The Red Deer Rebels will have a good chance to acquire a high-quality player in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.
At the draft lottery Wednesday, the Swift Current Broncos were given the first overall selection, which is owned by the Regina Pats after a trade in 2018.
The Red Deer Rebels had one out of 21 balls in the lottery, but will still pick sixth, with no change in their position after the WHL season was cancelled earlier this month.
Rebels assistant GM Shaun Sutter said that the club has had to change their approach a little bit with most provinces unable to hold year-end tournaments like most years. That’s led to a lot more time on the phone reaching out to prospective players and families.
“You watch these kids all year long. A lot of the year-end things, it’s putting the final touches on things. At the year-end events you can do a lot of face to face conversations with parents and players, where now a lot of that is going to be done over the phone,” he said.
“We’ll be ready. We ran around before everything kinda got locked down to see a lot of the players that were playing in playoffs or before their season ended if they weren’t making playoffs. We’re comfortable and ready to go.”
With, Sutter and the scouting staff are excited for the draft on April 22 and they believe it to be a deep class in 2020.
This is a real strong year. You’re going to get some good players, this is the type of year where you’re going to get good players in the second and third round even. It’s that strong of a year,” Sutter said.
“Any pick in the first round is going to be a good player, at the same time, they’re only good if they’re playing for you. You want to do your due diligence and make sure they have interest in the league and playing and everything like that, make sure it’s a fit for your team, too.”
The last time the Rebels picked sixth or higher was in 2014, when they selected centre Jake Leschyshyn out of Grasswood, Sask.
The undersized centre went on to play five seasons in the WHL, all with the Regina Pats. Leschyshyn was traded to the Pats by the Rebels as a 15-year-old prospect in 2015. He was traded for 19-year old forward Connor Gay, a first round selection in the 2016 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft, a second round pick in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft and a seventh round selection in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft.
The 2020 WHL Bantam Draft will be held on April 22 and streamed online.
In 2019, the Rebels did not have a first round pick. In 2018 they picked twice in the first round, selecting centre Jayden Grubbe seventh overall and defenceman Kyle Masters 16th. They picked winger Ethan Rowland 22nd overall in 2017 and defenceman Jacob Herauf in 15th in 2016.