Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rebels Go Prospecting

Even though I’ll only be around for the first day, I’m quite looking forward to this year’s edition of the Red Deer Rebels annual prospects camp.

34 players will hit the ice at the Penhold Multiplex Friday (3-5pm), Saturday (3:45-5:45pm) and Sunday (9-11am) with all three sessions open to the public.

If 34 seems like a high of players number that’s because, compared to past years, it is. Usually, somewhere around two dozen players come to town for this annual camp. The increased camp roster will provide a new and interesting dynamic.
“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 told Greg Meachem (@GregMeachem) of the Red Deer Advocate.
It makes sense. It can only help these up and coming players to put them head to head and see what they’re made of. Let them measure themselves against each other so see where they are now and where they need to be in order to someday make this team.

Among the group of 34 players coming to camp, there are a few I am especially interested to have a look at…

Adam Musil (F)… It goes without saying that the Rebels have sky high hopes for their 6th overall pick in last year’s WHL Bantam Draft. Adam did not look out of place whatsoever in his appearance with the Rebels during last year’s playoffs. Size. Skill. Confidence. His expected emergence as a top centreman for this club is a big reason why Joel Hamilton became expendable (traded to Vancouver).

Grant Naherniak and Taz Burman (G)… It’s no secret that the Rebels biggest question mark at the moment sits between the pipes. With CHL Goaltender of the Year Patrik Bartosak’s status up in the air (depending largely on whether he is selected in the NHL Entry Draft… safe to say he will be) and Bolton Pouliot seemingly not in the club’s future plans, there is opportunity for at least one goaltender to step up and seize a roster spot. Naherniak made his way into three games for the Rebels last season and as far as I can remember didn’t look too out of place. With that being said, Burman’s stock is high in the eyes of Brent Sutter and will have every opportunity to surpass Naherniak on the depth chart. For the record, Naherniak was selected 109th overall in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft while Burman was selected 30th overall last year.

Vukie Mpofu (F)… Vukie’s name comes up quite often with good reason. When it became apparent that he didn’t fit into the Rebels fold as a defenceman, Mpofu was moved up to forward permanently. How did he respond? By leading all Saskatchewan Midget AAA players in scoring 71 points in 43 games, that’s how. He’s also racked up some top notch experience by playing in both the 2012 and 2013 Telus Cup tournaments with the Saskatoon Contacts. His speed, puck handling, and confidence make him an exciting player to watch. The Rebels third pick in the 2011 bantam draft (behind Conner Bleackley and Haydn Fleury) Mpofu can make that draft class look even better by becoming a contributor this upcoming season.

Kaleb Denham (D)… Sizeable defenceman acquired in a trade this past season with Tri City. Denham fought through injuries this past season while with the midget AAA Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. He has the size (6’3") to help him become the big, physical type of defenceman Brent Sutter tends to love having on his teams.

Brayden Burke (F)… At the opposite end of the scale (he stands about 5’6” weighing a whopping 125 lbs.) Burke dazzled onlookers at times during last year’s main training camp and Black and White scrimmage game. It’ll be interesting to see if Burke has managed to grow, both physically and skills-wise, since then.

The full prospects camp roster looks like this (listed alphabetically, birth year in parenthesis)…

Taz Burman (97)
Grant Naherniak (96)
Tanner Kovacs (94)
Rylan Toth (96)

Cale Chalifoux (98)
Holden Daley (96)
Nick Darling (98)
Kaleb Denham (96)
Conner Hamonic (96)
Josh Mahura (98)
Jake McLachlan (96)
Max Salpeter (98)
Kyle Sargent (98)
Austin Shmoorkoff (97)
Austin Strand (97)

Brayden Burke (97)
Cole Chorney (96)
Jeff de Wit (98)
Tom Friesen (97)
Cody Illerbrun (98)
Wyatt Kalynuk (97)
Tyler Kirkup (98)
Tanner Laderoute (97)
Mathieu Lapointe (96)
Josh Logel (98)
Mason McCarty (97)
Vukie Mpofu (96)
Adam Musil (97)
Meyer Nell (96)
Lynnden Pastachak (96)
Grayson Pawlenchuk (97)
Caleb Riess (98)
Bryson Traptow (97)
Earl Webb (96)

Calvin Bellows (@exposureproductions) and I will be there tomorrow as we work on some camp stuff for “Rebels This Week” (@rebelsthisweek). We’ll chat with a few of prospects as well as coach Sutter amongst others.

See you at the rink!


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