A week that began as quiet as a ghost town on the trade front for the Red Deer Rebels quickly shifted into an extremely big splash.
Though the Rebels made only one trade ahead the Western Hockey League Trade Deadline, it may have been the biggest one of the day across the league as the Rebs dealt 18-year-olds Josh Mahura and Jeff DeWit, along with a conditional third round bantam draft pick in 2019 to the Regina Pats in exchange for centre man Lane Zablocki, 18, defenseman Dawson Barteaux, 16, and a trio of bantam draft picks.
“As of yesterday when I left the office last night I was perfectly content in staying with the group we had and I got a call from Regina,” said Red Deer Rebels Owner, GM and Head Coach Brent Sutter, earlier this week.
After talking to Pats’ Head Coach and GM John Paddock for awhile, it became clear that a deal might be there that worked for both teams.
“It’s like all trades. You want trades that work out for everybody involved,” Sutter said, adding this was a particularly difficult trade to make for him personally.
“You have two players like Josh and Jeff — ‘98-born players that you drafted in the first and second round and they grew with us,” Sutter said.
In the end, though, the trade turned out make too much sense for the Rebels, who pick up a big centre with scoring potential in Zablocki, who had 9G, 16A, and 25PTS with the Pats this season, and a top prospect in Barteaux, who was the Pats’ first round pick in the 2015 bantam draft.
They also get to replenish their stockpile of draft picks with a first round pick in 2017, a first rounder in ‘18 or ‘19 and a conditional third round pick in 2020.
It didn’t take Zablocki long to make an impact with his new team. The Wetaskiwin product arrived at the Centrium from Regina just 10 minutes before warm up ahead of last Tuesday night’s tilt against the Prince George Cougars.
He then proceeded to score his first goal in a Rebels uniform just a period and a half into his debut and help his new squad to a 4-1 victory over the number six ranked team in Canada.
“I didn’t have much time to think about anything just threw the stuff on and went out there. Maybe not thinking about it helped,” laughed Zablocki after the game.
“‘Za-bo’ was outstanding tonight and Barteau is a young defenseman, a 16-year-old that our scouts are very, very high on,” Sutter said.
Barteaux is similar to current Rebels’ defenseman Jacob Herauf, who was drafted in the same year as Barteaux, Sutter said.
“Now we’ve got two 16-year-old ‘D’ that are going to be a huge future for this franchise and very good defensemen.”
In exchange for Zablocki and Barteaux, the Pats get to bolster their already-dominant lineup with Mahura — a smooth-skating offensive defenseman who can play top two or top four minutes on pretty much any WHL team — and DeWit, a gritty, hard checking centre who has shown he can be an offensive threat as well.
Sutter said it wasn’t easy for him personally to part with one of his blue chip players in Mahura and a local-born guy in DeWit, but the fact that those two players will get to go to a team which has a seriously good chance of not only attending the Memorial Cup tournament this season, but winning it as well, helped in his decision.
“They’re going to play in a really good organization that’s got a really good team and a very good coaching staff.”
The new-look Rebels are back in action this Saturday when they travel to Prince Albert to take on the Raiders at the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drop on that game is at 8 p.m.