CALGARY — Draft day turned into a trade day for the Red Deer Rebels as they traded first round draft picks twice in the Western Hockey League bantam draft.
After the smoke had cleared, the Rebels used their first two picks of the draft to take two players from the Bantam provincial champion Lethbridge Golden Hawks. Goalie Byron Fancy and defenceman Nicholas Draffin.
Starting the day with the 10th overall pick, the Rebels parlayed that into one second and two third round draft picks. The Rebels did not have a glut of picks coming into the draft, trading them away to build up for the Memorial Cup. Before the trades there would have been a gap of 63 players between the Rebels first and second pick, in the fourth round 73rd overall.
Rebels assistant general manager/director of player personnel Shaun Sutter said the draft depth this year afforded the team the opportunity to move down and gain picks.
The draft held Thursday saw WHL teams select bantam players, born in 2001, from across Western Canada and the Western U.S. The Rebels chose 13 players.
The Rebels selected Fancy, a five-foot-11, 165 pound netminder who played in 18 games last season for the Golden Hawks and had a 1.49 goals against average with a 0.908 save percentage. He followed it up with a 1.74 goals against average and a 0.921 save percentage in nine playoff games.
“He’s a kid that probably wasn’t on the scene at the beginning of the year and he improved throughout the season and played very well in playoffs,” said Sutter. “He’s a farm kid from Clarseholm and there’s a lot of upside to him.”
Fancy backstopped the Golden Hawks to a provincial championship and a bronze medal at the Western Canadian Bantam AAA Championship.
The Rebels started the action by trading down in the first round from 10th overall to 20th, taking the Kelowna Rockets first round pick. To move up the Rockets also sent their third round, 48th overall pick to the Rebels. The 48th overall pick had originally belonged to the Swift Current Broncos. In effect, the 20th pick was the 19th pick due to the Portland Winterhawks forfeiting their first round pick as punishment for player benefits violations.
Using the higher pick from the Rebels, the Rockets selected defenceman Kaeden Korczak from the Yorkton Maulers.
But the Rebels weren’t done trading draft picks. Just before making the 20th selection they traded that draft pick to the Vancouver Giants in exchange for Vancouver’s second (24th) and third round (46th) draft picks.
Staying with the provincial bantam champions, the Rebels took Fancy’s teammate defenceman Draffin in the third round (46th overall). Draffin, six-foot-1 and 185 pounds, had two goals and 26 assists in 36 regular season games with the Golden Hawks and followed it up with one goal and eight assists in 12 playoff games.
“He’s another kid who improved steadily throughout the year,” said Sutter. “With the two Lethbridge kids we really feel that going forward we like their development path. With Mike Dyck (Golden Hawks head coach) as their coach.
“Nick is a big, solid shutdown defenceman who can skate and make simple puck plays. We have a few guys like him on our team now and we coveted him because of his size and hockey sense.”
Two picks later, the Rebels took centre Justin Svenson from the Eastmen Selects, out of Manitoba. The five-foot-nine, 146 pound forward had 36 goals and 46 assists in 31 games last season.
“He has a real offensive skill set. He can quarterback a power play, he can score and make plays. He’s a threat both ways,” said Sutter.
River Fahey, F; 4th round, 74th overall; six-one 173 pounds; Campbell River Bantams; 36GP, 55G, 31A, 86Pts.
“He has a real good skill set, he can skate and handle the puck and shoot. He’s not afraid to run over people. He was a real sleeper pick in the fourth round,” said Sutter.
Ryan Gottfried, D; 5th round, 101st overall; six-two 209 pounds; Winnipeg AAA Bantam Hawks; 33GP, 6G, 9A, 15Pts.
“He’s a big, solid, steady, smart defenceman. His foot speed is developing, but he’s a big kid that’s smart. He has good upside due to his instincts,” said Sutter.
Jayden McCarthy, F; 6th round, 125th overall; five-10 176 pounds; Pembina Valley Hawks; 35GP, 28G, 16A, 44Pts.
“He’s a smart two-way centre man that has skill and can make plays. We wonder if he’ll be a Grayson Pawlenchuk-type player,” said Sutter.
Alex Mozoroff, F; 7th round, 149th overall; five-10 145 pounds; Saskatoon Stallions; 30GP, 26G, 26A, 52Pts.
“He has a good skill set, he can skate and score. We were pretty familiar with him,” said Sutter.
Evan Michaels, D; 8th round, 171st overall; six 164 pounds; Winnipeg Sharks; 32GP, 1G, 7A, 8Pts.
“He’s big raw guy who can skate and plays aggressive. He’s getting his feet under him and learning the game. He has some good upside,” said Sutter.
Cam York, D; 9th round, 193rd overall; five-10 145 pounds; Shattuck-St. Mary’s U14; 60GP, 18G, 51A, 69Pts.
“He’s a stud player. Based on ability he’s as good as any defenceman in the 2001 age group. He’s an American so we’re going to have to recruit him. We thought he was the best American player available and why not take a chance,” said Sutter.
Carter Barley, F; 10th round, 215th overall; six foot 160 pounds; Winnipeg Thrashers; 37GP, 23G, 27A, 50Pts.
“We’ve watched him play midget, he’s a late bloomer. He’s a guy we took a chance on, he has a Brandon Hagel-type skill set and look but he’s a bigger kid,” said Sutter.
Jackson Betcher, D; 11th round, 237th overall; five-nine 143 pounds; Parkland Rangers; 35GP, 9G, 23A, 32Pts.
“A smaller guy right now who has a really good hockey IQ. We see him as a sleeper type. He’s going to grow and he’s smart, can skate and his skill is above average,” said Sutter.
Jeffrey Bertrand, F; 12th round, 259th overall; five-nine 140 pounds; Team Alaska U14; 53GP, 7G, 13A, 20Pts.
“He’s a really good player. We like him quite a big, had he been a Canadian kid he’d probably be a top three round pick. But we wanted to take a chance on him,” said Sutter.
Lucas Jones, D; 13th round, 281st overall; six 158 pounds; Calgary Northstar Sabres; 36GP, 1G, 5A, 6Pts.
“He’s a lanky kid that developed a lot throughout the year. He’s smart, his skating improved and with him being from Calgary we thought we could monitor his development and work closely with him,” said Sutter.