Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter is confident that he didn’t lose any offence but gained a measure of sandpaper when he sent Matt Bellerive to the Kamloops Blazers Thursday in return for Aspen Sterzer in an exchange of 19-year-old forwards.
“Sterzer plays with a lot of fire and he has 17 goals this season. He just plays a little different game than ‘Belly’,” said Sutter, who earlier in the day sent 19-year-old Czech forward Dominik Volek to the Vancouver Giants in return for a fourth-round pick in the 2015 WHL bantam draft and a third-round selection in 2016.
“Sterzer brings some of that greasiness we needed to add to our lineup. He’s had a really good year in Kamloops and they didn’t want to move him.”
Sutter, however, added a third-round pick in this year’s bantam draft to seal the deal.
Sterzer, a native of Canal Flats, B.C., has 17 goals and 32 points in 40 games this season. Bellerive potted nine goals and collected 22 points in 31 outings during his second season with the Rebels.
Volek, who flew into Regina Wednesday after playing for the Czech Republic in the world junior championship, was deemed expendable due to the emergence of the Rebels’ younger forwards.
“We knew we would have to go through some bumps with the younger guys, but these kids have really grown through the first half of the season,” said Sutter. “They’ve continued to get better and a lot of the players who have been producing offensively in recent weeks have been our younger guys.
“It was a situation where we didn’t know where Dom was going to fit into our top nine forwards with guys like (Grayson) Pawlenchuk and (Adam) Musil back in the lineup, getting (Presten) Kopeck into the lineup and the way Vukie (Mpofu) and (Evan) Polei have been playing.
“Plus we have guys like (Cole) Chorney and (Scott) Feser who are at least a year younger than (Volek) and they’re going to be in the picture here moving forward. We knew Dom wasn’t going to be back next year so it just made sense for us to obtain some assets.”
The trade deadline is at 3 p.m. today and Sutter didn’t rule out the possibility of making another trade or two.
“If there’s something that I think can help us, not just now, but in the future, we’d certainly look at it,” said Sutter. “We went into today with the mindset that we would look at moving some of our 19-year-olds, and that’s what we’ve done.
“We brought back another 19-year-old but he’s a different type of player and the type of player our younger guys can look up to. We have to be a harder team to play against.”
Sterzer is expected to join the Rebels for tonight’s road game against the Moose Jaw Warriors. The Rebels will conclude their four-game road trip Saturday versus the Swift Current Broncos.
Red Deer’s next home game is Jan. 17 versus the Calgary Hitmen.