Rebels’ Zablocki selected in third round of NHL draft

Rebels’ Zablocki selected in third round of NHL draft

Winger looking to improve strength for next level

The Red Deer Rebels continued the tradition of having a player being selected at NHL Draft when 6’0 185 lbs. right-wing Lane Zablocki was selected in the third round and 79th overall by the Detroit Red Wings.

“It is unbelievable to go to an organization with the history they have – being an original six team,” Zablocki said. “Just looking at them – they not only have good NHL players but they develop good, successful long-term NHL players. That is huge.”

Zablocki, who finished with 28 goals and 26 assists last season split between the Regina Pats and the Rebels, decided to take in the draft experience at his home in Wetaskiwin with his family.

“I was sitting on the couch with my parents. I decided to stay home and not go to the draft,” he said. “There was an interview going on and I heard something that sounded like my name. I said it and my parents didn’t believe me at first but then it popped up on the screen. There was a lot of excitement.”

Zablocki was soon contacted by former Edmonton Oiler Shaun Horcoff, who currently works in management for the Red Wings.

“He welcomed me and went over a few things. He told me what to expect at development camp and told me their long-term plans,” he said.

Zablocki will likely spend another year in the WHL but believes his size and skill will be an asset to the Red Wings, who just missed the NHL playoffs for the first time since 1990.

“It is early but hopefully I can take my competitiveness, ‘hard to play against game’ and physical size to try and benefit them,” he said.

Zablocki, who started the 2016-17 season playing 33 games for the Pats, exploded in his final 31 games with the Rebels – scoring 19 goals and 10 assists.

“It was a fresh start and I had great coaches, teammates and billets. Everything turned out good and I was very fortunate for that,” he said. “I got lots of opportunities and was put in key situations which really helped me develop and mature as a player.”

He noted an asset of his game is being able to plug into multiple positions and lineups and still contribute.

“I have played first line to fourth line and I like it. I am pretty good at adapting to different situations and different people. I think that is a benefit of my game,” he said.

Zablocki has focused his off-season on building his strength as well as tweaking his overall game.

“I need to work on my overall strength, which I have really done since the season ended,” he said. “I have lost 14 lbs. and I have lost about six per cent body fat. That is the biggest thing for me – to get bigger and stronger. There are also the little things like playing away from the puck and winning board battles.”

He feels that by improving these parts of his game, he can help the Rebels build off a disappointing first round play-off loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

“We have to learn from that. Obviously it is very tough to learn that way, but learning that way as a young team – which we were last year – can really help to motivate guys throughout the summer and next year,” he said.

“We want to get past that because play-offs are the best time of the year and we got to experience that last year.

“There is going to be a lot of motivation and we are going to have to work harder and we will have more experience under our belts,” he said.

He added he will be patient when it comes to where he fits in professionally with the Red Wings.

“It is tough to say. I have to see how camp goes, and hopefully main camp and then evaluate after. Right now I am not sure where I will fit into that organization,” he said.