Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff

Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff

Rebels have tough decisions ahead

In the aftermath of building a roster to win in 2016, the Red Deer Rebels have some important pieces coming back. Change is a constant in junior hockey, but Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter pointed out that there are a number of forwards returning into the lineup.

In the aftermath of building a roster to win in 2016, the Red Deer Rebels have some important pieces coming back.

Change is a constant in junior hockey, but Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter pointed out that there are a number of forwards returning into the lineup.

“It’s just the way it works,” said Sutter. “We’re going to have six or seven new players in our lineup. That being said 10 of our 14 forwards are coming back. We have a chance to have a 20-year-old goaltender coming back.”

A certain headache will be which three overage players they choose to keep goalies Rylan Toth and Trevor Martin as well as defenceman Colton Bobyk and forwards Conner Bleackley, Evan Polei and Ivan Nikolishin are all eligible to return.

But those decisions won’t have to be made until October.

Forward Jake DeBrusk and defencemen Haydn Fleury and Nelson Nogier could qualify as overagers, but all have signed entry-level contracts and are likely to take the next step in their development and move on to their professional organizations. DeBrusk to the Bruins, Fleury to the Hurricanes and Nogier to the Jets.

Dawson Weatherill, 17, saw some action late in the season and will be in the mix to backup the starting goaltender.

Centre Adam Musil, 19, who played big in the Memorial Cup and has scored big goals throughout the season and playoffs, is on track to be the team’s top centre next year.

Brandon Hagel, 18, Braden Purtill, 19, Grayson Pawlenchuk, 19, and Jeff de Witt, 18, were all regulars in the Rebels lineup throughout the season.

Joining them could be Taden Rattie, 18, Akash Bains, 17 and Reese Johnson, 18, who saw limited work often as healthy scratches down the stretch.

Questions linger on whether or not Nikolishin, Russia, or 19-year-old Michael Spacek, Czech Republic, could return as the team’s import players.

“We feel good about our young defenceman. We think they’re going to be good players,” said Sutter.

A core group of blueliners could also return as Josh Mahura, 18, and Austin Strand, 19, lead the pack and could be joined by Bobyk, who hasn’t been drafted by an NHL team. Austin Shmoorkoff played 64 regular season games and at 19 has at least one more season in the WHL.

Two late season callups also have a chance to crack the Rebels blueline as both Ethan Sakowich, 17, and Carson Sass, 17, saw some playing time late in the season. The 17-year-olds could fill in the gaps left by the departing veterans. As well, Rebels 2015 WHL Bantam draft first round pick Jacob Herauf, 16, (16th overall) is eligible and was one of 27 players at the 2016 Rebels Prospect Camp.

Sutter isn’t too worried about a Memorial Cup hangover. Trading for DeBrusk, Adam Helewka and Luke Philp at the deadline involved moving some younger pieces and draft picks.

“I’m not too worried about that,” said Sutter. “The trades we did make, we knew we had to make them and yet, they were made because we knew we had enough depth to build and move on afterwards. We’re still going to have a lot of good players coming back into our lineup.

“We’re going to have a pretty competitive hockey team next year.”

In fact, Sutter sees the younger player’s Memorial Cup experience as a benefit to the team next year.

“They’ve all had a taste of it and they see how much of a commitment, how good of a team they have to be,” said Sutter. “Hopefully it motivates them to get better and we’ll be a better team for it.”

Rebels

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People board and leave at the Century Park light-rail transit station in Edmonton on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Racism is a real problem:’ Growing number of attacks against Black Muslim women

‘Racism is a real problem:’ Growing number of attacks against Black Muslim women

Alberta Health Services declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Revera Aspen Ridge on Feb. 1. (Photo by Advocate staff)
Two COVID deaths linked to Revera seniors residence in Red Deer

35 active COVID cases at seniors residence

Red Deer musician Lorry Boschman has written a song about love in the time of COVID-19. Proceeds from his single, Romance during a Pandemic, will be donated to the local United Way. (Contributed photo).
Local musician records a song about love in the time of COVID-19 — for charity

Lorry Boschman will donate some proceeds to the United Way

Preliminary data shows Alberta’s suicide rate declined in 2020 — but some mental health critics say it’s too early to draw any conclusions since more dire pandemic impacts are only now being felt. (metrocreative stock)
Alberta’s suicide rate seems to have declined in 2020

But some experts say it’s too early to credit the pandemic

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre can accommodate up to 20 patients requiring a ventilator, says Alberta Health Services.  File photo by Advocate staff
Opinion: UCP government reneging on Red Deer hospital funding

Another year, another Alberta budget and another blow to central Albertans. Budget… Continue reading

Seattle Storm guards Sue Bird, right, and Jordin Canada pose for photos Wednesday, March 3, 2021, on the roof of the Space Needle in Seattle after they raised a flag with the team's new logo on it. Bird re-signed with the Storm earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Lille players celebrate after Jonathan David scored his side's second goal during the French League One soccer match between Lille and Marseille at the Stade Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

Canada defender Shelina Zadorsky, right, passes the ball in front of Argentina forward Sole Jaimes (9) during the second half of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. Alphonso Davies and Shelina Zadorsky have been named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Phelan M. Ebenhack
Davies, Zadorsky named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February

Davies, Zadorsky named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February

Manchester United's Fred, left, and Crystal Palace's Jordan Ayew challenge for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United at Selhurst Park stadium in London, England, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (Mike Hewitt/Pool via AP)
Grueling season starting to catch up with Man U, Leicester

Grueling season starting to catch up with Man U, Leicester

Gary Sanchez goes deep, Yankees hit three home runs to beat Blue Jays 4-1

Gary Sanchez goes deep, Yankees hit three home runs to beat Blue Jays 4-1

Toronto Raptors guard Norman Powell (24) dunks as Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The undermanned Toronto Raptors, down five players and six members of their coaching staff due to health and safety protocols, are scheduled to host the Detroit Pistons in their first action since last Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Carlos Osorio
Powell, Lowry do their bit but undermanned Raptors beaten handily by the Pistons

Powell, Lowry do their bit but undermanned Raptors beaten handily by the Pistons

Canada's Ghislaine Landry, left, runs past France players during the Women's Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco, Friday, July 20, 2018. The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, grounded last year by the pandemic, will return for the women in May. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jeff Chiu
World Rugby unveils condensed 2021 sevens schedule with Vancouver a question-mark

World Rugby unveils condensed 2021 sevens schedule with Vancouver a question-mark

Most Read