The Moose Jaw Warriors added eight new players to their 50-man protected list Thursday.
Moose Jaw Warriors
They also released a pair of players from their roster.
Import right winger Alexander Chirva and dedefenceman Kirk Johnson have both been dropped from the Warriors list. Johnson played 110 games with the Warriors. In 2013-14, his second full season with the team, he played in 61 games and netted a goal and five assists, while picking up 73 penalty minutes.
"Kirk's a great young man. Sometimes on a day like today it looks like the decision you've made is a harsh one — and it is a tough decision — but at the end of the day we believe that we don't have an opportunity in the fall for Kirk to play for our team," said Warriors GM Alan Millar.
Johnson was heading into his 19-year-old season. The Warriors have a trio of 18-year-old veterans returning, plus 19-year-old Spenser Jensen. They could also have at least three 17-year-olds on the blue line and may also be in the market for a 20-year-old defenceman.
"He's been a good Warrior for a couple of years," said Millar. "As much as this is a tough decision, we're hopeful that there's an understanding that this was the best way for us to give him an opportunity to play in the league and we hope that happens for him. Hopefully we've given him the best opportunity to play in the WHL next year with one of the other 21 teams."
The Warriors explored a trade, but given that teams were clearing space off of their 50-man protected lists for the Bantam Draft, Millar knew it was going to be unlikely when the trade moratorium ended Thursday morning.
"You always look at what the interest level is to make a deal," said Millar. "At this time of the year, everybody likes their team, everybody likes their young guys, so making a trade at this point can be difficult."
Chirva was the Warriors second choice in the 2013 CHL Import Draft after defenceman Alexey Sleptsov. Chirva, an 18-year-old Russian, had two goals and four assists in 58 games as a rookie. By releasing him, the Warriors will be able to make use of their 12th overall selection in this year's Import Draft.
"Alex is a good kid. We like his size and we like the way he skates. You have to be careful in evaluating 17-year-old imports because sometimes there's a big jump at 18. We certainly believe and are hopeful that we'll see that with Alexey Sleptsov," said Millar. "With our team having the 12th overall pick we have to look at the betterment of our team and an upgrade in that area. Hopefully Alex gets another opportunity in the CHL."
Chirva will be eligible for this year's Import Draft.