As a self-described two-way defenceman, Dawson Barteaux is clearly excelling in at least one part of his game.
A mere five games into the current Western Hockey League season, the 17-year-old rearguard has already matched his points total from all of the 2016-17 campaign.
“It’s been pretty good. It’s nice to see a couple points up on the board,” Barteaux said Friday. “That’s always a treat and hopefully we can get some more team success going.”
The product of Foxwarren, Man., has four assists this fall, the same number he managed last season in 18 games with the Regina Pats and another 27 outings — including three in the playoffs — with the Rebels, who acquired the blueliner from the Pats in a multi-player deal in January.
While he’s still looking for his first-ever WHL goal, Barteaux clearly has an offensive flair which he developed in minor hockey.
“In my second year of bantam (with the Yellowhead Chiefs, based in Shoal Lake, Man.) and my first year of midget I got a lot of opportunities being on the power play and a lot of opportunities to play some offence,” he said.
“I had the skating and the skill set to be able to come back and play ‘D’ too. Hopefully I can keep that offence going here.”
The Pats clearly liked what they saw in Barteaux, taking him in the first round of the 2015 WHL bantam draft. The talented defender went on to record a seven-goal, 27-point season with the midget AAA Chiefs in 2015-16 before graduating to the Pats last fall.
While he’s rounding into form on both sides of his game, Barteaux knows he can be better when it comes to performing on his own side of the red line.
“My D-zone play has to be better. I want to improve my overall game, but certainly my defensive game and probably my aggression,” he stated. “I want to be more aggressive and play a little more in your-face type of game.”
As he continues to gain weight and strength, the six-foot-one, 176-pound Barteaux will likely develop a more physical style while continuing to see duty on the Rebels’ power play.
In the meantime, he’s been a consistent performer on the team’s back end.
“He’s been steady,” said Red Deer GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “He’s getting an opportunity to play more than he has in the past and he’s still got a ways to go with continuing to develop as a player as far as getting that aggression in his game and being harder on pucks, just not being a poke-check type defenceman.
“But for the most part, he’s been good. Barts has played well. I’ve liked the young (defencemen), the way they’ve played.”
It was announced this week that Barteaux is among 27 WHL players to watch for the 2018 NHL entry draft, as per Central Scouting. He’s currently listed as a ‘C’ prospect, as a player projected to be drafted in the fifth/sixth rounds.
“I’m not too worried about that, but obviously it’s a nice surprise seeing my name there,” he said.
The Rebels will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak when they host the Brandon Wheat Kings Saturday.
“We started off pretty strong (with three straight wins), but we had a rough little road trip,” said Barteaux, who suited up with the Canada Red squad in the most recent world under-17 championship. “But I’m sure we can get back into the win column.”
Four games per team shaved off 2017-18 schedule
The Western Hockey League governors, in an attempt to cut travelling time, increase practice time and avoid more weekday games, have decided to adopt a 68-game schedule next season.
“There are a lot of reasons why,” said Sutter. “It aligns us with the other two CHL leagues (Ontario and Quebec), and when you get into scheduling and get down to the last three to four games it’s almost impossible to get dates.
“You’re taking games on bad dates and the reality is buildings are getting busier. We’re making two trips to Victoria this season just because we couldn’t get both games in on one trip. That’s just one example.”
Other factors weighed into the decision, Sutter noted.
“Players will now have more practice time, more opportunities to work on skills,” he said. “And then there’s the education side of it. Players will have more time in the classroom.
“There were certainly some really good conversations (during recent WHL meetings). All teams had their views and at the end of the day this is the right thing for our league.”
Rebels vs. Brandon Wheat Kings
Saturday, 7 p.m., Centrium
The Wheat Kings took a 1-2-0-1 record into Friday’s game versus the host Edmonton Oil Kings and sat fifth in the East Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference . . . LW Ty Lewis led all Brandon scorers with 10 points (2g,8a) prior to Friday’s contest and was ninth in league scoring, while C Stelio Mattheos (5-2-7), C Tanner Kaspick (2-2-4), C Connor Gutenberg (1-3-4) and D Kale Clague (0-4-4-) were also averaging a point per game or better . . . Logan Thompson was 25th among WHL goaltenders with a 4.31 goals-against average. He also possessed a save percentage of .882 . . . The Wheat Kings and Rebels have already met once this season, with the Rebels posting a 5-4 shootout win last Friday at Brandon.
Injuries: Brandon — D Daniel Bukak (lower body, to be determined), D James Shearer (lower body, TBD). Red Deer — LW Dawson Martin (upper body, indefinite), G Riley Lamb (upper body, indefinite), D Alexander Alexeyev (upper body, indefinite).
Special teams: Brandon — Power play 41.2 per cent (prior to Friday), second overall; penalty kill 78.3 per cent, 11th. Red Deer — Power play 30.8 per cent, fifth overall; penalty kill 68.2 per cent, 19th.