Rebels hopeful for more success in U.S. Priority Draft
The Red Deer Rebels head into Wednesday’s WHL U.S. Priority Draft with the knowledge that they’ve had success with the event.
“So far we’re three-for-three in the first round,” Rebels associate general manager Shaun Sutter said Tuesday.
Sutter was referring to the fact that the Rebels’ first pick in the first-ever U.S. draft in 2020 was forward Gracyn Sawchyn, who while not committing to Red Deer is currently with the Seattle Thunderbirds following a trade in May 2021.
The Rebels did, however, sign each of their 2021 and 2022 U.S. first-rounders in defenceman Quentin Bourne (pictured above), who played with the team this past season, and forward Jeramiah Roberts, a favorite to crack the lineup next fall.
Both showed plenty of interest in signing with the team when they were drafted. Sutter said the Rebels will be looking for the same type of commitments this year.
“It’s no different than the other (WHL Prospects Draft), you just kind of communicate with parents and coaches and build a list based on your evaluations and then kind of pick that way,” he said.
Not all WHL teams take that approach in the U.S. draft, Sutter noted.
“It’s kind of like the (CHL) Import Draft in the sense that some teams just pick a name because he’s a good player and there might be zero chance to get him.
“Some teams try to figure out how interested some of these player are, if there’s any connection to maybe where the team is located. Basically the question is ‘will you come to training camp and give it a look.’”
In regards to Wednesday’s draft, the Rebels will rely heavily on the knowledge and connections of their U.S. scout, Adam Shaner, as they have in the past three drafts.
“Adam does a good job for us, he has a good network down there,” said Sutter.
The Rebels will draft 18th and 40th overall in the two-round draft.
With Bourne and Roberts committed to the Rebels by way of the U.S. draft, the team’s second-round pick from 2022, defenceman Quinten Flores, may follow the same path.
“He does have some interest. We’re hoping and expecting that he’ll be at training camp,” said Sutter.