Red Deer Rebels general manager, head coach and owner Brent Sutter got out the ink and signed eight young hockey players to the club.
Five of the eight prospects who signed deals were selected by the Rebels in the 2016 Western Hockey League Bantam draft. The five were the Rebels’ first five choices in the draft held on May 5 in Calgary.
Goalie Byron Fancy, taken 24th overall in the second round, and his Lethbridge Bantam AAA Golden Hawks teammate, defenceman Nicholas Draffin, taken 46th overall in the third round, were among those signed. Fancy, six foot 168 pounds, started 18 Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League games for the Golden Hawks and finished with a 1.49 goals against average and a 0.908 save percentage.
In the playoffs he started nine games and finished with a 1.74 goals against average and a 0.921 save percentage, backstopping the Golden Hawks to a provincial championship and a bronze medal at the Western Canadian Championships.
Draffin, six-foot-one 185 pounds, had two goals and 26 assists in 36 games and in the playoffs had one goal and eight assists in 12 games.
The Rebels also signed their third round, 48th overall pick forward Justin Svenson of Il Des Chenes, Man.; fourth round, 74th overall, forward River Fahey of Campbell River, B.C.; and fifth round, 101st overall, defenceman and Ryan Gottfried of Winnipeg, Man.
Those five, born in 2001, are ineligible to play full-time this season, but will have the chance to compete for a roster spot in the 2017-18 season.
Three other signings are eligible to play in the coming WHL season, as they were born in 1999.
They include 2014 WHL Bantam Draft eighth round pick, 163rd overall, forward Brayden Labant. The five-foot-11, 179-pound St. Paul native played in 34 games for the Fort Saskatchewan Midget AAA Rangers of the Alberta AAA Midget Hockey League in 2015-16. He scored 13 goals and 14 assists in 34 games.
Also signed were Quinn Martin, a forward from Santa Fe, N.M., and defenceman Zach Wytinck from Glebnoro, Man. Martin attended the Rebels’ prospect camp earlier this month. He played the 2015-16 season with the Colorado Thunderbirds U16 team in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League. He had six goals and 13 assists in 32 games.
Wytinck played with the Southwest Cougars in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League. He finished with a goal and four assists in 44 regular season games.