With all the NHL draft talk surrounding Red Deer Rebels defenseman Dawson Barteaux and Alexander Alexeyev, there is another person on their blue line who has the skill to be selected next June as well. That player is 6-foot, 176 pound Jacob Herauf.
Herauf may not put up the points by charging up into the play that Alexeyev does, but his shutdown style will still get noticed by NHL scouts.
Herauf, who has yet to score in the regular season, relished some other goals he scored before the season began. One came in a preseason affair with the Tri-City Americans.
“I scored one in the black-and-white game, but it was nice to score one against another team. It was a relief I guess. He’s a 20-year-old goalie and a good one too. It was nice, but I have to thank my teammates, it was a nice pass.”
Herauf has three assists through the Rebels first seven games this year, nearly matching his career total coming in, of five. Numbers are not something he will concern himself with though.
“I’m just trying to go in and have a good year. Play simple. Every day is a new day and I just need to improve. I don’t want to put pressure on myself though and I don’t play as well with that added pressure I put on myself. I just want to have fun out there. I’m still a kid and I get to do what I enjoy.”
Last year, Herauf had a little setback that kept him from having the 16-year-old year he wanted. “I was injured for a month and a half. I didn’t get into as many games as I wanted to, but that is just the up and downs of it. As a 16-year-old I learned a lot and I feel like this year I’ve come back stronger and want to build off of that.”
Herauf prepared himself over the summer by hitting the gym and slimming down.
“I lost quite a bit of weight. I just wanted to be faster and quicker out there and be able to play more minutes. I worked on my shot and my strength but mostly my foot speed. Whether it be going into the corner or whatever.”
Looking back on the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, where Herauf was select 18th overall by the Rebels, he was excited to go in the first round.
“I knew Red Deer was in the picture, but I didn’t know when it would be. I wasn’t too focused on it. I was just happy to go whenever. Obviously, going first round is a big accomplishment but I didn’t try to focus too much on it. I celebrated with my parents but let it go after that. I had work to do.”
Herauf was well aware going in, of the current NHL d-men who were developed by Brent Sutter’s franchise.
“They develop great players. I was just really glad to be picked here. Looking back on their history and all the players who have come through here, they produce. Like Matt Dumba, Alex Petrovic and your (Haydn) Fleury and (Kayle) Doetezels. It’s pretty cool seeing that and hopefully on day I can be part of that list.”
He also got to play some with Fleury, who now plays in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I was with him at the beginning of the season and preseason and he was great to me. Same with Doetzel and (Josh) Mahura. Those guys are just leaders and role models. Hopefully one day, in this organization, I can be someone like that.”
Another learning experience for Herauf last year was the four playoff games he got into in the Rebels first round series loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
“You go to seven games like that, the pace and intensity ramps up. Getting into some of those games was awesome for me. I got some confidence from experiencing what it was like.
We were the underdogs going in and knew that. We were up 3-1 and we thought we had them but they were a good team. We made some mistakes. But I’m not going to dwell on that and hopefully we can have a better run this year.”
Herauf’s style of play and his attention to the small details on the ice, should get him continued appreciation from NHL scouts the more they come to watch his teammates Alexeyev and Barteaux. We could very well end up seeing three Red Deer d-men’s names be announced next June in Dallas.