Rebels happy to land Musil at WHL draft

Randy Peterson isn’t convinced that the Seattle Thunderbirds got the best player in Thursday’s Western Hockey League bantam draft at Calgary.

Randy Peterson isn’t convinced that the Seattle Thunderbirds got the best player in Thursday’s Western Hockey League bantam draft at Calgary.

The Red Deer Rebels director of scouting/player development feels that he and senior scout Shaun Sutter might have snagged the top overall talent in the annual lottery with the club’s selection of budding power forward Adam Musil of Burnaby, B.C.

“We believe that you build your team down the middle and Adam has the bloodlines, the size and ability,” said Peterson, who picked Musil, a centre, sixth overall, five down the board from Musil’s Burnaby Winter Club Bruins teammate Mathew Barzal, who was taken first overall by the T-Birds.

“Arguably, Adam could have been the best overall player in the draft, certainly a player who’s as physically ready as anyone in this draft to play in our league right now. He’s a unique talent, a big powerful center with a rare combination of size and skill. He has really good hands, he goes hard to the net and he can make plays.”

The six-foot-one, 170-pound son of former NHL defenceman Frank Musil sniped 58 goals and garnered 98 points in 60 games with the Bruins. He scored six goals in five games as the BWC squad won the Western Canada bantam championship.

“At the B.C. provincials we felt he dominated in the final. He played very well in the big games all season,” said Peterson.

“He seemed to be at his best through different types of adversity.”

Quite simply, the Rebels did not expect Musil — a nephew of former NHL forward Bobby Holik — to be available at No. 6.

“We had him ranked certainly higher than sixth. We had some top-end players ranked among the first three and he was one of them,” said Peterson. “We feel very fortunate to get him.”

Musil almost certainly would have been chosen earlier but there were concerns that he wanted to play closer to home, that he wasn’t interested in playing in the Eastern Conference.

“There was talk that there were certain places he didn’t want to go,” said Peterson, who confirmed that Musil will indeed be joining the Rebels. “We got lucky and this shows that we’re one of the flagship franchises in the league. Our record in developing pros also helped. The fact we put Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and other players in the NHL over the years definitely played a factor in the family’s decision to have their son come to Red Deer.”

Reached on his cellphone, Musil confirmed that Red Deer was one of the few Eastern Conference franchises that held some attraction. He also confirmed that he has a long memory.

“I’m very excited. I really enjoyed living in Alberta and I wanted a change,” he said.

“I lived in Edmonton (while Frank played with the Oilers) when I was very young and I remember it a little bit.

“My agent, Rich Winter, lived there too and he really enjoyed it. He grew up in the province and my parents have friends in Edmonton and Calgary, so Red Deer is a great spot to be in.”

After Seattle took Barzal, the next four picks prior to Musil were centre Jansen Harkins (Prince George), defenceman Brendan Guhle (Prince Albert), centre Giorgio Estephan (Lethbridge) and centre Glenn Gawdin (Swift Current). It’s highly conceivable that one or more of those teams coveted Musil but knew he wouldn’t report.

“Some teams I didn’t want to come to, but Red Deer was fine to me,” said Musil, who spent several of his formative years in the Czech Republic, his father’s home country.

Musil, who says he tries to be a “smart, two-way forward” will attend the Rebels spring prospects camp June 1-3 in Penhold despite nursing a broken thumb he suffered at the western Canada bantam championship.

With the Rebels’ second-round pick — 30th overall — they grabbed goaltender Taz Burman of the Vancouver North Shore Winter Club, a five-foot-11, 150-pound stopper who posted a 1.59 goals-against average, a .921 save percentage and a 23-6-0 record during the 2011-12 season.

He also excelled at two major tournaments — the Kamloops International and Medicine Hat, where he was named top goaltender.

“He was a key performer for his club in both of those events,” said Peterson. “He’s a very athletic goalie, very poised.”

Burman is also an accomplished baseball player.

“And sometimes that can translate into a (hockey) player with quick feet and good hands. He’s certainly an athlete,” said Peterson.

Peterson and Sutter focused on landing a netminder early in the draft and couldn’t pass on Burman.

“We wanted to get one of three guys, Nick McBride (drafted 23rd overall by Prince Albert), Travis Child (29th to Swift Current) or Taz,” said Peterson. “We feel that he has great potential to fill one of the most important positions on our team. He and Adam will be two key players for our team down the road.”

The players selected in this year’s WHL bantam draft can only play five regular season games in the upcoming 2012-13 season. They will be permitted to play in the WHL once their midget teams’ seasons are over.

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

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