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Rebels Sutter talks NHL Draft and updates on search for new head coach

No rush to find new bench boss
Red Deer Rebels forward Kai Uchacz celebrates after sniping his 28th of the year to take the Western Hockey League lead in goals. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

It’s been nearly two months since Red Deer Rebels’ former head coach Steve Konowalchuk stepped down.

Since then, owner and general manager Brent Sutter has been hard at work fielding calls in the search for a new bench boss.

Sutter explained progress has been made but they’re looking for the right fit and won’t hurry the process.

“Certainly it’s been very intriguing and interesting going through it but we’re in no rush just to hire somebody for the sake of hiring somebody,” he said.

“We want to hire the right person whether he has experience or someone maybe with not as much experience in head coaching. Someone that we think that’s an assistant coach that can flourish into being a heck of a head coach.”

They’ll continue to look at different options, do their research, and put the time in to find the right person.

“At the right time, we’ll make the announcement but at this point in time we’re not there yet.”

In other news, this week was an eventful one for the Red Deer Rebels.

Forward Kalan Lind was drafted 46th overall in the second round of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft by the Nashville Predators.

The 18-year-old from Shaunavon, Sask. contributed 44 points in 43 games for the Rebels in the 2022-23 season and added five points in 10 games in the WHL playoffs.

Sutter said it was awesome seeing Lind get selected early in the second round. He expected Lind to go anywhere from the 30th to 50th overall spot after discussions with various NHL organizations.

“It was great to see him get drafted and I know he’s very excited,” Sutter said.

“At the end of the day, it’s still about development. He’s got two more years of junior hockey to develop and continue to improve and get stronger.

“These next two years are going to be very important for him… It’s big for our organization to make sure he’s being developed the way he needs to be developed. Hopefully, he can be someone that Nashville, at the appropriate time, thinks he’s going to fit into their system and be a good player for them.”

Among other Red Deer Rebels who were ranked in NHL Central Scoutings final rankings prior to the draft were defencemen Matteo Fabrizi and Hunter Mayo as well as forward Kai Uchacz.

Fabrizi, Mayo, and Uchacz were all undrafted.

However, on Friday the Los Angeles Kings announced Mayo was one of 34 players named to their development camp from July 6-10.

Uchacz’s 50-goal campaign last season propelled him to 115th overall in the final rankings and potentially could have been selected in the later rounds.

However, teams decided to pass on him.

“Was I surprised by it? Not really, but at the same time, I was certainly hoping he would have got drafted,” Sutter said.

“There’s certain things I don’t want to get into but he’s been a humanitarian of the year for us the last two years. He’s made tremendous progress over the last couple of years to define himself of who he is as a person and hopefully, at the right time he’ll get that opportunity.”

Sutter expects big things from Uchacz in his upcoming 20-year-old season. In 2022-23 Uchacz had 50 goals which was second in the WHL behind Connor Bedard who had 71.

“We have a history of getting 20-year-olds pro contracts. It’s never too late so he just needs to keep pushing and keep getting better as a player.”

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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