Rebels pick pair of forwards in CHL Import Draft

Both players expected to report to training camp at the end of August

The Red Deer Rebels made the most of the CHL import player rules on Thursday and drafted two forwards.

Red Deer made a pair of selections in the import draft, picking Russian forward Oleg Zaitsev in the 17th spot and Ivan Drozdov of Belarus at 77.

The reason the Rebels were able to select two players, was largely due to defenceman Alex Alexeyev being selected in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft.

Since Alexeyev was picked 31st overall by the Washington Capitals, the Rebels were allowed a supplemental pick in the import draft. When the Russian defenceman was chosen by Washington, he was transferred to the NHL Reserve list. If Alexeyev returns to Red Deer in the 2018-2019 season, Red Deer is given a small window to sort out which two import players they intend to keep. CHL teams are only permitted two import players on their roster.

With forward Kristian Reichel being on the 20-year-old import list, the Rebels were also allowed a selection in the Import Draft.

Zaitsev is a 17-year-old forward who played last season in the Russian Junior League with MHK Dynamo Moskva. The 6-1, 185-pound playmaking centre had a solid season, in 48 games registered eight goals and 19 assists. His big showcase came in the World U17 Hockey Challenge, where he put up five points in five games.

“He’s a top end player in his age group. Big centreman who moves well. Smart, really thinks the game well,” said Rebels assistant GM Shaun Sutter.

“Really anticipates the play well with and without the puck. He’s not only a good offensive player but a good penalty killer. Can score and make plays. He’ll be coveted for the upcoming NHL Draft.”

Drozdov is a 1999-born right winger that played for Yunost Minsk last year. He also had a decent showing at the World Junior Hockey Championships, when he scored twice and added an assist in six games. Sutter expects him to suit up for Belarus again this year at the world juniors.

The 18-year-old, who turns 19 in November, is listed at six-foot, 174-pounds.

“He’s not the tallest or biggest guy, but he’s a gritty guy that plays with a lot of energy and tenacity. Has some skill and can shoot. Pretty good player,” Sutter added.

“It gives us some coverage on Alex because you never know when you get NHL players picked, when they could come back or will they come back.”

The two selections will help bolster a forward group that had 38-goal scorer Mason McCarty age out.

Without Reichel who notched 34 tallies, and last year’s captain Grayson Pawlenchuk who scored 18 goals, the Rebels need to replace some of that scoring. Sutter thought they at least accomplished some of that on Thursday.

“We were targeting the best player, but ideally, we target a centreman that can play with our other top forwards and make our team better. No different than when we drafted Kristian Reichel last year,” he said.

The Rebels expect both players to be in Red Deer for training camp at the end of August.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Updated: SUV smashes through fences and deck in Anders

Driver taken to hospital after SUV veered off 30th Avenue into Anders

Art on Red Deer billboard a reminder of aboriginal women’s strength

Joane Cardinal-Schubert’s image is part of Resilience Project, shown from coast to coast

Red Deer’s new ‘equity co-ordinator’ will promote tolerance

Andrea Lacoursiere was hired by city with Alberta Human Rights funding

More bridge work this summer in Red Deer’s Coronation Park

The park’s north bridge is being rebuilt to ensure safety

Man badly injured in off-road vehicle collision on Saturday

Incident happened in Mountain View County about 10:50 p.m.

CFIA inspects after video shows pigs crammed into B.C. transport truck

The video shows pigs piled on top of one another in a transport truck on a “sweltering” hot day last week

Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber falls to Bryce Harper in Home Run Derby final

WASHINGTON — Nationals Park was eerily quiet late Monday when Kyle Schwarber… Continue reading

Lava crashes through roof of Hawaii tour boat, injuring 23

HONOLULU — An explosion caused by lava oozing into the ocean sent… Continue reading

Banff holds blessing ceremony with Indigenous elders before letting bison roam

BANFF, Alta. — Several Indigenous elders were flown by helicopter into the… Continue reading

Research expedition looks at unseen depths of Labrador Sea ecosystem

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Last summer, a team of scientists returned from… Continue reading

Protesters camped outside Saskatchewan legislature taking province to court

REGINA — Protesters camped outside the Saskatchewan legislature say they are taking… Continue reading

British PM accepts key amendments from hardline Brexiteers

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday accepted amendments to… Continue reading

‘City of icebergs:’ Study says 100s of Arctic glaciers shrinking, disappearing

The statistics in her recently published paper say it all: hundreds of… Continue reading

U.S. hits back with WTO challenge against Canada’s retaliatory tariffs

OTTAWA — The United States fired back Monday at the Canadian government’s… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month