Rebels looking for the next great import

The Red Deer Rebels hit a home run in the 2011 Canadian Hockey League import draft, selecting Czech netminder Patrik Bartosak 59th overall. But that was then, this is now. And the prevailing question is: Can the club smack it out of the park once again in this year’s import draft, set for Wednesday?

The Red Deer Rebels hit a home run in the 2011 Canadian Hockey League import draft, selecting Czech netminder Patrik Bartosak 59th overall.

But that was then, this is now. And the prevailing question is: Can the club smack it out of the park once again in this year’s import draft, set for Wednesday?

With the NHL entry draft now complete and many of the players eligible for the import draft already the property of big-league clubs, the obvious fact is that they will be the prime candidates to be picked in Wednesday’s lottery.

“There are some names of interest among players who have been drafted, but everyone is kind of interested in the same players,” Rebels assistant general manager/director of player personnel Shaun Sutter said Monday. “There are guys who were picked in, say, the seventh round of the NHL draft who can be good junior players and there are guys who didn’t get picked in the NHL draft who could be real good junior players.

“And sometimes you can get a quality player with a late pick. Bartosak is a good example, as is (Montreal Canadiens’’ first-round pick) Nikita Scherbak. He was one of the late picks last year (109 overall) and obviously he’s a high-end player.

“So the import draft is a bit of a crap shoot, so to speak.”

The Rebels pick 27th and 87th Wednesday and will likely be hoping to land a defenceman and a forward. A rearguard will definitely be at the top of their list.

“We’ve been working on this for the last several weeks and it’s really heated up over the last three to five days,” said Sutter. “We’ve been doing our homework on guys for some time, but everything seems to come to the forefront fast and furious the last couple of days.

“We’d like to improve our back end, which is something we talked about at the end of last season. We’re focused on doing that, on meeting that objective, so that’s definitely a target. After that, it’s such a different animal because there’s a such a large group of teams across the CHL that we could have 68 names on our list and none of those guys could be there in the second round.

“There is no denying that there are some good players available this year, but confirming whether or not they’re coming over is another challenge. With where we’re at with our team, we need two players who are going to come over. We have some real specific needs with our team that we’re trying to address, so we’ll be trying to do that, but at the same time we’ll have to be open to the fact that if we can’t get one of those things we have to get the best player. It’s a bit of a juggling act that way.”

The Rebels almost certainly will move up from their No. 87 spot in the second round, Sutter pointed out.

“That pick could be significantly higher if teams ahead of us already have an import they want to keep and make just one pick. There’s not a lot of teams who will be seeking two players like we’re seeking to do,” he noted.

Sutter admitted that teams, for the most part, have to rely on information from agents and various scouts when picking players in the import draft, which starts at 9 a.m.

“There has to be a lot of trust in these people,” he said.

“Let’s face it, there’s not a lot of WHL teams who are scouting Europeans. It’s mostly about your contacts and using them, whether they be in Europe or with NHL teams.”

Just Posted

Red Deer garage owner finds kitten trapped under truck

Jeff Roberts, owner of Wrenchmasters AutoPro in Red Deer, brought the kitten to the SPCA

This is spring?

Central Albertans have been getting a taste of summer four weeks early

Red Deer arm wrestler steps onto big stage

World Armwrestling League’s deal with streaming service gives Matt Mask a chance to shine

Spring flooding not necessarily a sign that worse to come

Rain is the main culprit when June mountain snowmelt turns into flooding

WATCH: Red Deer walks to reduce stigma associated with schizophrenia

First annual Strides for Hope walk takes place across Alberta

Central Alberta athletes shine on the track at CASAA Zone Track and Field Championships

Lindsay Thurber Raiders athlete Hayley Lalor took the win in the senior girls individual aggregate

Businesses, project recieve award for efforts to improve Central Alberta air quality

Three organizations will be recognized for the work they have done to… Continue reading

Trudeau defends $600-million price tag for G7 summit in Quebec town of La Malbaie

LA MALBAIE, Que. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is defending the hefty… Continue reading

Weather now co-operating with evacuation of fire-threatened communities

WINNIPEG — The weather is now co-operating with efforts to evacuate some… Continue reading

Canadian auto sector observers doubt U.S. will carry through on tariff threat

Canadian auto industry observers are reacting with shock and disbelief to news… Continue reading

Bus bursts into flames on parkway; driver, passengers safe

HOLMDEL, N.J. — Authorities say a bus driver and about two dozen… Continue reading

Facebook won’t pay compensation for Cambridge Analytica case

BRUSSELS — Facebook said Thursday it will not compensate users in the… Continue reading

Five standout tracks from Shawn Mendes’ vulnerable new self-titled album

TORONTO — Shawn Mendes is slowly letting the world capture a glimpse… Continue reading

Canadians confused about GM foods, support mandatory labelling: study

HALIFAX — The vast majority of Canadians believe genetically modified foods should… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month