Column: Rebels approach to trade deadline depends on depth

Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter is still waiting for the fruits of his trade labour to fully blossom.

After the blockbuster trade on Nov. 30, to acquire 19-year-old forwards Cam Hausinger and Brett Davis, the Rebels bench boss believes his lineup has not yet found its full potential. Red Deer is 6-4-1 since that trade.

“That added to our group and makes our team better. It’s just gelling and getting all the chemistry. Sorting through who is going to play with who and stuff like that,” he said.

That’s why, with just a week left until the WHL trade deadline, Sutter suggested all will be quiet in Rebels land leading up to the Jan. 10 deadline.

The biggest gamble Red Deer seems to be intent on making is with their depth. Betting on 17-year-old forwards Oleg Zaytsev, Blake Sydlowski, Arshdeep Bains, Zak Smith and Alex Morozoff to take the next step in their development, which would be an addition without any subtraction.

“I’m not anticipating anything. Unless it’s something that really makes sense for our team, I don’t want to do something just to do say that we did something– we added some depth,” Sutter said.

“I think our young players, give us a lot of depth and any of the depth players available, our younger players are better hockey players, at this point.”

While just last week you will recall, I wrote in this very space that Sutter almost always makes a trade between Dec. 28 and Jan. 10.

Of course, no GM wants to show his hand before it’s played and the Rebels appear comfortable with their roster as it stands. That doesn’t mean Sutter isn’t listening or monitoring what’s available closely.

“There’s always calls being made and taking calls but after we did the Hausinger and Davis deal, I’ve been patient in letting this group gel. I’m not prepared to trade top picks away for players that can’t play in our top six or seven. It doesn’t make sense on any front,” Sutter said.

“You know who’s out there and what teams are talking about. But again, we know our situation and we know we have a good team.”

From those conversations, what Sutter has learned is that the asking price is quite high at the moment.

For example, the top team in the CHL, the Prince Albert Raiders paid a steep price to acquire 20-year-old forward Dante Hannoun from the Victoria Royals. Prince Albert shipped out overager Kody McDonald and 2000-born centre Carson Miller in exchange for Hannoun, who lead the Royals with 19 goals and 17 assists in 28 games this season.

“What’s available and what’s out there, the prices are either extremely high for players that I don’t see how they fit into our mix here. That’s where I’m at right now,” Sutter said Thursday.

History suggests that could change before next Thursday, but only time will tell.

Red Deer travels to Calgary Friday to take on the Hitmen and Saturday they host the Victoria Royals at the Centrium.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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