A mixture of bantam draft picks and list players will be evaluated by the Red Deer Rebels scouting staff Friday to Sunday at the Penhold Multiplex.
The Rebels 2012 spring prospects camp will feature 22 skaters and three goaltenders and will open with an on-ice session from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday.
“It gives us a chance to chart the progress of the kids who were at this camp a year ago, to see how they have grown and progressed,” Rebels general manager/head coach Jesse Wallin said Wednesday.
“And of course there are the new kids who have just been drafted. It’s our first opportunity to see them. You can put some faces to names. You’ve heard about them and now you finally get to see them on the ice.”
Of the players attending the camp, 18 were selected in the 2011 and 2012 Western Hockey League bantam draft, including this year’s first-round pick — Adam Musil of Burnaby, B.C.
The seven listed players are forwards Brett Smythe, Cole Chorney, Lynnden Pastachak and Anthony Orubor, and defencemen Tanner Reynolds and Matthew Benko — all of whom have 1996 birth dates — and ‘95-born netminder Matt Mitchell.
The Rebels coaching staff — including assistants Bryce Thoma and Chris Neiszner and goaltending tutor Brent Belecki — are familiar with 2011 draft picks forward Conner Bleackley and rearguard Haydn Fleury, who played regular-season games with the big club last season. And six other selections from last year’s draft were at the 2011 prospects camp.
Each year several players stand out during the spring camp, some unexpectedly.
“Size is usually the biggest thing, that physical maturity is what you notice,” said Wallin.
“Some of these kids can really make a big jump in their growth and maturity over the course of a year. That’s always nice to see and is definitely a bonus when it exceeds your expectations.”
The players attending this year’s camp will be accompanied by their parents, who will meet the Rebels coaches and staff members and generally be introduced to the city, specifically Hunting Hills high school and the Centrium.
“It’s more or less an orientation for the parents and players, to get them familiarized with our program, what we have to offer . . . and really give them an idea of what life is like as a Red Deer Rebel,” said Wallin.
“They’ll get an overview of the education process, where they will go to school (Hunting Hills) and what the Sports Excellence program at the school entails. They will meet our education advisors and get a head start on transferring schools and what that’s going to look like. In general, they’ll get a feel and an understanding of what it’s like to play at this level, particularly in Red Deer.”
The spring camp will continue Saturday with a 3:45 to 5:45 p.m. session and conclude Sunday with a two-hour session starting at 9 a.m.
• Swedish forward John Persson made a positive impression while playing with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL following the conclusion of the Rebels’ season and this week signed a three-year contract with the parent New York Islanders, who selected him in the 2011 NHL entry draft.
“Good for him,” said Wallin. “He went up to the AHL and played real well. The Islanders were really impressed with him.”
Persson, who turned 20 May 18, will be given every opportunity to play pro hockey next season although he’s eligible to return to the Rebels.
“He’s taken the first step. Now that he’s signed it gives him the opportunity to play at the next level next year,” said Wallin. “But it’s still up to him to take that next step and we’ll see where the chips fall.”
Following are the Rebels spring camp rosters (including year of birth and hometown):
Goal — Matt Mitchell (‘95, Calgary)
Defence — Haydn Fleury (‘96, Carlyle, Sask.); Alexander Winters (‘97, Kamloops); Tanner Reynolds (‘96, Calgary); Bo Hanson (‘97, Boise, Idaho).
Forwards — Adam Musil (‘97, Burnaby, B.C.); Meyer Nell (‘97, Boissevain, Man.); Rod Southam (‘96, Saskatoon); Brett Smythe (‘96, St. Albert); Earl Webb (‘96, Calgary); Mason McCarty (‘97, Blackie); Cole Chorney (96, Beaumont).
Goal — Grant Naherniak (‘96, Moose Jaw); Taz Burman (‘97, Vancouver).
Defence — Vukie Mpofu (‘96, Saskatoon); Matthew Benko (‘96, Edmonton); Jake MacLachlan (‘96, Fernie, B.C.); Austin Strand (‘97, Calgary).
Forwards — Conner Bleackley (‘96, High River); Grayson Pawlenchuk (‘97; Ardrossan); Daniel Nault (‘97, Penticton); Lynnden Pastachak (‘96, Bienfait, Sask.); Anthony Orubor (‘96, Calgary); Brayden Burke (‘97, Edmonton); Chase Thudium (‘96, Sylvan Lake).