Rebels take risk at import draft

Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter landed a probable impact forward in Tuesday’s CHL import draft, but Michael Spacek may never leave his mark with the Western Hockey League club. Spacek is still under contract to his Czech Extraliga team — HC Dynamo Pardubice — for the 2015-16 season, but Sutter decided the risk was worth the potential reward when he took Spacek with his first-round pick, 47th overall.

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Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter landed a probable impact forward in Tuesday’s CHL import draft, but Michael Spacek may never leave his mark with the Western Hockey League club.

Spacek is still under contract to his Czech Extraliga team — HC Dynamo Pardubice — for the 2015-16 season, but Sutter decided the risk was worth the potential reward when he took Spacek with his first-round pick, 47th overall.

“We were in a position where we had a list of guys and he was certainly near or at the top of that list,” Sutter said Tuesday. “But he’s under contract over there and we have to wait and see how his agency (Newport Sports) works that out with his team so we can get him over here to play.”

The Rebels boss wasn’t interested in drafting a ‘B-level’ player. With his club hosting the 2016 Memorial Cup tournament, he was looking for a dynamic, top-six forward.

“With our pick we wanted to get a top-end player. We swung for the fence and we’ll see what happens,” he said.

After scoring five goals and adding seven assists in 12 games as a 17-year-old with HC Dynamo last season, Spacek, a five-foot-11, 187-pound winger, was selected by the Winnipeg Jets in Saturday’s fourth round of the NHL entry draft. Spacek, who turned 18 in April, has also represented his country in the world junior championship and world under-18 championship.

“He’s a good player. Any reports we got on him is he’s that obviously a grade-A player,” said Sutter. “We said all along that we wanted to get a player like that, but we were taking a chance that he might not come, too. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

The Czech Extraliga is ranked as the third-highest league in Europe. HC Dynamo’s 2014-15 roster included former Washington Capitals forward Petr Sykora, who led Pardubice in goals with 26.

Sutter admitted he has no idea if the odds of Spacek attending training camp are in the Rebels’ favour.

“His agency didn’t indicate to me if they’re hopeful of getting something done. They didn’t tip their hand one way or the other,” he said. “They would like to see the kid play over here but they have to work it out with his club team.

“They have all summer to work on it and obviously they’ll keep me updated. He’s a very good player. If we get him, he’ll fit in very nicely among our top six (forwards). We’ll see how it goes.”

Due to the May acquisition of Russian forward Ivan Nikolishin from the Everett Silvertips, the Rebels didn’t make a second-round selection in the import draft.

• One day after being released by the Rebels, Slovakian defenceman Mario Grman was selected by the Kootenay Ice in the second round — 95th overall — of the import draft Tuesday.

Grman skated in 35 games with the Rebels last season, contributing three assists.

“I really liked Mario, I watched him in the Tri-City tournament last year when Red Deer was there,” Ice GM Jeff Chynoweth told Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. “I thought he played well. Unfortunately in his situation, Red Deer went out and got Nelson Nogier and Colton Bobyk. He just got moved down the pecking order.

“He battled through it…He competes hard. He skates well. He shows willingness to stick up for his teammates. I know he’s very excited. He was very well liked in the Red Deer Rebel dressing room.”

• The Acadie-Bathurst Titan made Russian forward Vladimir Kuznetsov the first overall pick in the import draft.

The Saskatoon Blades chose Czech defenceman Libor Hajek second overall. The Sudbury Wolves made Russian forward Dmitry Sokolov the No. 3 pick in the draft.

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