(Thanks go out to DUBNetwork’s Tyler Lowey who interviewed Dawson earlier this summer)
When you are a first round WHL bantam draft pick, there is a usual route that you take. You get into at least one game as a 15-year-old and if you play well enough, you stick with the team the following season, gaining the experience necessary to be a cornerstone for the franchise. That is how Dawson Barteaux, a defenseman from Foxwarren, Man. started with the Regina Pats, then things were swiftly changed.
After being taken 14th overall in 2015 and playing one game with the Pats in 2015-16, Barteaux was 18 games into his first full season in Regina, when he was dealt to the Red Deer Rebels. He was part of a multi-player deal that saw Anaheim Ducks draft pick Josh Mahura head from the Rebels to the Pats.
The then 16-year-old took the trade in stride and saw the positive aspects of expanding the number of WHL coaches he would get to learn from. That didn’t mean that he didn’t have to adjust to playing somewhere completely different though.
“It was surreal honestly. I had no idea it was going to happen. I was just sitting at home and got a call from my agency saying I was traded to Red Deer. I was just super excited to get things started. Brent Sutter is an amazing coach and I’m so lucky to have had both him and John (Paddock) coaching me in one year. They gave me lots of opportunity here and I’m super thankful for that. I’m excited to come back this year.”
The similarities between the Rebels and Pats for him, helped ease the transition for the Manitoban blue liner.
“Regina was an amazing organization and so is Red Deer. They are both super professional and high-class.”
Barteaux compiled two assists at each of Red Deer and Regina and played in 42 total games as a fresh-faced rookie. He knew that his lack of playing time in both places is part of the process, but looks to earn more minutes in the 2017-18 campaign.
“I think your mindset is a lot of it. I wanted to play a lot last year, but being 16 that’s not always the case. To come in at 17 now, you want to try and crack the top-four, play some big minutes and be a big player on that team. I’m excited to see what happens.”
Dawson had an eventful summer as he attended Hockey Canada’s U18 Selection Camp in Calgary. This is not the first time he has worn the Canadian maple leaf as he played for Canada Red at the U17 World Hockey Championships last year.
“I understood from last year, how hard the Canadian way is and how hard you have to work. To have that experience from last year was awesome to bring to this year’s camp.”
While he did not make the roster that would go on to represent Canada at the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, he still got a lot out of the camp.
“The speed. The play here is going to be so fast Hopefully I can carry on that speed to camp and come in there and be a big player at camp and be a big player on the team this year.”
One of the goals for Barteaux this year has to be extending the Rebels postseason run past the seven-game first round exit they experienced last year. He got into three games and was an overall minus-two. He knows that what he went through last year, will help him down the line.
“Just experience. You need that experience to come along when your older. You are going to go deeper and deeper in the playoffs and it was a great experience. We would have loved to have gone further but that’s just not the way it went down.”
Another one of his goals is hearing his name called out in Dallas, Texas at the 2018 NHL draft. While the 6-foot-1, 180-pound d-man is not being projected yet as a top pick, he is well aware of what he needs to work on in order to get that phone call from an NHL team letting him know he’s been taken off the board.
“Strength and my weight and getting bigger and bigger because I’m going to be playing with older guys. Also, my physicality. I think I’ve always had to work on that. I’m also going to keep working on my skating and my shooting; all of my skills. Just to keep getting better.”
That always improving mantra has served him well so far and so is not going to be something he changes up as he prepares for the biggest year of his hockey career so far.
“I just want to be my best. I want to be better and better every year. Hopefully by the end of the year, I can see my name go at the NHL draft. That’s my main goal in my whole life was to get drafted in the NHL and play their eventually. Hopefully I have a good year.”
Brent Sutter and the Rebels saw something in the right-handed defenseman and so he should get the opportunity to prove himself this year. If he can earn top-four minutes, we should see his stock move in the rankings as much as he did physically last year when he changed teams.