In each year of their existence, the Red Deer Rebels have had at least one player selected at the NHL Draft.
It’s pretty much a lock that the streak will continue this weekend with Lane Zablocki.
The Wetaskiwin native is ranked is ranked 52nd among North American Skaters by NHL Central Scouting for the draft in Chicago.
Zablocki says he’s trying to take everything in stride heading into what could be a big weekend for him.
“Right now it’s out of my control, I just have to wait and see what happens. I’m not too sure what to expect, it’s going to be a crazy couple of days and hopefully I’m lucky enough to get selected,” he said during a recent phone chat from Regina.
Zablocki attended the 2017 NHL Combine last month where he interviewed with 10 teams.
“You go in there and meet with six to 10 guys in every room you go in, the GM and Assistant GM and all the guys who are high up, so you need to make a good impression on them,” he noted. “It’s your only impression on them before the draft. It’s been a great last couple of weeks and it’s been keeping me pretty busy.”
Sometimes, interview questions aren’t what you might expect. For Zablocki, one question that came his way stood out from the rest.
“One team asked me ‘If I had to keep my mom or my dad, who would I keep?’ I didn’t know what to say to that one because I don’t think there’s a right answer to it” he joked, choosing to keep his response to that question to himself.
When it comes to his physical testing at the combine, Zablocki is very happy with his results.
“I’ve been training pretty hard this off-season. I think I’ve taken maybe five days off. I’ve been training twice a day, six days a week and I think it’s been paying off.”
Zablocki says coming to the Rebels in the January 10 blockbuster deal with the Regina Pats has had a tremendously positive impact.
“It really changed my season. I didn’t think I was having the best season, as good of a season in Regina as I would’ve liked,” he remarked. “The trade to Red Deer gave me a fresh start on everything. It’s a first-class organization, the coaches are tremendous and have spent lots of time with me and I’ve learned a lot from them. My teammates who’ve helped and supported me all the way through it [the trade], the opportunity I got, everything. It’s been unbelievable.”
Getting more ice time with the Rebels, in all types of situations, has allowed Zablocki to showcase his entire skill set for NHL scouts.
“Being out there down a goal with a minute left, power play, even penalty killing which I wasn’t doing in Regina, really helped me develop and mature as a player. I’m really grateful for being presented with those opportunities.”
Zablocki, who collected 29 points in 31 regular season games and eight points in six playoff games with the Rebels, says he’ll be watching the draft from his home in Regina with his parents, who are just as excited as he is to see how things unfold.
“They’re trying not to show it, but they definitely are,” he laughed. “They’re my biggest supporters and have done a lot for me. I can’t thank them enough.”
His favourite NHL team while growing up was the Edmonton Oilers, but Zablocki says overall he has no preference where he ends up.
Zablocki’s Rebels teammate Austin Pratt also has a chance at being selected during this weekend’s NHL Draft, though his odds are a bit longer. The Minnesota native is ranked 103rd among North American Skaters.
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