Starting this May, Red Deer will be the new home of the WHL Awards and Bantam Draft.
League Commissioner Ron Robison made the announcement Wednesday at the Enmax Centrium, home of the Red Deer Rebels. The partnership is for three years.
The Awards will go May 2 with the Bantam Draft happening the next day.
Robison said this will be an exciting couple of days for fans, particularly with the awards night.
"It's an opportunity to meet current stars of the Western Hockey League, but also future stars of the National Hockey League. This will also be an opportunity to participate in a special hotstove panel," he explained. "We've held this traditionally in Calgary, but to move it to a community that's embraced the Western Hockey League and major junior hockey in such a fabulous way is a credit to the fans of the Red Deer Rebels."
Rob Litwinski, CEO with Hockey Alberta, also noted the addition of these two events to Red Deer could usher the way for our city to host the Alberta Cup. The Alberta Cup features eight teams of the province's top bantam players.
"It's a pretty neat synergy for us. We're proud of the number of players that end up being in the WHL from Alberta," he said. "For us, it's kind of top of mind the fact we could have our Alberta Cup ptoentially and then right after, a few days later, the draft. We look forward to kind of piecing that together with the Western Hockey League."
With the 2018 Alberta Cup set to be played in Spruce Grove, Litwinski added they are aiming to obtain the tournament for Red Deer starting in 2019.
Players taken in the Bantam Draft who've gone on to become NHLers include Nolan Patrick (Brandon Wheat Kings / Philadelphia Flyers), Mathew Barzal (Seattle Thunderbirds / New York Islanders), Brayden Point (Moose Jaw Warriors / Tampa Bay Lightning), Sam Reinhart (Kootenay ICE / Buffalo Sabres), Seth Jones (Portland Winterhawks / Columbus Blue Jackets), Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw Warriors / Toronto Maple Leafs), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer Rebels / Edmonton Oilers), Brayden Schenn (Brandon Wheat Kings / St. Louis Blues), Carey Price (Tri-City Americans / Montreal Canadiens), Brent Seabrook (Lethbridge Hurricanes / Chicago Blackhawks), Jay Bouwmeester (Medicine Hat Tigers / St. Louis Blues), Scott Hartnell (Prince Albert Raiders / Nashville Predators), and Patrick Marleau (Seattle Thunderbirds / Toronto Maple Leafs).
Ticket information for the awards and draft is expected to be available soon. Both events are scheduled to be held at the Sheraton Hotel.
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