Dmytriw happy to get a new start with Rebels
To Jared Dmytriw, the shock of being dealt from the only WHL team he had known was tempered by the news that he was coming to Red Deer.
“To get the initial news was a surprise to me,” Dmytriw said Wednesday, prior to a practice session at the Centrium.
“But to come to an organization like this in Red Deer, a city with such a big hockey background, and to have a coach like Brent (Sutter) here, I’m excited. And I’m settling in with the guys a little more.”
In a swap of 19-year-olds, Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter sent defenceman Jared Freadrich to the Victoria Royals last week in return for Dmytriw, a speedy forward who scored 15 goals last season.
The Craven, Sask., native joined his new club for the Tri-City Americans preseason tournament last weekend and liked what he saw.
“It’s a really good group of guys. Even with the guys (at NHL camps) who are missing there’s a lot of skill in that room and I think we’re going to have a really good year,” said Dmytriw. “I’m excited for that.”
While his newest acquisition was held pointless in the Rebels’ two games in the Americans tournament, Sutter had no qualms about Dmytriw’s play.
“He’s a real quick guy who’s a responsible player and a strong guy,” said the Rebels boss. “The thing we just want to see him improve on is his offensive ability. He has skill but he just has to have the confidence to bring it out and make and finish plays.
“He creates stuff because of his speed and that’s what I like about him. We were happy with the way he played.”
Dmytriw seldom played above the third line during his three seasons in Victoria and is anticipating that he’ll be given a bigger role with the Rebels.
“For sure, coming in here I’m going to be relied upon more to produce a bit more offensively,” he said. “I wasn’t necessarily given an opportunity to do that in Victoria and I think Red Deer will give me an opportunity and I’m excited for that.”
The Rebels’ top line to start the regular season will likely consist of Lane Zablocki, Brandon Hagel and Kristian Reichel, provided all three players are back from NHL camps.
Dmytriw, then, could combine with fellow speedsters Mason McCarty and Grayson Pawlenchuk to provide the Rebels with a second veteran unit that could perform at a rapid pace.
“My speed is definitely one of my biggest assets,” said Dmytriw. “I also play a 200-foot game. I like to take care of my defensive zone — I take pride in that — and also playing an offensive game is definitely one of my strengths.”
Sutter is confident his club will feature four solid lines this season and won’t be referring to any particular set of forwards as his ‘top six.’
“Being four lines deep we don’t want to get caught up in the top-six thing. We’re going to be more balanced, a four-line team,” he said.
“We know who our top line is going to be and that line will bring a bit of everything, then we’ll find a match for the next line, whether it will consist of (Akash) Bains, Pawly (Pawlenchuk), McCarty, Dmytriw or Reese Johnson . . . they’re all solid players,” added Sutter, who is convinced 17-year-olds Chris Douglas, Austin Schellenberg and Brandon Cutler can form another effective unit.
“Outside of McCarty, none of them have proven they can put up big offensive numbers yet, but they’re all really solid guys and we expect production from all of that group. We’ll sort through it but we have the depth to do that.”
Dmytriw, meanwhile, is thankful for the change in scenery.
“Being in Victoria since I was 15, since I was drafted, I built a lot of relationships and friendships,” he said. “There were some tough goodbyes but to be able to come out here with a fresh start is really exciting.”
Three prospects reassigned Tuesday
River Fahey, Zak Smith and Blake Sydlowski, all 16, showed plenty of promise through training camp and the majority of the Rebels’ preseason schedule, but they weren’t quite ready for prime time.
As a result, Sutter reassigned the trio of forwards Tuesday. Smith will join the Neepawa Natives of the MJHL while Fahey and Sydlowski will play at the midget AAA level this season with North Island — based in Nanaimo, B.C. — and St. Albert, respectively.
“They are 16 years old and not quite ready to be guys who can be everyday players for us,” said Sutter. “That’s what it really comes down to. We just didn’t want to hinder their development.”
Sutter pointed out that the team is in a different situation this fall as compared to a year ago, when the Rebels were coming off a season in which they were Memorial Cup hosts.
“We needed to fill roster spots last year and this year we have lots of depth, both up front and on the back end,” he noted.
The fact that the Rebels are already top heavy with 17-year-olds, including four forwards, four defenceman and a goaltender of that age, keeping one or more even younger players didn’t make sense.
“It’s (already) a fairly young team and we just didn’t want to have to implement some 16-year-olds into the lineup who we didn’t think were quite ready to handle every-game minutes,” said Sutter. “The best thing for them is to get back and be star players on their teams and play a ton.”
Reichel back from Jets camp
Forward Kristian Reichel, selected in this year’s CHL import draft, returned to the Rebels Tuesday after attending the Winnipeg Jets prospects camp — as a free agent — and playing in the Young Stars tournament in Penticton.
“He played really well. I had a couple of NHL teams talk to me about him during the tournament and they think he’s a player who’s on the radar to be drafted (next year),” said Sutter. “I know the Jets were happy with him.”
Still away are forwards Grayson Pawlenchuk (Edmonton), Brandon Hagel (Buffalo) and Lane Zablocki (Detroit), and defenceman Ethan Sakowich (Boston).
Pawlenchuk was set to suit up for an Oilers rookie game Wednesday and Sutter suspects he’ll hear more on the overage forward’s situation Thursday.
Meanwhile, Sutter said he hadn’t heard from Sakowich and said Zablocki and Hagel will attend main camps with their respective NHL teams.
“Buffalo will keep Hages around and get him into main camp and make a decision next week,” said Sutter. “We knew Zabo would be going to main camp (with Detroit) and he has a return flight booked for Monday, although that could change.”
The Rebels wrap up their preseason slate with a Saturday engagement with the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers.