The Red Deer Rebels shuffled their goaltending around slightly Wednesday.
Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter traded 17-year-old Dawson Weatherill and a fifth-round draft pick in the 2018 WHL bantam draft to the Spokane Chiefs for 19-year-old netminder Tyson Verhelst and a third-round pick in the 2017 draft.
The move brings Verhelst in to join 20-year-old Trevor Martin and 18-year-old rookie Riley Lamb.
“We felt with Lamer, Marty and Dawson here it was a situation where Dawson wouldn’t get much of a chance to play, especially with Lamer playing the way he is and Marty being a 20-year-old,” said Sutter. “I felt that if we could find a good situation for Dawson, inside a good organization, where he could grow and develop as a player and hopefully push to be a starting goaltender at some time we would make it happen and Spokane showed a lot of interest.
“Scott (Carter), their GM, and I had a lot of conversation on this over the last while. For me to make the move I wanted a goaltender back. I still want three goalies to start the year. The difference between the two is that Dawson is 17 and a good prospect and hopefully he can grow into that role in Spokane. The player we got back played over 50 games in the league last season. Was a starting goalie and is 19. We’ll see how it all shakes out, and see where it goes.”
The six-foot, 195-pound Verhelst played the past two seasons with the Chiefs. In 2014-15 the Brandon native played in 26 games, posting an 11-11-0-0 record , a 3.65 goals-against-average (gaa) and an .883 save percentage. Last season he was in 55 games with a 23-22-1-4 record, a 3.16 gaa and an .892 save percentage.
Getting a third-round draft pick back was also important.
”It’s a nice asset to have,” said Sutter. “In hosting the Memorial Cup we moved some assets, like draft picks, out. We’ve basically accumulated most of those back.”
“That’s the management side of me, to get those assets back. We want to stay strong and remain competitive with our picks moving forward. Now it’s on our scout’s shoulders.”
Verhelst will arrive in Red Deer today, but won’t be on the three-game road trip.
“He didn’t return to Spokane this year and was at home,” added Sutter. “I communicated with him and he’s excited about coming here. He will come in but needs about three weeks of practice to get in game shape and to be where he needs to be. We don’t want to set him up to fail.”
He’ll work with Erik Lodge while the Rebels are out east on their road trip and start working out full time next week.
Defenceman Josh Mahura (Anaheim) and forward Adam Musil (St. Louis) returned from their NHL camps Wednesday, joining Brandon Hagel (Buffalo) and Jeff de Wit (Detroit), who arrived on Monday. Michael Spacek (Winnipeg) is the lone regular still away.
“I talked with Winnipeg and they said they’d let us know this week about Spacek,” said Sutter. “Hopefully it’s sooner than later as we have three games in three days all against tough opponents. The more bodies, especially experienced and impact players, we have the better off we are.”
Sutter also made one other move Wednesday when he reassigned 16-year-old forward Austin Schellenberg to Grande Prairie of the Alberta Midget Hockey League.
The six-foot-one, 145-pound Schellenberg didn’t have a point in two regular season games and two assists in four preseason contests.
The Rebels visit Moose Jaw Friday, Brandon Saturday and Regina Sunday afternoon, They return home Wednesday against Kamloops before hosting Medicine Hat Friday and Kelowna Saturday.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at rdcathletics.ca.