The Red Deer Rebels got a welcomed boost to the lineup on Wednesday.
Forward Kalan Lind and defenceman Hunter Mayo returned to Red Deer after spending time at their respective National Hockey League training camps.
Lind was at Nashville Predators rookie and main camp after he was drafted by the franchise in the NHL draft this summer meanwhile Mayo returns from the Los Angeles Kings from a tryout with the club.
Lind explained he and the rest of the Predators rookies flew down to Florida for the rookie tournament before returning to Nashville for the main camp.
“Main camp was awesome,” he said. “It was a little tough but it was good. I got into an exhibition game and that was a lot of fun too.”
“You’re on the ice and you’re like ‘Holy, I’m playing with Tyson Barrie, Ryan McDonagh, Ryan O’Reilly, and all those guys.’ After the first day we all kind of settled in and they were great with us and it didn’t seem like they were trying to be above us so it was awesome.”
Before sending Lind back to the Rebels they encouraged the 18-year-old from Shaunavon, Sask. to get bigger, faster, and stronger to potentially make the team next year.
“They say I’ll have a legitimate chance so I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “They want me to have a big leadership role on [the Rebels] and lead all these young guys.
“They want me to play my game and do what I can on the ice.”
He put on six pounds of muscle in the offseason in preparation for this season but plans to add more throughout the year.
He hopes on an individual level to reach the 70-90 point total this season, be a leader, and continue his physical and gritty style of play.
Lind was selected 46th overall in the second round of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft by the Predators earlier this year, which was a moment that was special to him and his family.
“My family doesn’t really get to get together all too often with all of us playing hockey. It was awesome just to get a week to ourselves before the draft and then it was obviously a pretty exciting weekend not knowing where I was going to go,” he said.
“When I heard my name called it’s kind of like you black out and not know much even when we were talking to the media I was just trying to process that I was drafted into the NHL.”
Now back in Red Deer, Lind can’t wait to get started.
“I’ve been chatting with them and they’re all super excited to have me back and I’m super excited to be back with the guys. Most of my best friends are on this team it’s pretty awesome to be back with them,” he added.
Mayo seconded Lind’s sentiment but added he hopes to bring much-needed physicality to the team, an area he felt the Rebels could use more of after watching the first two games.
“I feel like I could help the team out with that. Just bringing out my all-around physical presence, being with the team, and working hard every day,” Mayo said. “In practice and off the ice just making myself, the team, and the guys around me better.”
Mayo wasn’t signed by the Kings before they sent him back to Red Deer, leaving him without a professional contract. But he said he learned a great deal from the experience.
“One of the biggest things I learned was just how fast the pace is there and where I really need to get to and what areas I need to work on,” he said. “It was a really good learning experience.”
Mayo has plenty of time to get signed by an NHL club at just 19 years old and could earn a contract throughout the season if an opportunity comes up.
The main message from the staff in LA to Mayo was to perfect consistency in his own game.
“Consistency is the key and just to come back and play with confidence. From the camp, I feel like I walked away with a lot of confidence and I’m ready to go.”
Defenceman Matteo Fabrizi returned from the Vegas Golden Knights training camp prior to last weekend’s games and defenceman Mats Lindgren remains at Buffalo Sabres main camp.
The Rebels have just one game on the schedule this week on Friday when they host the Medicine Hat Tigers at 7 p.m. on Friday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium.