Rebels select son of former NHL forward Robert Reichel in CHL import draft
If bloodlines are any indication, the Red Deer Rebels landed a keeper in Wednesday’s Canadian Hockey League import draft.
The Rebels selected Czech Republic centre Kristian Reichel, the son of long-time NHL forward Robert Reichel, 27th overall. Red Deer actually picked 23rd as four teams passed earlier in the draft.
“He’s a real solid, two-way player who’s a good offensive guy. He’s a good power-play guy with a good shot,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
“Our reports from overseas is that he’s going to really help our power play and be a good offensive guy for us.”
Reichel, who turned 19 on June 11, scored two goals and collected eight points last season with HC Litvinov of the professional Czech First League. In additional, he notched two goals and added one assist in three games with Most of the Czech Second League.
Reichel also suited up with his home country in the World Junior Championship. He was held pointless in five games while being used in a checking role.
Reichel competed for the Czech Republic in another international event — the World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville — earlier in the season and was selected as a first-team all star after sniping two goals and recording five points in five games.
The fact that he plays down the middle made Reichel particularly attractive to the Rebels. As did the fact he has pretty much committed to joining the team.
“We needed to get a centre iceman, we don’t have any natural centres,” said Sutter. “Shaun (Rebels assistant GM/director of player personnel Sutter) had his eyes on different guys and he was a player, among those who we knew were coming, who was our best option at that point (in the draft).
“When you get into this draft you’re taking the best player available who you know has a legitimate chance to come over. That’s where we’re at.”
The Rebels boss doesn’t anticipate Reichel having a tough time adjusting to a new country and the North American style of Hockey.
“I spoke to him on the phone and he speaks good English,” said Sutter. “His dad played in the NHL and his transition in coming to North America is going to be very small.”
Reichel will attend a Czech Republic world junior team camp this summer and will also play in the Four Nations Cup before heading to Red Deer in August.
“He’s a solid, two-way guy who we will lose to the world juniors at Christmas,” said Sutter.
The addition of Reichel and the presence of promising Russian defenceman Alexander Alexeyev, who will enter his second WHL season this fall, gives the Rebels their allotment of two imports.