Rebels Prepare For Bantam Draft
Once the first round of Thursday’s WHL bantam draft is complete, the Red Deer Rebels will be looking for quantity as well as quality.
The Rebels have just three picks in the first six rounds — a first, which is No. 10 overall due to last season’s trade that sent Jake Leschyshyn to Regina in return for the Pats’ first-rounder this year — plus a fourth and a sixth.
As a result, the Rebels, with assistant GM/director of player personnel Shaun Sutter calling the shots, will stick around the draft table in Calgary in the hopes of unearthing a gem or two in the later rounds while most other teams have passed.
Sutter said Tuesday that the Rebels won’t be attempting to fill a particular need when they pick at No. 10.
“When you have a pick that high in the first round you’re taking the best player available,” he said. “You can’t really pinpoint a position.
“We’ll have to wait to see what falls to us. Who knows, there are always things that come up that you don’t expect. We’re prepared for whatever comes at us.”
The Rebels, who dealt away their second, third- and fifth-round picks while building their present Memorial Cup host team, have Spokane’s fourth rounder and a sixth-round selection from Kamloops, both acquired by trade.
They have their own seventh-round pick and on and will remain at the table possibly until the 12th to 13th rounds.
Sutter is confident the Rebels will land a promising prospect with their first-round selection.
“We’re pretty confident we’re going to get a good player,” he said. “The first round is pretty deep. There’s probably about 40 guys and then it kind of dips a bit.
“But we’ve drafted some good players in the middle rounds and even later. You have to have your eye out and be on top of things to get that next guy.”
Sutter is highly unlikely to nab one of the prospects he rates in the top three — namely forwards Peyton Krebs of Okotoks and Kirby Dachs of Fort Saskatchewan, and defenceman Bowen Byram of Lethbridge.
“Those guys are really good and then some other players are probably good enough to push into that area as well,” said Sutter. “It’s a pretty strong year for the top 10. There are going to be guys who after the top five would be top-end guys any other year.”
Others players who could be top-10 picks include British Columbia forwards Sasha Mutala and Josh Williams, six-foot-five defenceman Jackson Van de leest of B.C., and forward Logan Barlage and rearguard Kaedan Korczak of Saskatchewan. Korczak played with the midget AAA Yorkton Maulers this season, partnered with Rebels prospect Carson Sass while still eligible to play at the bantam level.
Taylor Gauthier of Calgary and Trent Miner of Brandon are the top goaltender prospects available in this year’s draft. Forward Cole Muir joins Miner as the premier prospects from Manitoba.
It’s shaping up as a strong year for Alberta. Sutter said all six all-stars at the recent Alberta Cup — Krebs, fellow forwards Ethan Browne of Sherwood Park and Brayden Tracy of Calgary, goalie Ethan Kruger and defenceman Matthew Robertson of Sherwood Park and Calgary blueliner Zack Ashton of Calgary — will be drafted.
“Browne, in terms of skill set, is as good as any player in the draft,” said Sutter.
Power forward Deegan Moffard of Rocky Mountain House will likely be the first Central Alberta player selected.
“He’ll probably be the top kid from around here. It’s pretty thin this year for local players,” said Sutter.
Moffard suited up with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels this season, as did defenceman Jackson Rider of Lacombe, whom Sutter feels could also be selected.
“It’s the type of draft where there will be good players available in the second round,” said Sutter. “It will be interesting to see how it unfolds in the top two rounds.”