Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter has some advice for the four skaters who were identified by Central Scouting Tuesday as players to watch this season in advance of the 2016 NHL entry draft.
“Continue to develop, do not get caught up in some list that’s come out with your name on it,” said Sutter. “Don’t worry about that. Focus in on the process of becoming a better player and helping our team have success.”
That being said, the Rebels boss can certainly envision each of forwards Jeff de Wit and Brandon Hagel and defencemen Josh Mahura and Austin Strand playing pro hockey at some pint.
“They all have pro potential, every one of them. They just have to continue to develop,” he said.
Mahura and de Wit are given a ‘B’ rating, which indicates a second- or third-round candidate for the draft. Hagel and Strand are ‘C’ prospects, projected as fourth- to sixth-round selections.
Sutter is confident that another of his forwards, Grayson Pawlenchuk, will receive plenty of notice from NHL scouts this season. The 18-year-old looked like the real deal during his rookie season of 2013-14, but his play fell off during somewhat of a disappointing sophomore season.
The Ardrossan native checked in at this year’s training camp packing some extra muscle and has shown that he’s ready to be a two-way force in his third season.
“He’s been awesome already and he’s going to turn some heads this year,” said Sutter. “He put on some weight over the summer and got stronger. He’s been everything we envisioned him to be after his 16-year-old season.
“Just because you’re not on the Central Scouting list doesn’t mean you’re not on an NHL team’s list. That’s just one scouting bureau, it doesn’t reflect what NHL teams might think of an individual. It’s just what their (Central Scouting’s) scouts think.”
• Defenceman Nelson Nogier rejoined the Rebels Tuesday after being reassigned by the Winnipeg Jets and team captain and forward Conner Bleackley, who was in the Colorado Avalanche lineup for a NHL preseason game Tuesday at Calgary, could be back as soon as today.
“Bleacks could possibly be staying in Calgary after the game and returning tomorrow,” said Sutter. “He told me through a text that’s what’s going on at this point.”
Once Bleackley returns, the Rebels will be minus the services of just one player — defenceman Haydn Fleury, who’s still with the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I haven’t had any communication with Carolina,” said Sutter. “They’ve cut down to the high 20s in players and still have 10 defencemen there. Where that goes, I’m not sure.”
• The WHL players on Central Scouting’s ‘A’ list (projected first-round picks) are Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Kayle Clague, Regina Pats centre Sam Steel, Swift Current Broncos defenceman Maxime Lajoie and Vancouver Giants winger Tyler Benson.
The following WHL players are also on the Central Scouting list:
B — D Jake Bean, Calgary; G Carter Hart, Everett; D Ondrej Vala, Kamloops; C Dillon Dube, D Lucas Johansen, Kelowna; C Brett Howden, G Zach Sawchenko, Moose Jaw; D Budik Vojtech, LW Simon Stransky, Prince Albert; D Libor Hajek, Saskatoon; G Evan Sarthou, Tri-City.
C — C Tanner Kaspick, Brandon; C Beck Malenstyn, Calgary; RW Patrick Bajkov, D Tristen Pfeifer, Everett; C Jake Kryski, Kamloops; D David Quennenville, G Nick Schneider, Medicine Hat; C Noah Gregor, Moose Jaw; D Brendan Dejong, Portland; RW Reid Gardiner, G Nick McBride, D Cody Paivarinta, Prince Albert; D Josh Anderson, RW Kody McDonald, Prince George; LW Adam Berg, Regina; LW Scott Eansor, LW Nolan Volcan, Seattle; D Dylan Coghlan, Tri-City; D Ryely McKinstry, Vancouver; D Ralph Jarratt, Victoria; C Tyler Soy, Victoria.