The $64,000 question had yet to be asked one day after Red Deer Rebels all-star netminder Patrik Bartosak was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in Sunday’s NHL entry draft at Newark, N.J.
Brent Sutter’s enquiring mind wanted to know if there was any chance the Kings would hold off on signing Bartosak for 12 months and instead send him back to the Rebels as a 20-year-old stopper.
The Kings picked Bartosak in the fifth round — 146th overall — of the draft and Sutter, with brother Darryl the head coach in Los Angeles, was hoping to get some kind of idea Sunday of whether Bartosak will be signed in short order.
“I talked to Darryl today and he said the team management was in the air (flying back to Los Angeles),” said the Rebels GM/head coach. “I’ll try and catch someone there the first thing in the morning.”
Sutter, with the CHL import draft set for Wednesday, needs some sort of idea of what the Kings have planned for Bartosak next season.
“At the end of the day, I have to know . . . yes or no,” he said. “If they say it’s 100 per cent they’re not sending him back, then I have to move forward and go in a different direction. Darryl told me today the Kings were high on (Bartosak) and they thought they’d be able to get him in the fifth round and they did.
“Darryl said he doesn’t know if Patty could be sent back to us. He just knows the Kings are high on him. They came into Red Deer in February and spent 10 days watching him and left here speaking very highly of him. Who knows what they’re going to tell us, but I have to know if there’s any kind of a chance we could get him back.”
If Sutter hears that Bartosak is likely ticketed for one more year in the WHL, then the Rebels bench boss — with Czech forward Dominik Volek already guaranteed of a berth — will not participate in Wednesday’s CHL import draft.
Bartosak, meanwhile, told Kings radio commentator Daryl Evans that he was simply tickled to have his name called.
“Being drafted has been my dream,” he said. “It’s an awesome feeling and the Kings are a great organization. I’m looking forward to being part of this organization.”
Bartosak also told Evans that he’s his own man, despite idolozing the likes of NHL netminders Patrick Lalime, Jose Theodore and Pekka Rinne over the years.
“Those three guys were kind of my idols, but I never tried to play like them. I just liked the way they played and that was it,” said Bartosak.
As for his highlight moments prior to the draft . . .
“My first game for the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL, that’s one of my biggest moments,” said Bartosak. “Winning the gold medal in a midget league in the Czech Republic is another highlight, as is getting drafted into the NHL.”
Asked if Los Angeles was ever on his radar, Bartosak responded: “I was thinking of every possibility and L.A. was there too. I thought it would be unreal to get into this organization and the city. I’m definitely looking forward to being there.”
Meanwhile, Rebels defenceman Kayle Doetzel and forward Matt Bellerive — both of whom were ranked by Central Scouting — were passed over in the draft.
“I was hoping they would get picked, but from things I was told at the end of the season there was a chance it would not happen for either one of them,” said Sutter.
“I talked to ‘Doetz’ as the end of the year and told him that if he wants to reach the next level that he has to bring his A game to the table on a nightly basis. He has to become more of a physical presence on the ice and more of a consistent player, and the same things goes for Bellerive.
“Both will be key players for us next season and both have to mature on that path and give us what we expect of them. There’s no reason why ‘Doetz’ can’t be a top-four D-man here. He’s going to determine that with his play. He has to be more of a presence on the ice on a nightly basis. He has the opportunity to come back as an 18-year-old and take his game to the next level. The same goes for Bellerive as a 19-year-old.”