Rebels make little noise at WHL trade deadline

There was nothing surprising about the fact that it was a light Western Hockey League trade deadline for the Red Deer Rebels Sunday. After all, GM/head coach Brent Sutter had already done his heavy lifting, adding winger Taden Rattie and elite forwards Jake DeBrusk, Adam Helewka and Luke Philp in the days leading into the deadline.

There was nothing surprising about the fact that it was a light Western Hockey League trade deadline for the Red Deer Rebels Sunday.

After all, GM/head coach Brent Sutter had already done his heavy lifting, adding winger Taden Rattie and elite forwards Jake DeBrusk, Adam Helewka and Luke Philp in the days leading into the deadline.

Red Deer’s lone move at the deadline? Sending utility forward Austin Adamson to the Swift Current Broncs in exchange for an eighth-round pick in the 2017 WHL bantam draft.

“I wasn’t expecting that anything else would come up,” said Sutter. “If we could have added a bit of depth on our back end I would have done it, but there was just nothing there that made sense.”

The Rebels boss either found that the price for a depth rearguard was too steep, or that there was no one available that was much of an upgrade on any of the current defenders.

“There’s not a lot of top-end defencemen out there and it’s the same way with forwards and goaltenders,” said Sutter. “Around the league, it is what it is.”

If Sutter was attempting to track down a goaltender, clearly there were none who were significantly better than current Rebels stoppers Ryan Toth and Trevor Martin, at least not for a fair price.

“I wasn’t out today looking for a forward,” said Sutter. “We felt we already added to our team with the talent we picked up recently.”

Sutter also wanted to hang onto his 2016 first-round bantam draft pick and he wasn’t prepared to move another top prospect after losing 15-year-old forward Eli Zummack to Spokane in the trade for Helewka.

“I wasn’t moving any of our other young prospects,” said Sutter, referring to forward Brendan Budy and defencemen Carson Sass, Ethan Sakowich, Jacob Herauf and Jace Foskey, all of whom are expected to compete for full-time employment with the Rebels next season.

Nothing made sense except dealing Adamson to the Broncos.

“We just felt that we’d be better off with moving Austin,” said Sutter. “He’s a 19-year-old who still wants to play in the league. We didn’t think he’d be very happy with not playing much here.

“We figured we’d give him an opportunity somewhere else in the league. Swift Current is short of bodies and needed forwards, so it worked out. They didn’t have to pay a lot to get him and at the same time it gives Austin an opportunity to play and it helps Swift Current with having enough bodies because they’ve been struggling with injuries.”

• Rebels defenceman Haydn Fleury left after the first period of Saturday’s game versus the Vancouver Giants and didn’t return.

He’s not expected to be out for a lengthy period, said Sutter.

“As of today, everything is fine. We have one more test to do Monday, but we’re not expecting anything to change,” said Sutter.

“We think he’s going to be fine. At this point in time, the thinking is it might have been a muscle thing or a rib-type of injury.”

Meanwhile, forward Evan Polei sat out Saturday’s contest due to a looming suspension for a knee-on-knee hit on Lethbridge player Ryley Lindgren Friday.

The Rebels are expected to learn today how long Polei will be forced to sit out, with the length of the suspension likely decided by the severity of the injury to Lindgren.

• In Sunday’s lone move of major relevance, the Regina Pats picked up overage forward Cole Sanford from the Medicine Hat Tigers in return for ‘99-born forward Gary Haden, overage forward Brian Williams and three bantam draft picks — a third this year, a fifth in 2017 and a seventh in 2018.

The Calgary Hitmen, meanwhile, dealt forward and Rocky Mountain House native Layne Bensmiller, 18, and defenceman Loch Morrison, 18, to the Prince Albert Raiders in exchange for forward Matteo Gennaro, 18, defenceman Ty Prefontaine, 16, and a sixth-round pick this year.


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