You can’t teach size and potential is something that’s pretty much always there.
Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter has both of those attributes in newly acquired 16-year-old forward Dallon Melin.
“He’s a big kid and his skating has improved tremendously,” Sutter said Wednesday, one day after completing a trade with the Victoria Royals for the six-foot-three, 195-pound Melin. “He had a decent year in midget triple A last season and he did a lot of good things this summer training-wise. He’s also a very smart player.”
Melin scored six goals and added 14 assists in 27 games with the Sherwood Park midget AAA Kings as a 15-year-old last winter.
He was selected by Omaha in the 10th round of the United States Hockey League draft in May and enjoyed a successful rookie camp with the Lancers in July.
Melin, Victoria’s second-round pick in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, recently attended the Royals rookie camp and was the top scorer among the players attending.
“Just with how he’s progressed, there’s certainly such a huge upside for him,” said Sutter. “That’s why we made the trade.”
The Royals were basically forced to deal Melin, who left Victoria after rookie camp with every intention of joining the junior A Camrose Kodiaks and pursuing a U.S. college scholarship.
“I was planning on playing in Camrose and then heard that Red Deer might be interested in me. I kind of looked into it and it just kind of worked out,” said Melin, a native of Czar, which is located about 240 km east of Red Deer.
“It’s really good to be close to home. The parents can come and watch whenever.”
Sutter requested permission from the Royals to talk to Melin and after speaking to his parents was confident a trade could be completed.
“He was unsure whether he wanted to play in the WHL or the NCAA,” said the Rebels boss. “Shaun (assistant GM Sutter) and I reached out to the family and they decided that they wanted him to play in Red Deer.
“We certainly wouldn’t have pursued this if we didn’t think he can be a really good player in this league and someone who has the potential to be a pro player.
“We paid a price, a second-round pick, but that’s where Victoria took him. That’s kind of where we had him ranked ourselves but we didn’t have a second-round pick that year.”
Melin, who picked up a single assists in three games with the AJHL Kodiaks last season, insisted there were no bad feelings, certainly not on his part, when he left Victoria
“I liked it there a lot, I have nothing bad to say about (the Royals). It just didn’t feel like the right fit for me,” he said.
And what makes the Rebels the proper fit?
“Just the reputation this organization has,” said Melin, who potted 23 goals and collected 62 points in 36 games with the AAA Camrose Red Wings in his bantam draft year. “Brent is a good coach and has a long history. I just thought it would be a good fit for my style of play.”
“I think my strengths are down low, in front of the net, protecting the puck,” he said. “I try to play physical as much as I can, use my size. I try to be responsible in the D-zone, something I have to work on all the time.
“Brent told me to just come here and play my game. I want to show that I can play here.”
As well as giving up a second-round draft pick — the Rebels still own two second-rounders in 2019 — in the trade, Sutter bid adieu to third-year forward Cutler, who was a remote long shot to play on the club’s top two lines this season.
‘With our situation here with ‘Cuts’, we have a lot of young players and we wanted to make room for some of these kids,” said Sutter. “At the end of the day Brandon probably wasn’t going to be happy here being in the role he would have to play.
“We thought it was best to give him a chance somewhere else and (the Royals) had interest in ‘Cuts’. Everything seemed like it would be a good fit for both teams at this point in time. It made sense for both teams.”
In a separate transaction Tuesday, Sutter shipped 18-year-old rearguard Sam Pouliot to the Swift Current Broncos in return for a conditional draft pick.
“Same thing with ‘Pouls’. He didn’t want to stay in Red Deer if he wasn’t going to be a top-six defenceman and he wasn’t going to be that on our team,” said Sutter. “We have a lot of returning defencemen and (Ryan) Gottfried has really stepped up and the Leslie boy (Chase) is a really good defenceman.
“‘Pouls’ was behind those guys, so he gets the opportunity to go somewhere else. Swift Current is going to give him a chance to make their team and now it’s up to him to go out there and show that he can play in the league and hopefully be a top-six defenceman.”
The Rebels will take on the Lethbridge Hurricanes in a preseason contest Saturday at Wainwright.