Two Red Deer Rebels have reached a major milestone in their hockey careers.
Jayden Grubbe and Kyle Masters were selected in the 2021 National Hockey League Draft, which was conducted virtually over the weekend.
“I’m really excited. It hasn’t fully set in yet. I’m looking forward to going there for the first time and soaking it all in,” said Grubbe, Red Deer’s captain.
Grubbe was selected by the New York Rangers in the third round of the draft Saturday. The six-foot-two, 200-pound centre was selected with the 65th overall pick.
The Rangers “have a lot of good young guys and a good core. It’s exciting going into a team like that. They’re up and coming and building towards being a dominant team,” he said.
The draft was in the middle of a commercial when Grubbe was selected.
“I got two or three texts during the commercial, so I was kind of confused what was going on. Then someone texted my dad and told him,” he said.
“We started celebrating, but we weren’t too sure what to do until we saw it on the TV like a minute later. Then we had more of a real celebration. It was kind of funny. It’s relieving to get this all over with for sure.”
The Calgary native played just five games this past Western Hockey League season, after suffering a knee injury. He scored one goal and added two assists in his limited time this year. Grubbe said he hopes to help the Rebels take the next step as a team this upcoming season.
“The main goal for me is getting a team into the playoffs, go on a bit of a run and get the winning culture back in Red Deer,” he said.
Rebels defenceman Kyle Masters was selected by the Minnesota Wild in the fourth round of the draft.
Seeing his name being selected 118th overall was “a big sigh of relief” for the six-foot-one, 175-pound Edmonton native.
“Obviously this has been a tough year for everyone. This has been a dream for me for a long time. Hearing my name get called was obviously a huge honour,” said Masters, who recorded 10 assists in 20 games this past season.
Minnesota having a younger roster provides an “exciting” opportunity for this year’s draft picks, Masters said.
“They want us to be the core guys moving forward, so I think all of us are going to keep working and hopefully we can get everything they want us to do done in the near future,” he said.
As for this upcoming season, Masters said he’s excited for fans to return to the Centrium. His goal for the 2021-22 WHL season is to “continue to grow as a player and as a person,” he added.
“With the confusing year everyone had, there was a little bit of a stoppage to our year. I think everyone wants to get back to normalcy, obviously with fans hockey kind of changes a little bit.
“As a team, we’re going to feed off the fans’ energy and I think we’re going to take a big step forward.”
Overall, 33 WHL players were selected during the 2021 NHL Draft.
Five WHL players were selected in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft, including Edmonton Oil Kings forward Dylan Guenther, who was chosen ninth overall by the Arizona Coyotes, and Oil Kings goaltender Sebastian Cossa, who was selected 15th by the Detroit Red Wings.
Of the 87 players selected out of the Canadian Hockey League at the 2021 NHL Draft, 38 per cent hail from the WHL. No other development league in the world had more players selected than the 33 hailing from the WHL.