Rebels sign import pick Oleg Zaitsev

Also added 20-year-old Jeff de Wit to overage list

The Red Deer Rebels are slowly beginning to reshape their roster for the 2018-2019 season.

Earlier this week, the club announced on their website that 2018 first round CHL Import Draft pick Oleg Zaitsev signed an agreement with the team and will be at training camp starting on Aug. 22.

The team picked the six-foot-one, 185-pound Russian centre 17th overall in the import draft. The status of the Rebels’ other import pick, Ivan Drozdov, whom they selected 77th overall is still up in the air.

Drozdov’s status partly depends on what happens with Rebels defenceman Alex Alexeyev. Alexeyev, who was selected by the Washington Capitals in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft, could remain with the NHL club for the early parts of the WHL season. If that is the case, the Rebels might benefit from bringing Drozdov in as their second import player along with Zaitsev.

The Rebels also added former forward and Red Deer native Jeff de Wit to their 20-year-old list this week. The 20-year-old centre could battle for one of the team’s three overage spots this year. de Wit split last season between the Regina Pats, Kootenay Ice and Victoria Royals. In 21 games with Victoria, he put up eight goals and six assists. He added two goals in nine playoff games with the Royals.

Rebels forward Reese Johnson, who was named captain in the spring will occupy one of the three overage spots for Red Deer next season.

The Rebels are hopeful that Brandon Hagel, an alternate captain from last season and one of the club’s leading point producers will be back in the fold.

The 19-year-old was at Montreal Canadiens Development Camp in June and has been invited to the team’s rookie camp. Hagel had 59 points in 56 games last year and has 177 points in 193 career WHL games. He first joined the Rebels in the 2015-2016 season.

Goalie Riley Lamb is another overage player battling for a spot, along with defenceman Colin Paradis, who the Rebels acquired from a trade with the Moose Jaw Warriors last season.

Rebels Training Camp will get underway on Aug. 22 at the Centrium.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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