a lot to adjust to both on and off the ice. I thought he took big a jump in his play after Christmas and started to play with some confidence.
“He’s a guy who’s built to play a North-American style, so I have high expectations for him this year. I think he can become a real good player for us. He’s a great teammate. The guys in the room love him and he fits in really well.”
Kudrna, 19, was passed over in each of the last two NHL entry drafts as a member of the Giants and Rebels, but the Slovakian winger has garnered an NHL free-agent tryout with Phoenix and will attend the Coyotes training camp in September before rejoining the Rebels.
“There’s not a lot of depth in the import draft this year and it seems to get a little thinner each year,” said Wallin. “The top-end kids aren’t coming over as often. With Andrej, we have a guy who scored 30 goals for us last season and we certainly weren’t going to get a player of the calibre where we were picking in the import draft.
“All things considered, we’re pretty happy with the two guys we’ve got.”
With the 34th pick, the Thunderbirds nabbed six-foot-four defenceman Dave Sutter from Switzerland.
The Prince George Cougars had the first overall selection in the import draft and grabbed Slovakian defenceman Martin Marincin, who was taken by the Edmonton Oilers in the second round of last weekend’s NHL entry draft.
• The Prince Albert Raiders picked up Danish centre Sebastian Svendsen, 19, and a third-round pick in the 2011 WHL bantam draft in a Monday trade, sending 20-year-old centre Jordan Hickmott to the Edmonton Oil Kings in exchange.
Svendsen split last season between the Oil Kings and the Vancouver Giants.