Brett Davis already seems to enjoy the view from the top.
The veteran forward joined the Central Divison’s first-place Red Deer Rebels last Friday, after a blockbuster swap with the Kootenay Ice.
Davis, 19, was a big piece in a deal the Rebels made to bolster their forward group. He was acquired from the Ice along with gritty winger Cam Hausinger, in exchange for River Fahey, Austin Schellenberg, Justin Svenson, as well as 15-year-old unsigned forward Chase Bertholet.
“Super stoked to come to Red Deer,” Davis said Tuesday ahead of Rebels practice.
“I think it’s a winning environment here and I’ve been through some tough times in my career, so it’s nice to come to a team that’s in first place right now.”
For the better part of two and a half seasons, Davis has been anchored to the top line on the Kootenay Ice, moored there with not much hope of winning.
Although on a losing team, Davis still made the most of his 2016-17 season, when he notched 22 points in 30 games in Kootenay. That led to a sixth-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft by the Dallas Stars.
The Ice were below .500 in his entire 126-game tenure with the franchise and were never able to crack the WHL playoffs. Over that time he had 43 goals and 109 points, including a 25-goal campaign last year.
He hopes to channel that offensive touch and develop his defensive game a bit more in Red Deer.
“Feel like I bring an offensive presence. I can be a power play guy and I can kill penalties too. I’ve always been trying to work on my 200-foot game. I’m taking a lot more pride in that lately,” said the six-foot-one, 180-pound winger.
“Been in the league for four years now, so I like to see myself as a leader and helping out the young guys, I know when I was young there were a couple situations where you want to be shy. I see myself as a leader.”
Over his four year career, the 19-year-old has only tasted the playoffs once, for five games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the 2015-16 season.
The Hurricanes drafted him in the fourth round, 78th overall in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.
After 23 games during his second season in Lethbridge, just short of the trade deadline in 2017, he was dealt to Kootenay along with Colton Kroeker and two draft picks for Zak Zborosky and Matt Alfaro.
Davis was with the Ice in Seattle ahead of a game against the Thunderbirds last Friday, when he was informed of the trade.
That triggered a hectic day Saturday when he flew to Calgary and made the quick trip up to Red Deer in whiteout-like conditions. He arrived just a few hours before game time but was in the lineup against the Moose Jaw Warriors.
“Hectic day for sure. Flying from Seattle to Calgary and showing up to the rink at four. Crazy day, but all in all I’m really happy to be here,” he said.
While his debut was hectic, the Oakbank, Man. native had an almost ideal night against the team that drafted him Sunday.
In a 5-4 overtime loss to the Hurricanes, Davis had two goals and an assist. His second goal, a short-handed marker that gave the Rebels a 3-2 lead, was a strong net drive and a great deke.
Nice to get the first one as a Rebel. Get a little stress off my back. Not the outcome we wanted. We wanted the two points,” he said.
“I’ve always liked killing penalties. When I get a chance to take it to the net, I will.”
Davis knows a few of the Rebels, including Jeff de Wit who was in Kootenay last season and Dawson Barteaux, a fellow Stars draft pick. So far, Davis said the biggest thing he’s noticed about Red Deer is how tight-knit the group is and thinks that will only lead to more winning.
“The main thing is seeing how tight the group is,” he said.
“It’s an awesome dressing room and the guys are all super close. That transitions on to the ice so quickly. Having chemistry with the guys and if everyone is all in, we’re going to be successful.”
If all goes right this season with the Rebels, along with winning, he might finally earn the deal he’s been searching for from the Stars.
“That’s the plan,” Davis said.
Red Deer is back on the ice Friday at home against the Regina Pats.