Tribe acquire Zalitach, 17, from Vancouver
The Moose Jaw Warriors weren’t in the market for a defenceman.
However, when Reid Zalitach became available they couldn’t pass him up.
Monday, the Warriors acquired the 17-year-old defenceman from the Vancouver Giants in exchange for a fourth round pick in 2015 and a third round pick in 2016.
“It wasn’t that we necessarily were necessarily out looking for a defenceman in particular, but sometimes opportunities presents themselves with young guys that are available that you feel you want to make an investment in,” said Warriors general Alan Millar. “We felt that Reid was that type of player. We’re high on him.”
The Giants thought enough of Zalitach to play him as a 15-year-old in a playoff game in 2012. He played 42 games last season, picked up seven assists, was a minus-13 and had 14 penalty minutes for the struggling Giants. This season he has no points, four penalty minutes and is a minus-five in nine games.
“Trading for Zalitach presented an opportunity to get a young guy we feel has a lot of potential. With the age of our team and the direction that we’re going, we felt he was a young defenceman worth investing in. We think he’s going to be a good fit for us now and especially in the future,” said Millar.
Zalitach is six-foot-one and is from Narol, Man., but played his bantam and midget hockey in Winnipeg. He was taken in the second round, 38th overall, by the Giants and was a part of Team West at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The trade gives the Warriors four 1996-born defencemen as Zalitach joins Alexey Sleptsov, Dallas Valentine and Royce Rossignol on the roster. They also have four signed 1997-born defencemen including Tyler Brown who has played in games this season.
“We anticipate that they 96 and 97 group will be strong. We like the size and the mobility that we have in those age groups,” said Millar. “We think Zalitach fits in with that, he’s 6-foot-2, he has very good feet. Like any young guy, he has to learn how to play the game on a consistent basis, but we feel he fits with what we want to do.
“I know our scouts thought highly of him going into the 2011 draft.”
The Warriors currently have nine defencemen on their roster. Millar said that won’t last, but didn’t have a timeline for a move.
“With tough decisions come more tough decisions,” said Millar. “We’ll be at nine defencemen and I think we’ll get down to eight at some point, but we’ll take that day-to-day right now.”
Zalitach is expected to arrive in Moose Jaw this afternoon, but may not be in the lineup Wednesday for the Warriors game in Regina.