In the end, Jack McClelland’s age and lack of top-end talent caught up to him in his quest to earn a roster berth with the Red Deer Rebels.
McClelland was released Wednesday by Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, who didn’t see any way the rugged 19-year-old winger could help his club this season.
“It’s tough being a 19-year-old and being a 14th forward. It didn’t make a lot of sense, for him or for us,” Sutter said Thursday. “He flew back home (to Wichita, Kan). He was talking about going to school.”
The six-foot-two, 207-pound McClelland played in all five Rebels preseason games, scoring once and picking up four minutes in penalties. He was minus-1 in the plus/minus department.
“We gave him a chance, we gave him an opportunity,” said Sutter. “He played in every exhibition game so we (coaching staff) could fully assess his play. In the end, that (14th forward) is where he fit on our depth chart.”
Meanwhile, Adam Musil arrived back from the St. Louis Blues training camp Thursday and fellow Rebels forward Michael Spacek was returned by the Winnipeg Jets later in the day.
Nelson Nogier, who played 15 minutes and 32 seconds on the Jets blueline in Wednesday’s 3-2 NHL preseason loss at Edmonton, will be back with the Rebels as early as Saturday and as late as Monday or Tuesday. The Jets’ prospect delivered two hits and blocked two shots at Edmonton.
“We’re told that he played really well last night in Edmonton,” said Sutter. “They (Jets) want to give him another game, but they’re not sure whether that will be Friday or Sunday. If he plays Friday he might be back for us Saturday or Sunday. If he plays Sunday he won’t be back until next week.”
The Rebels boss has heard nothing regarding the status of forward Conner Bleackley (Colorado) and defenceman Haydn Fleury (Carolina).
Bleackley scored once as the Avalanche downed the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 in NHL preseason play Tuesday. He had three shots on goal and was credited with one hit during his 11 minutes of ice time.
Fleury, meanwhile, was minus-2 with one shot on goal, two hits and one blocked shot Monday as the Hurricanes were blanked 2-0 by Washington.
The Rebels open their WHL regular season Saturday at 7 p.m. against the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. The clubs meet again Sunday at 4 p.m. at Rexall Place in Edmonton.