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06-29-2008, 04:39 AM
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Kivistö and Red Deer Rebels


I copied the part about Kivistö as a whole, because I have a feeling that the link above might not link to this year's draft once the next import draft comes along.


When it comes to drafting, there are a couple of strategies: draft for need or take the best player available.

The Red Deer Rebels went into the Canadian Hockey League’s import draft on Thursday wanting to shore up their offence, but by the time they picked sixth overall it became a no-brainer to take the best player available — defenceman Tommi Kivisto out of Vantaa, Finland.

“We were looking at possibly taking a player in the forward position, but the players I had in mind were players that . . . made the decision at the last second not to come, and (Kivisto) was too good a player to pass up on,” said Sutter.

“We didn’t feel it was right to give up on an A-plus player and go down and select a B-plus player just because it’s not a position we wanted to take.”

Sutter is not looking at Kivisto as a consolation prize at all. In reality, he could become the cornerstone of their defensive core — joining Alex Petrovic and Justin Weller — which is by far the strength of the team. This strength should spread into all areas of their game.

“He’s an elite level defenceman — from the sources I talked to at the NHL level, they think he’s up there as a world-class player,” said Sutter. “Our defence is going to be very good for years to come. We’re excited about that.

“We want to create more offence, but at the same time you have to be good in your own zone. To have defencemen that can skate, that can move the puck and jump up in the play, in a lot of ways is more effective than having forwards that are offensive minded because those players are good in their own zone too.”

Sutter envisions Kivisto as a power-play quarterback, sliding into the slot vacated by hulking Czech defenceman Juraj Valech. But Kivisto should provide a better all-round game than the departed Valech.

“He’s a kid that really likes to create offence. He’s got a great shot but he’s also very dependable defensively to. He reads situations well and jumps up into the play,” said Sutter, adding Kivisto was close to a point per game player with Jokerit’s junior team.

Kivisto is not NHL draft eligible until 2009, so depending on how well he makes the jump to the North American game, he could be in Red Deer for more than one season.

“You never know with the NHL, it depends on how he does next year,” said Sutter. “The NHL is taking younger kids all the time, but we’d like to think we have him for two years, maybe three.”


Some random thoughts:
- Brian Sutter has high expectations of Kivistö.
- Seems that they expect Kivistö to stay in NA and most likely in WHL for more than one year, if he adapts. I wonder what are Kivistö's plans?
- Kivistö wasn't their primary target, so I wonder where Kivistö would have ended up if the Rebels would have gotten the player that they really wanted and with how many different teams had Kivistö made plans/arrangements with?

Last edited by Tormentor: 06-29-2008 at 04:51 AM.
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