The Moose Jaw Warriors will use their first-round selection, 46th overall, in the 2019 CHL Import Draft coming up on Thursday.
The Warriors started the week with three import players on their roster, but the team decided to release 18-year-old Belorussian forward Yegor Buyalski after one season with the team.
"We protected [Vladislav] Yeryomenko and [Danill] Stepanov. We thank Yegor for his time with us, he's a good kid and we wanted to give him every opportunity to play in the CHL moving forward and to do that we made him eligible for the import draft," Warriors GM Alan Millar told DiscoverMooseJaw.com on Wednesday.
Buyalski was a second-round Import Draft pick in 2018, he posted six goals and 14 points in 66 games with the Warriors in 2018-19. He was a rookie on the team along with fellow Belorussian Danill Stepanov, who had eight goals and 19 points in 68 games.
Yeryomenko was acquired by the Warriors as part of the deal that sent Jett Woo to Calgary.
Teams in the Canadian Hockey League are only allowed to carry two import players, however, due to Yeryomenko being an overage player, the Warriors have the ability to draft a player and make their decision at training camp.
There's also the possibility that Yeryomenko signs with the Nashville Predators, who drafted him in the fifth round of the 2018 NHL Draft.
"We're in a situation where its a little bit unique, we expect to have Yeryomenko here -- all conversations with the player, agent and Nashville are they have another year to sign him and they want him to play another year in the league, now, any 20-year-old can go to camp and earn a contract, but we expect Yeryomenko to be here -- and we also like Stepanov," said Millar.
With some flexible heading into the Import Draft, Millar stated that the Warriors could look at a player that is more high-risk, high-reward.
"Somebody that may be under contract, somebody that is planning on playing in Europe for a year but may consider his options a year from now after the NHL Draft, so we can look at it as a unique pick where we can try to hit a home run, there will be some risk in the player ever playing here, but if we ever did get him, we may get ourselves an impact player," said Millar.
The CHL Import Draft will be held on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. Sask time. The Swift Current Broncos hold the first overall selection.