A new challenge and a new opportunity.
That’s how newly acquired Red Deer Rebels defenceman Marek Schneider is approaching his newfound home in the Western Hockey League (WHL) after he was acquired in a trade with the Saskatoon Blades on Wednesday.
In return, Red Deer sent a fourth-round pick at the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft, and a conditional fourth-round selection at the 2026 WHL Prospects Draft to Saskatoon.
Despite his elation to join the Rebels, Schneider was initially shocked to be on the move.
“Afterwards I was pretty excited to come to Red Deer knowing that they’re the winningest team and a hard-working team,” he said.
The 19-year-old made the jump from the Blades who are also having a successful season sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference right behind the Rebels.
The native of Prince Albert, Sask. plays a stay-at-home style and likes to take care of business on the defensive end before joining in on the offensive play.
He has eight points in 78 career games with the Blades and in 14 games this season he has contributed a goal and an assist on the backend.
“I just want to make sure I bring hard work, grit and I want to make sure that I do a really good job on the penalty kill, eat a lot of shots, and make sure I put my body on the line every night,” he said.
Standing six feet two inches tall and 196 pounds he was picked 30th overall in round two of the 2018 WHL Prospects Draft by the Blades.
His brother, Braden, was a Brandon Wheat Kings star before he was drafted by the New York Rangers in the first round, 19th overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Braden has become a regular in the Rangers lineup and has established himself as an effective two-way rearguard.
“I keep in touch with him quite a bit and he just said to get one per cent better every day and make sure you come in every day wanting to get better,” he said.
On Wednesday Schneider got to know his new teammates on the ice and admitted he isn’t necessarily new to Red Deer as he spent a week or so in the city as a member of Team Saskatchewan in the 2018 Canada Winter Games.
Schneider is joining a solid and formidable group of six defencemen who have helped the Rebels reach second place in the Eastern Conference so far.
“It’s a very deep group, very experienced, especially with Sedoff, Lindgren, Mayo, and Weir. They’re all really good guys too so I’m really excited,” he said.
Rebels assistant general manager Shaun Sutter said after they lost defencemen Tayem Gislason and Logan Cunningham to personal reasons the team has been down to just six players on the backend for a few weeks.
“It’s just not sustainable over the course of a season. Guys get wear and tear and in fairness to everybody, they need to have roster flexibility. It’s no different than the forwards too that you want to have the opportunity to play pairings and create some chemistry … There’s nobody going with six defencemen you know everyone usually has seven or eight,” he said.
Schneider is a player the organization sees who can contribute to the lineup night in and night out. Sutter said he can bring a veteran presence, leadership, and maturity to the lineup.
“He moves well, skates well, plays hard, defends hard, and is an effective penalty killer,” he said. “He’s a guy who’s got experience in the league and understands the grind and how to prepare. He’s a really hardworking kid off the ice and really good in the locker room too.”
Sutter said the move solidifies their defensive group and explained Schneider compliments the core well. The fact he’s a right-handed shot was an attractive asset and makes pairing decisions more balanced because they tend to pair right-handed players with left-handed ones.
The Rebels’ next game is against the Central Division rival Medicine Hat Tigers Friday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium at 7 p.m.