Rebels president and GM Brent Sutter moved Ethan Rowland to the Kamloops Blazers Monday with one eye on the present and the other on the future.
Rowland, who has been out since October with an upper body injury and likely won’t be back in action until mid- to late-February, is a veteran forward who was unlikely to play a prominent role with the Rebels upon his return due to the presence of several up-and-coming skaters on the roster.
“It’s a situation where our young kids have really stepped up to the forefront to earn more ice time,” said Sutter.
“I have to look at where we’re going to be a year down the road. These young kids are important to us. Steve (head coach Konowalchuk) and the coaching staff have done a good job of developing these young kids and a good job of putting them in the right situations to be successful and to continue to develop.
“We’re halfway through the season now and the coaches feel comfortable that they can play these kids in these situations.”
In return for the Calgary native, who was the team’s first-round pick — 22nd overall — in the 2017 draft, the Rebels received a fifth-round selection in the 2024 draft that could become a fourth-rounder if Rowland, 19, plays a certain number of games with the Blazers.
“Kamloops wanted an older player and Rollie now has an opportunity to not only go there and be a good player for them, but prove that he can be a 20-year-old in our league next year,” said Sutter.
“Here, I don’t know how much ice time he was going to get because of how our young players have played and the significant roles that they have on the team.”
Rowland’s age was clearly a deciding factor in the decision from the Rebels’ standpoint. He was one of four 19-year-old forwards on the team, the others being Ben King, Jace Isley and Dallon Melin.