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Passed over in the bantam draft, Saskatoon Blades rookie Matt Revel shines early

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Matt Revel (WHL.ca)

Matt Revel's outstanding start to his major junior career is about the only thing Saskatoon Blades fans have to cheer about thus far in their 2-5-0-0 start to the season.

Revel has been consistently creating scoring chances for the Blades, outperforming several older teammates. He sits tied for second on his squad in points with one goal and three helpers throughout seven games.

"I just try to keep my feet moving and stay in position in offensive chances," says Revel. "I just want to be able to help my team anyway I can."

Despite his early success, Revel was uncertain about joining the Blades after being listed by them last year. The 16-year-old had several American colleges contact him and he contemplated the NCAA route. Nonetheless, shortly after starting the season with the Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCHL, Revel decided to join GM-head coach Lorne Molleken's Blades.

"Four or five schools contacted me," says Revel. "I definitely looked at that as an option. But I decided the WHL was the right fit for me after Lorne talked to my family in early September and gave me some pretty good offers for if I came here."

"Matt was a guy we really wanted to join our team," Molleken says. "We talked to him a lot about the organization and the city to try to get him to come here. He decided to start the season in Chilliwack, but for whatever reason he decided to come here shortly after."

Saskatoon hosting the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup was a selling point that worked on Revel.

"Knowing they will be at the Memorial Cup was definitely appealing to me," says Revel. "Not very many players get to play in that tournament."

Blades fans have high expectations for Revel because of his outstanding rookie season of major midget hockey last year. He outscored the 2011 No. 1 bantam pick Jake Virtanen, who now plays for the Calgary Hitmen. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound centre notched 25 goals and 51 points in 40 games for the Fraser Valley Bruins, outscoring former teammate Virtanen by 12 points. Not bad for someone who was passed over by all 22 teams in the '11 bantam draft.

"Early in the season I struggled a bit, but I caught fire near the end," says Revel. "I'm really happy with how my season went last year. It was nice to put up that many points."

The Abbotsford, B.C., native wouldn't be the first player passed over in the bantam draft to blossom into a star. The Calgary Flames' Jarome Iginla, Toronto Maple Leafs' Joffrey Lupul, Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic, Vancouver Canucks' Dan Hamhuis are among the NHLers who were passed over in their respective bantam drafts.

"I have a lot of work to do," says Revel. "But it is good to know that the bantam draft doesn't mean a whole lot."

Molleken knows Revel could be a very special player for the Blades. But he is going to take it one day at a time, not setting unfair expectations on his shoulders.

"We think he can be a very good player for us down the road," says Molleken. "He needs to improve on his play away from the puck, but that will come. We're really happy with him and see a lot of potential in him. We're taking it one game at a time with him."

Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen

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