photo courtesy Dave Brunner Photography
Lost amid the WHL trade deadline deal that the now 2018 Memorial Cup host Regina Pats made for defenceman Josh Mahura was the fact that talented forward Lane Zablocki went the other way. Zablocki was moved from a team that led the WHL in winning percentage at the time to one mired in a race just to make the playoffs. He had 25 points in 33 games with Regina before coming over to Red Deer where he has put up 15 points in 20 games. Though the major change has not impacted his point production much, Zablocki pointed out how much it impacted his day-to-day life.
“It has been a big difference. Anytime you get traded it’s life-changing. Everyone you come into contact with is different. It’s a huge change and sometimes it’s for the best and I think this time it was. I think there’s a lot of opportunity here for me.
Everyone here is great and so easy to get along with. I came in that first day and they welcomed me very quickly. I’m very thankful for that. My linemates (Evan Polei and Adam Musil) have made it a lot easier for me. They are both unbelievable players.”
Zablocki moved right into playing on the Rebels’ top line with Polei and Musil and this line had been together pretty consistently up until their recent eight-game losing streak. The streak ended Tuesday night in Prince George and any sort of line consistency paid the price along the way.
“Things didn’t go the way we wanted. We didn’t show up at all. There was no effort from anyone and there are really no excuses for that. For the most part I’ve been playing with Polei and Musil. We’ve been a pretty solid line for the most part.”
Despite the team’s recent struggles, 12 goals in his 20 games with the Rebels does mean that he has made some major strides in consistency.
“That is one thing that I’ve tried to improve since first year of junior. Points mean you’re doing something right. I still need to work on being consistent in every area of my game, not just on offence.”
That is not to say that Zablocki doesn’t see areas in his offensive game that need work.
“The other thing I’m working on is my board work and net-front play with tips and stuff. That is a big part of my game, working hard in and around the net.”
Zablocki is also a wise enough guy to know that NHL teams are not just looking at your play on the ice anymore. During the interviews he’s had with scouts this year, it has become abundantly clear that they are just as interested in what you do and how you do it off the ice.
“They just want to get to know you and get a little background on you. Get to know you and your family and everyone around you in order to see what kind of person you are. NHL teams right now are really high on character and they take the guys they really want. I think the biggest thing in those meetings is getting to know what kind of guy you really are.”
This should not be too surprising considering the fact that he was traded from a contender and 2018 Memorial Cup host to a team that hosted last season and is depleted because of it. The fact that he continues to produce for the Rebels despite this big change may end up convincing NHL teams that his mental toughness makes him an even better pro prospect come June.