Rebels get grit and offence in swap with ‘Canes

Grit and offence. Riley Sheen brings both as the newest member of the Red Deer Rebels. “He gives us some more punch up front and he plays a greasy game too,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, who on Monday acquired Sheen, a 20-year-old winger, from the struggling Lethbridge Hurricanes in return for overage forward/defenceman Devan Fafard and 17-year-old centre Brayden Burke.

Grit and offence.

Riley Sheen brings both as the newest member of the Red Deer Rebels.

“He gives us some more punch up front and he plays a greasy game too,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, who on Monday acquired Sheen, a 20-year-old winger, from the struggling Lethbridge Hurricanes in return for overage forward/defenceman Devan Fafard and 17-year-old centre Brayden Burke.

“He’s a hard player to play against. After I made the trade, some of our players said they didn’t like playing against him.”

Sheen, an Edmonton native, played four games with Medicine Hat as a 16-year-old and 46 games with the Tigers the following season. He was dealt to the Seattle Thunderbirds in 2012 and put up 13 goals and 40 points that season, then was traded to the Hurricanes during the 2013-14 campaign.

Sheen registered 16 goals and 41 points in 49 games with Lethbridge last winter and has 23 points (3-20) in 27 games this season. He was the ‘Canes’ leading scorer when he was dealt Monday.

The five-foot-11, 166-pound forward has produced 36 goals and 115 points in 209 WHL regular-season games and two goals and six points in 15 playoff contests.

“This kid can give us offence,” said Sutter. “He’s a top-nine forward and he can play any one of the forward positions. At the end of the day we’ve added to our team in a different way. We’ve added more offence and someone who, although he’s not an overly big guy, plays big.

“He’s a play-hard guy with skill and he can really skate.”

Parting with the hard-nosed Fafard, who’s been with the Rebels since 2011 and was converted from a defenceman to a fourth-line forward this season, was difficult, Sutter admitted.

“The tough thing with ‘Faf’. . . the hard thing about this trade from our perspective is that we’re trading a great guy with tremendous character. He’s been a really good team guy,” said the Rebels bench boss.

“But with where we’re at with our back end, he wasn’t able to play his natural position. We had him playing both left wing and right wing. He did fine with that but it wasn’t something he was comfortable with. He’s disappointed to be leaving but he understood the situation and he realizes that he has a chance now to play his normal position. His role here was limited and this is a chance for him to play a bigger role.”

Fafard is currently out with an upper body injury and his return date is uncertain.

Burke, selected by the Rebels in the seventh round of the 2012 WHL bantam draft, played two games with the Rebels last season and appeared in one game with the club this fall before suffering a leg injury that will keep him sidelined another two to three weeks.

The five-foot-10, 155-pound centre had 19 goals and 47 points in 31 games with his midget AAA club in Edmonton last winter. But Sutter didn’t see him earning full-time employment with the Rebels this season or even next.

“With Burke, he’s a 17-year-old who if he’s going to play in the league he has to be a top-nine guy, and with our depth up front he wasn’t going to play that here this year and there’s a chance he wasn’t going to next year,” said Sutter.

“Lethbridge wants to get a bit younger and Burke can add to that.”

The Rebels also received a conditional bantam draft pick in the deal. The pick will depend on Burke’s performance with the ‘Canes.

“Basically this is a trade that’s a win-win for everyone,” said Sutter. “Riley comes here and gets a chance to play on a different type of team in a different environment and the other kids go there (Lethbridge) and have a chance to play.

“Riley is very excited about coming here.”

Sheen will be in the Rebels’ lineup when the Calgary Hitmen visit the Centrium tonight.

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