Rebels shop for defence in off season

Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin knows what he wants in Wednesday’s Canadian Hockey League import draft.

Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin knows what he wants in Wednesday’s Canadian Hockey League import draft.

“We have a line on a few guys, we have a few targeted,” Wallin said Monday.

“In a perfect world, we will get a defenceman.”

The Rebels have the 23rd overall selection in the draft and Wallin will likely make that pick around noon.

And a rearguard would be his first choice, albeit not his only choice.

“We feel we have some depth up front with the returning guys we have and some younger players will be pushing for spots,” said Wallin.

“We have two to three guys in mind for the draft, but we’ll take the best player available. In a perfect word, we’d like to get a defenceman, for sure.”

Wallin admitted that he’s attempted to trade the pick for a current, established Western Hockey League blueliner.

“We’ve explored that, but there’s not an access of older defencemen in the league right now,” he said.

With Czech netminder Patrik Bartosak scheduled to return to the club for a second season, the Rebels will pick once in the two-round draft.

Wallin was somewhat taken aback that Bartosak wasn’t selected in the NHL entry draft Friday and Saturday at Pittsburgh.

“I was surprised. A lot of (NHL) teams were really high on him and I thought he might get taken as early as the fourth round,” said the Rebels bench boss.

When two goaltenders were selected in the first round, it appeared as though an influx of netminders might be plucked in short order, Wallin noted, while adding that at times the opposite occurs.

“Sometimes when guys are taken early that can help you. Teams aren’t sure of when you might be taken so they step up on you. With other guys, it ends up hurting them and I think Patty is an example of that.”

The fact Bartosak suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in December didn’t help his cause.

“He had a great start to the season but all of a sudden you can’t play the second half and people forget about you a bit,” said Wallin.

“There’s some uncertainty about you and that’s probably what happened in his case.”

Wallin will be floored if Bartosak doesn’t receive a free-agent training camp invitation from an NHL team.

“That would be the real shock, if he didn’t get a tryout. I will be real surprised if he doesn’t get a camp invite.”

Rebels captain Adam Kambeitz attended the Phoenix Coyotes’ camp last year but Wallin is unsure of his plans for this fall. He also has no knowledge of whether pro tryouts have been extended to the likes of Charles Inglis — who is expected to join Kambeitz and Turner Elson as the Rebels’ three 20-year-olds next season — or the likes of Joel Hamilton, Marc McCoy, Brooks Maxwell, Tyson Ness, Devan Faford and Stephen Hak, all of whom were passed over in this year’s NHL draft.

Meanwhile, graduating goaltender Deven Dubyk will attend the University of Manitoba this fall and defenceman Aaron Borejko plans to enrol at NAIT. The Rebels’ other graduate, defenceman Justin Weller, will play pro in the Phoenix system.

Notes: After three seasons as GM/head coach of the Victoria Royals, Marc Habscheid is moving into an executive position with GSL Holdings Ltd., which owns the Royals. Doug Soetaert, who was fired by the Everett Silvertips in February, is thought to be a front-runner for the Royals GM position, with Cory Clouston and Kris Knoblauch possible candidates for the coaching job. Clouston was fired by the Brandon Wheat Kings and Clouston was relieved of his head coaching duties with the Kootenay Ice.

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

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