Alan Millar has a short list of foreign players he would like to add to his roster.
Moose Jaw Warriors
The question is whether any of them will still be available when the Moose Jaw Warriors pick 12th during Wednesday's annual Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.
"You're never going to be 12 deep in this draft with all of the unknowns," said Millar, the Warriors general manager. "We have an idea of four or five guys that we expect are going to go in the top-10, but other than that you don't really know what other teams across the country are doing. You just have to make sure you have options depending on what happens before you pick."
The Warriors will have one selection in the draft. Russian defenceman Alexey Sleptsov will return for his second season with the Warriors, while fellow Russian Alexander Chirva won't be back after playing 58 games with the Warriors last season. Chirva, an 18-year-old forward, scored twice and had six points in his rookie campaign.
"We're considering some players where it's fairly well known that they're interested in coming," said Millar. "There's a combination of some guys that we think we have a read on and they're probably going to be there when we pick. Then you're comparing them to some of the guys who are good players who made it known that they want to play in the CHL next year. We're weighing all of that information right now."
It's a process that evolves throughout the off-season as some European players sign pro contracts and others are encouraged to change course after they are selected in the NHL draft.
"We're continuing to do our homework and following up after the NHL draft — figuring out which guys are under contract and which guys might be interested in coming over," said Millar. "More and more kids are under contract in Finland and Sweden, so it gets more difficult.
"It's an ongoing thing getting ready for Wednesday."
Millar was decidedly cagey when asked about what type of player they might be targeting. He wouldn't elaborate on age or position as he tried to not tip his hand to the teams selecting ahead of Moose Jaw.
Suffice it to say that after their second straight season out of the playoffs and given their draft position they're looking for someone who can step in and contribute right away.
The Import Draft has always been tricky to negotiate. Last year new rules were put in place that forbids teams from trading picks. They also aren't allowed to trade their drafted import players for at least a year after being drafted. Those rules were out in place to help cut down on some of the manipulation in the draft that had happened previously.
While some of the first names called are fairly known quantities, the players late in the draft can sometimes be a total mystery. The Saskatoon Blades hit the jackpot a year ago when they selected Nikita Scherbak with the 109th overall pick. A year later he was the 26th pick in the National Hockey League draft.