The Red Deer Rebels are hoping that the best is yet to come for recently acquired centre Craig Armstrong.
The Rebels acquired the 19-year-old from the Prince George Cougars on Tuesday in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft, a fourth-round selection in 2024 and a fifth-round pick in 2025.
The Cougars snared the Crossfield native with the ninth overall pick in the 2018 Prospect Draft after Armstrong scored 23 goals and collected 54 points in 34 regular season games, and then added 14 goals and 24 points in 13 playoff contests.
He spent the following season with the Edge School Prep team, notching 12 goals and recording 28 points in 29 regular season outings, and two goals and a single assist in three playoff games.
Armstrong recently completed his third season with the Cougars, accumulating 12 goals and 35 points in 67 games.
He also plays bigger than his size, five-foot-seven and 174 pounds, as evidenced by the 69 penalty minutes he registered in his WHL draft season and 57 minutes he recorded last season.
“He’s a 19-year-old player who was a high draft pick in our league and a guy who when he’s on and playing the right way is a thorn to play against,” said Rebels GM Brent Sutter.
“He’s hard to play against, someone you like on your team and not having to play against him. We just think if he figures the game out to be more consistent from game to game he’s a guy who can contribute offensively.”
Sutter sees another advantage in adding Armstrong to the Red Deer roster — leadership.
“He’s been in the league for three years so it’s nice to be able to add some experience to our group and be a good complimentary player,” said the Rebels boss. “That’s important because we’re going to be pretty young up front. We could have six or seven 17-year-olds on our team up front. We needed to add some experience to the group.”
Sutter also likes the fact that Armstrong plays with some bite despite his lack of size.
“He’s not big but he has a big heart and plays hard,” he said. “He’s a tough player to play against. He reminds us of Jhett (Larson), a player of similar stature who plays hard.”