Randy Peterson wasn’t dreaming when he nabbed Kayle Doetzel with the 12th overall pick of the WHL bantam draft Thursday at the Edmonton Fantasyland Hotel.
The Red Deer Rebels director of scouting and player development was intent on landing a stud defenceman with the team’s first-round pick and the six-foot-one, 175-pound rearguard from Rosetown, Sask., it would appear, fits the bill.
“He sure does. He may be one of the top three skaters among the defencemen who were chosen today,” said Peterson. “He has excellent mobility and he can really unload the puck. He’s a great kid who comes from a great family, so we’re pretty excited that he’s a part of our organization.”
Doetzel is equally tickled about joining the Rebels.
“I didn’t really care which team drafted me, although I was hoping it would be a team close to home. Red Deer is only three to four hours away, which is really good,” said Doetzel, who scored 14 goals and collected 34 points in 20 games with the West Central bantam AA’s this season.
The youngster was hoping to follow the draft on a school computer Thursday morning.
“But all the computers were down,” he said. “I was trying to get one to work when I got a call from Randy Peterson. He asked me if I was pumped to be picked by the Rebels, and I was like, ‘oh yeah, sweet.’ I thought I might be picked around 20th or so in the first round, or early in the second. To be taken this early was a surprise, and a surprise is always good.”
Doetzel, who will suit up with the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts next season, sees himself as “kind of a stay-at-home, physical defenceman with a good shot.”
Peterson sees more than that.
“He’s got offensive capabilities, he can play the power play,” said Peterson. “And we really like the physical part of the game that he brings. He really likes to initiate contact. He’s really rugged and plays with an edge.”
On a day when the Rebels went local with the selections of forwards Scott Ferguson of Sylvan Lake and Scott Feser of Red Deer, their second selection — 34th overall — was highly-productive Notre Dame Hounds forward Cory Millette of Storthoaks, Sask., who was runner-up in scoring in the South Saskatchewan League with 47 goals and 92 points in 24 games.
“He’s got real soft hands and high-end skill. He’s also smart, a natural goal-scorer with good play making ability,” said Peterson of the five-foot-10 winger. “He could have played midget AAA at Moose Jaw but decided to play at Notre Dame to get more ice time, and it worked out very well for him.”
With their third pick, the Rebels snared Calgary Royal Gold centre Spencer Kryczka, who played with first-round picks Johnathon Merkley (Lethbridge) and Morgan Klimchuk (Regina) at the Alberta Cup.
“We felt he really made that line click,” said Peterson. “He’s a kid we’ve always liked, a power forward type who we think complements skilled players very well. He finishes checks hard and he’s got a decent set of hands, too. We really like the physical part of his game and he can play centre and wing.”
Kryczka had 13 goals and 32 points in 31 games during the regular season.
The Rebels’ next two drafted forwards, Ferguson and Feser of the Red Deer Rebels Black, put up better numbers. Ferguson, taken in the sixth round, 122nd overall, racked up 45 points (23-22) while the five-foot-eight, 145-pound Feser, Red Deer’s eighth-round selection (166th overall), had 17 goals among his 45 points.
“We really like Scott’s work ethic and compete level,” said Peterson, in reference to the five-foot-11, 165-pound Ferguson. “He’s really good down low, below the dots. He skates pretty well and has a good frame. Scott also has good hockey sense. We really like what he brings to table and the fact that you know what you’re getting from him every shift.”
Ferguson had no idea he’d see his name come up opposite of the Rebels.
“It was kind of a surprise to me because they didn’t really talk to me before the draft,” he said, admitting that he previous discussions with other teams. “I’m excited about it. It’s a good opportunity.”
Ferguson followed the draft on his home computer. His reaction when his name appeared?
“I was kind of shocked, actually. I know my parents are happy.”
The Rebels simply couldn’t pass on Feser, whose brother Justin is an emerging star with the Tri-City Americans despite being a late pick in 2007.
“Scott has that touch around the net and he’s a real smart player,” said Peterson. “He’s not overly big but he goes to the greasy areas. He has to get quicker, no question, but he has some genuine ability.”
Feser heard the news at school.
“My teacher had the draft going on her computer and she let me know when my name came up,” he said. “I was pretty happy. It’s great that I get to stay at home with my friends and family.”
Peterson is convinced the Rebels were draft-table winners Thursday.
“We’re pretty happy. We addressed what we felt was a priority for us,” he said. “We’re happy with the forwards we have coming up through the system and with our second pick we got a kid who can really put the puck in the net.”
Following is the lowdown on the remainder of the Rebels’ draft picks, including position, hometown, height/weight, 2009-10 statistics and team, and quote(s) from Peterson:
• Fifth round, 93rd overall (from Regina Pats) — G Alex Orth, Abbotsford, B.C., 6-3 170 lbs., 25 GP-1.85 GAA-.923 save percentage, Abbotsford AAA.
“He’s a big athletic goaltender with good agility. He’s real fluid post to post and up and down. Alex is a technically sound young guy with lots of potential. He’s come a long way and grown a lot since Christmas.”
• Fifth round, 99th overall — D Kevin Pochuk, Winnipeg, 5-11 156 lbs., 28GP-3-16-19, Winnipeg Warriors AAA.
“Kevin is a smart, puck-moving kid who’s really patient. He’s smart with his passes and he really leans into his shot. He has pretty good feet and we really like how he thinks the game.”
• Ninth round, 188th overall — D Dawven Berggren, Saskatoon, 5-8 140 lbs., 46GP-2-11-13, Saskatoon Frostbite AA.
“Jesse (Rebels head coach/VP of hockey operations) saw him play at the Western championship and was impressed. He thinks the game well and he has a good frame with some upside for growth. We think there’s a lot of ability there.”
• 10th round, 210th overall — D Tyson Maton, Winfield, 6-2 174 lbs., 32GP-2-6-8, Spruce Grove AAA.
“He really improved over the course of the year, he works hard to get better. He makes a good first pass and he’s an honest stay-home type guy who thinks the game pretty well.”