Cohner Saleski accepted a change of address in a practical, professional manner.
The newest member of the Red Deer Rebels had no problem with last week’s trade which saw the former Prince Albert Raiders first-round bantam draft pick head further west.
“I know it’s a business and obviously it happens to a lot of guys,” the Saskatoon native said Thursday. “A lot of guys get traded at some point. I wasn’t sad coming here. I was excited and it’s been good.
“I really like the guys (new teammates). It’s a really nice place here and I’ve gotten comfortable pretty quickly.”
Saleski, a five-foot-nine, 168-pound winger, was selected 17th overall by the Raiders in the 2017 WHL bantam draft after scoring 43 goals and recording 85 points in 30 games with the Saskatoon Stallions.
He moved on to the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts the following season and notched five goals and 15 points in 24 games, then put up 28 points (9g,19a) in 24 games with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos last winter.
Saleski also played four games with the Raiders over the last two years, collecting one assist in the process, but didn’t make the club this fall.
Was Saleski given a fair shot with the defending WHL champs?
“Every team is different and guys have different roles based on what the team has,” he said. “In the coming years maybe I would have been more of an attribute there. But this year they have another pretty good team so maybe the younger guys weren’t looked upon as such.”
Whatever, the Raiders are in the past for Saleski, who recorded his second WHL career point last weekend, picking up an assist in Red Deer’s 5-1 win at Swift Current. He appeared in his second contest with his new team the following night in Medicine Hat, where the Rebels prevailed 4-3 in overtime.
“The first game was a good one to get out of the way and the second one was one where you have to maintain your consistency and just keep going,” he said. “Now I just want to keep it going here, keep producing.”
Saleski described himself as a player who likes to perform at a high tempo.
“I like to play with speed and handle pucks and create turnovers,” he said. “I like to shoot with a quick release. Just like to do everything all around quick, just do everything at full speed.”
Saleski is the 12th 17-year-old on the Rebels roster and hopefully an important piece of the team’s rebuild moving forward.
“I’ver bonded really well with all the younger guys,” he said. “We all get each other. We’re in the same place and in the coming years we’re going to have a pretty good squad here.”
Rebels assistant general manager Shaun Sutter sees Saleski as a talented skater with plenty of upside.
“He’s got really good skill, he can really shoot, really skate,” said Sutter. “Even though he’s a smaller guy, he’s a real competitive guy. He has a thicker body so even though he’s short in stature, he’s pretty strong.”
Plus, Saleski fits in well with what the Rebels are trying to build, which is a contending team in one or two year’s time.
“We’re looking for guys in a certain age bracket but Cohner also has that pedigree,” said Sutter. “They have good depth in Prince Albert and sometimes a change of scenery is good for the player.
“We’re hoping that things go well for him here because he has the talent and the pedigree.”
The Rebels also swung another deal last week, acquiring the WHL rights to 16-year-old defenceman Noah Barlage in exchange for rearguard Ryan Gottfried.
“What happened there (Seattle) is they ran into a slew of injuries and needed someone to come in and play and help them. Ryan Gottfried can help them,” said Sutter.
The Rebels also recieved a seventh-round pick in the 2022 WHL draft, but Barlage was the key acquisition. The six-foot, 165-pound blueliner is currently with his hometown Humboldt Broncos of the SJHL.
“We wanted to get someone to go with what we’re doing,” said Sutter, in reference to the rebuild. “Barlage has the talent to play in our league and now it will be up to him what he wants to do.”
The younger brother of Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Logan Barlage will likely remain with the Broncos through the 2019-20 season.
“We’ll see how he develops as the winter goes on,” said Sutter.
The Rebels, boasting the No. 1 penalty kill in the league, host the Portland Winter Hawks Friday.
Rebels vs. Portland Winter Hawks
Friday, 7 p.m., Centrium
The Hawks are coming off Wednesday’s 8-2 win at Swift Current after opening their Central Division trip with losses at Lethbridge, Calgary and Medicine Hat. Portland owns a 4-3-0-0 record and sits second in the U.S. Division and third in the Western Conference . . . Leading the Winter Hawks offensively are D Johnny Ludvig, a third-round pick of Florida in this year’s NHL entry draft, who has scored four goals and added four assists, and C Reece Newkirk (1g,7a), each with eight points. Newkirk was selected by the NY Islanders in the fifth round of the 2019 NHL draft. C Seth Jarvis (2-5) and C Jake Gricius (1-6) have each produced seven points for the Hawks . . . No. 1 netminder Joel Hofer, a fourth-round pick of the St. Louis Blues in the 2018 NHL entry draft, sports a 2.52 goals-against average and .909 save percentage.
Injuries: Portland — D Kurtis Smythe (upper body, day-to-day). Red Deer — LW Jace Isley (upper body, week-to-week).
Special teams: Portland — Power play 28 per cent, third overall; penalty kill 79.4 per cent, 12th. Red Deer — Power play 20.6 per cent, 11th overall; penalty kill 90 per cent, first.