Zaytsev passed up in NHL Draft; no Rebel picked for first time in 27 years

It was a streak that was bound to end someday.

That someday came Saturday, when for the first time in franchise history after all the names were called, the Red Deer Rebels did not have a player selected in the NHL Draft.

It was the first time in the 27-year history of the team that they did not have a player picked.

Russian forward Oleg Zaytsev was the only player with a realistic shot at being one of the 217 names called, but after a subpar second half, interest waned in the talented centre.

He produced just 13 goals and 43 points in 66 games during his first stint in North America. Most of that production came in the first two months of the WHL season.

Still, Zaytsev was the 66th ranked North American skater on the final NHL Central Scouting list. He was also one of just 43 Canadian Hockey League prospects to participate in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game that took place in Red Deer.

Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter told Greg Meachem of it was “definitely surprising, to some degree” that Zaytsev wasn’t selected. Sutter also indicated that he wasn’t sure if Zaytsev will return next year and the team will be informed on Tuesday of his decision.

With that uncertainty and the likelihood of veteran defenceman Alex Alexeyev playing as a member of the AHL’s Hersey Bears next year, Red Deer will pick twice in the CHL Import Draft Thursday.

Alexeyev will participate in the Washington Capitals Rookie Camp this week. Defenceman Dawson Barteaux is also on his way to Dallas and will suit up at Stars Rookie Camp. Rebels winger Zak Smith also received an invite to the Vegas Golden Knights camp, which will get underway on Tuesday.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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