Five Red Deer Rebels players will attend NHL camps this week while harbouring varying goals and expectations.
At the front of the list is defenceman Mathew Dumba, whom the Minnesota Wild nabbed seventh overall in last year’s NHL entry draft. Dumba made a positive impression at the 2012 Wild camp and was late arriving back in Red Deer, and there’s no reason to suggest he’ll back in Red Deer any time soon, if at all.
“I’d say it’s 50-50 with Matty and I think we have a pretty good chance of getting the other four back,” Rebels general manager/head coach Brent Sutter said Tuesday. “With Matty, his NHL team will dictate where he plays this year. Just going off discussions with the people in Minnesota, they’ll keep him around at for at least awhile and let him play some games.”
Dumba, who left for St. Paul, Minn., during the weekend, has signed a three-year entry-level deal that will kick in once he appears in 10 NHL games. The Wild plays its ninth game of the 2013-14 season on Oct. 19.
Netminder Patrik Bartosak was drafted by Los Angeles in June after winning CHL goalie of the year honours and left Tuesday for the Kings’ rookie camp being held at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, Calif.
Meanwhile, forward Rhyse Dieno will attend the Minnesota Wild rookie camp and participate in an ensuing tournament at Traverse City, Mich., and forward Lukas Sutter is scheduled to attend the Winnipeg Jets main camp. Defenceman Kayle Doetzel, 18, was passed over in this year’s NHL draft but has been invited to the Nashville Predators rookie camp.
As 20-year-olds, Bartosak, Dieno and Sutter are eligible to play minor pro hockey this season, although Sutter is confident all three will be back in a Rebels uniform, likely in time for the opening weekend of the WHL regular-season schedule.
“Patty has been told that he’s going to be coming back (to Red Deer),” said Brent Sutter, who envisions Dieno, who put up in 59 points (27-32) in 48 regular-season games with the Rebels last winter, and Sutter, who struggled with the Saskatoon Blades after sniping 28 goals the previous season, also returning.
“Minnesota knows that he (Dieno) played only two-thirds of a season with us last year,” said Sutter. “But I’ll be communicating with their people this coming weekend to see where they are with him.”
As for Lukas Sutter . . .
“Based on the discussions I’ve had with Winnipeg, at this point they seem to be on board with the notion that it would be good for him to have a really good season with us as a 20-year-old,” said the Rebels boss. “But then again, how he plays at the NHL camp might dictate where he plays this season.”
Doetzel will definitely be back with the Rebels and Sutter hopes he returns from Nashville a better player due to the NHL camp experience.
“Not being drafted this year should be a good wake-up call for him,” said Sutter. “We talked with Kayle throughout the year and at the end of the season about how he has to change some of his game. He’s such a great kid, but when you step on the ice you need a different switch and he has to learn to use that other switch. He has to be more aggressive and he has to continue to work on the defensive side of his game.
“He’s not an offensive defenceman whatsoever, but he needs to be a smart, intelligent player who moves the puck quickly up the ice and has some aggression in his game.”
Whatever transpires, Sutter feels that all five players will benefit from their time at the NHL camps.
“It will be a positive experience for all of them and that’s what you want it to be,” he said. “We want them to go there and do well and let the chips fall there they fall. Our job is to develop players and get these guys the opportunity to go to pro camps, be a presence there and set themselves up moving forward.”
• The Rebels are in Nanton Friday to face the Calgary Hitmen in a preseason contest, then host the Lethbridge Hurricanes Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Red Deer Arena.