The numbers are up but the message will be the same.
Whereas in past years when no more than 23 players attended the Red Deer Rebels prospects camp, the 2013 edition — set for Friday to Sunday at the Penhold Regional Multiplex — will feature 34 participants.
“We’ll have enough players that we can have 17 on each team, so we’ll scrimmage more than we did in the past,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said Wednesday. “We’ll run a short practice, maybe 20 minutes, and then move right into the games.”
The list of camp players is longer this year because all 12 of the club’s 17-year-old prospects (1996-born) have been invited and will be under the close watch of Sutter, associate coach Jeff Truitt and newly-hired assistant Steve O’Rourke.
“I think it’s really important for myself, Jeff and now Steve to see what we have in our system and get a feel for where we’re at moving forward,” said Sutter. “We’ll be able to assess what the players need to work on and what roles they can fill on our team.
“This is especially true of our 17-year-olds because they have to push to make our team this year. They’re the ones we want to sit down with this summer and even through this camp so that when they come back in the fall (for main camp) they’re clear on what will be expected of them if they’re going to play in Red Deer.”
The prospects camp roster also includes all of this year’s bantam draft selections — nine in total, including first-rounder Jeff de Wit of Red Deer — as well as various listed players, including ‘94-born goaltender Tanner Kovacs, an Innisfail native who has WHL experience with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and last season was with the Whitecourt Wolverines of the AJHL.
The camp runs from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, 3:45 to 5:45 p.m. Saturday and 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday.
The players and parents will meet with Rebels mental performance consultant Derek Robinson Friday evening and on Saturday will visit Can-Pro Athletic Training Centre and will be introduced to a conditioning program by the team’s strength and conditioning coach, Al Parada.
“Al will talk to the players and give them a feel for what they need to work on through the summer,” said Sutter.
“Overall, it’s a good weekend for everybody in the sense that we’re not evaluating the players so much in this camp. It’s more of an orientation camp where they can all come in can see where they’re at compared to other guys . . . what they need to work on this summer in order to be ready for the fall camp.
“When they come back in the fall, the new kids, especially, are more comfortable because they know the surroundings. They know what to expect because everything isn’t so new to them.”
The Red Deer Rebels prospects camp roster (with year of birth; *denotes bantam draft pick, either 2012 or ‘13);
Goaltenders — *Grant Naherniak, ‘96; Rylan Toth, ‘96’; *Taz Burman, ‘97; Tanner Kovacs, ‘94.
Defencemen — Holden Daley, ‘96; Connor Hamonic, ‘96; *Jake MacLachlan, ‘96; Kaleb Denham, ‘96; Austin Shmoorkoff, ‘97; *Austin Strand, ‘97; *Josh Mahura, ‘98; *Nick Darling, ‘98; *Cale Chalifoux, ‘98; *Max Salpeter, ‘98; *Kyle Sargent, ‘98.
Forwards — *Vukie Mpofu, ‘96; Cole Chorney, ‘96; Mathieu Lapointe, ‘96; *Earl Webb, 96; Lynnden Pastachak, ‘96; *Meyer Nell, ‘96; *Grayson Pawlenchuk, ‘97; Tom Friesen, ‘97; *Adam Musil, ‘97; *Brayden Burke, ‘97; Wyatt Kalynuk, ‘97; Tanner Laderoute, ‘97; Bryson Traptow, ‘97; *Mason McCarty, ‘97; *Jeff de Wit, ‘98; *Caleb Riess, ‘98; *Josh Logel, ‘98; *Tyler Kirkup, ‘98; Cody Illerbrun, ‘98.