“Giddy” might be the best word to describe how the Red Deer Rebels feel about having Kristian Reichel on their roster.
The 19-year-old Czech forward has come to Red Deer and had an immediate impact on and off the ice.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a European player, as a person, come in like him,” remarked Shaun Sutter, Rebels Assistant GM. “A week into camp we were having Kristian talk to young players about staying and playing here. He’s basically a Canadian, he’s a phenomenal kid. He could easy wear a letter or be captain for our team.”
GM and Head Coach Brent Sutter also has high praise for Reichel, saying he’s been nothing short of outstanding since arriving in Red Deer.
“He’s a different type of player than what Michael Spacek was here for two years,” he noted. “He’s got a really good skill set and stuff, but he’s just a different personality. He’s more North Americanized, speaks very good English. Obviously with his dad playing in the National Hockey League for a long time and his mom being from here, he understands the lifestyle here. We’ve been extremely happy with him.”
Brent says the Rebels were surprised to learn that Reichel was an option for them heading into this year’s CHL Import Draft.
“We get a call out of the blue, about a week before the draft, from his agent saying he wants to come over and they’d like him to play close to home, which is Calgary where his dad played,” he recalled.
“At the time we never even knew he wanted to come over. When you get into the Import Draft things can change very quickly and we were very fortunate. We were able to get an older player, a 19-year-old who played at the World Juniors last year, and he’s come in here and been outstanding.”
Both Sutters say one thing that sets Reichel apart from other European forwards is his willingness to play at both ends of the rink.
“There’s going to be nights where maybe he’s not on the score sheet but he’s shut down the other team’s top player, just being a really good 200-foot player,” Shaun explained. “With him playing pro hockey for the last year and a half, he knows how to do everything. It’s very nice for the coaches to have.”
Reichel is certain to play for the Czech Republic again at this year’s World juniors.
Being that Winnipeg did not sign Reichel while he was at their camp, he is now eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft where all 31 teams will have a shot at securing his services.
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