For the rebuilding and rookie-leaden Red Deer Rebels to experience any success this season, the spotlight was always going to be on Brett Davis to deliver offensively.
So far, so good.
Davis is the Rebels’ top point producer four games into the season with two goals and three assists, putting the 20-year-old at an 85-point pace in the event that he plays all 68 regular season contests.
“I think I’ve had a pretty good start,” he said Monday. “With my personal game there’s always room for improvement and that’s kind of something I look to do every day in practice.”
While Davis is off to a fine start, the Rebels have opened up at 1-3-0-0, a mark the fifth-year WHL centre isn’t overly concerned about.
“As a team we want to get some more wins, for sure. It just comes down to getting our systems down pat and kind of (eliminating) little things in the game when it comes to turnovers and stuff like that,” he said.
As well as being perceived as probably the Rebels’ top forward, the native of Oakbank, Man., — a community situated 15 kilometres east of Winnipeg — has more on his plate this season than ever as an assistant captain and mentor to his younger teammates.
He welcomes the extra responsibilities while adding that he has numerous teammates with leadership abilities.
“It’s my fifth year in the league so I definitely see myself as a leader,” he said. “And I think with the veterans we have who aren’t wearing letters, they’re seen as leaders too.
“The four guys (including fellow alternate captains Cam Hausinger and Ethan Sakowich and captain Dawson Barteaux) who have letters on their jerseys, they’re not the only ones who are leading this young group.”
Davis was a top-end player with the Notre Dame bantam Hounds in 2013-14 and was selected by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the fourth round of the 2014 WHL bantam draft.
He went on to record a 21-goal, 47-point season as a 15-year-old with the Eastman Selects of the Manitoba Midget AAA League before joining the Hurricanes full-time for the 2015-16 campaign.
Davis, who picked up three assists in six games with Canada White in the World Under-17 Championship during his rookie WHL year, was dealt to the Kootenay Ice midway through the following season.
He was selected by the Dallas Stars in the fourth round of the 2017 NHL entry draft after scoring 18 goals and collecting 33 points in 59 games split between the ‘Canes and Ice, then broke through with 25 goals and 58 points with Kootenay in 2017-18.
The Rebels acquired Davis and Hausinger from the Ice in late November of last year and Davis went on to score 13 goals and add 18 assists in 41 games with Red Deer.
Davis skated on a line with Hausinger and Josh Tarzwell to start the current season and on Saturday, during a 5-1 loss to the visiting Calgary Hitmen, his linemates were Zak Smith and Keaton Sorensen.
“I think the coaches are just seeing what’s working and hoping to get some chemistry going,” said Davis.
The Stars neglected to sign Davis this past spring, making the 20-year-old a free agent, a status he plans on using to his advantage this season.
In other words, Davis is still hoping that he can play for pay next year.
“One hundred per cent, that’s my main goal — to get a pro contract. That’s definitely something I’m striving towards,” he said. “I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself this year. I’m just going to focus on what I can handle.”
Davis, who carries 192 pounds on his six-foot-one and one-half inch frame, absolutely believes that he still possesses the potential to play pro as early as next season.
“For sure. I can see myself growing a lot this year,” he said. “I had a great summer when it comes to training, I feel a lot stronger.
“I’m just going to take that on the ice and do my best and see where the chips fall.”
Rebels vs. Saskatoon Blades
Tonight, 7 p.m., Centrium
Saskatoon has a 1-2-0-0 record and sits fourth in the East Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference. The Blades, who went into the season as No. 3 in the CHL Top-10 rankings, are being paced offensively by overage D Scott Walford with three goals and five points, and LW Kyle Crnkovic (3g,0a) and C Tristen Robins (1g,2a), both with three points . . . Nolan Maier has manned the Blades goal all three games and possesses a 3.29 goals-against average and .882 save percentage . . . The Blades are still waiting on the Chicago Blackhawks to make a decision on star centre Kirby Dach, the third overall pick in this year’s NHL entry draft. Dach suffered a concussion Sept. 10 while playing in the Traverse City prospects tournament and hasn’t practised since. He is, however, skating on his own and the general consensus is the ‘Hawks will play him in nine games before making a decision. If he plays past nine games, the first year of his three-year entry level deal will kick in . . . Walford was picked by the Montreal Canadiens in the third round of the 2017 NHL draft and C Eric Florchuk was a seventh-round selection of the Washington Capitals the following year.
Injuries: Saskatoon — C Eric Florchuk (upper body, week-to-week). Red Deer — None to report .
Special teams: Saskatoon — Power play 33.3 per cent, third overall; penalty kill 80 per cent, 13th. Red Deer — Power play 15 per cent, 15th overall; penalty kill 82.4 per cent, 11th.