Specifically, they didn’t have any.
Because of the trades that built the 2017-18 team into the Scotty Munro Trophy-winning squad they’d become, the Warriors didn’t have a selection in this year’s draft until the fourth round. At least, that was the situation the day before things were set to kick off.
Turns out, Warriors general manager Alan Millar had a plan, and that involved a blockbuster deal that sent Jett Woo to the Calgary Hitmen for a pair of players and, yes, a first round pick in this year’s draft.
“We certainly had a gap going in, and that goes back to adding Brayden Burke and Kale Clague a couple years back,” Millar said. “But at the same time, since we made those trades we had planned strategies to add picks and young players along the way. Some things worked out and some things didn’t and we just felt that with Jett being a signed NHL player who’s only going to play one more year in our league, in the best interest of our club we needed to pursue that at this Draft.”
The Tribe used that 11th overall selection on flashy defenceman Denton Mateychuk, who suited up for the Eastman Selects in the Manitoba Bantam AAA Hockey League last season and racked up 23 goals and 61 points in only 36 games.
“He’s a dynamic young player who had outstanding numbers in Bantam with Eastend as a defenceman. He’s a modern-type defenceman in terms of his dynamic, he’s offensive, he’s a great puck mover and I know how excited our guys were when he fell to 11. Obviously making the big deal and then adding Mateychuk at 11, it was a great start to our day.”
Mateychuk isn’t the biggest player, standing in at 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds. But the native of Dominion City, Man. has a skill set Millar compared to Lethbridge’s dynamic rearguard Calen Addison and could evolve into a player similar to former Warriors standout Scott Schoneck.
“He’s kind of that smaller puck-moving guy who’s mobile and has offensive ability and can quarterback your power play,” Millar said. “So he’s in that mould and really fits with where we’re at in terms of what we’re building and what we have on our back end.”
The Warriors selected nine players through the remainder of the draft.
In the fourth round, 82nd overall, the Warriors selected Jagger Firkus from the Lloydminster Bantam AAA Bobcats. The 5-foot-5, 125-pound forward had 30 goals and 65 points in 30 games along with four goals and 15 points in four playoff games.
In the fifth round, 104th overall, the Warriors selected Carson Brisson from the Leduc Bantam AAA Oil Kings. The 5-foot-10, 130-pound defenceman had 10 goals and 37 points in 32 games to go along with a goal and five points in two playoff games.
Three picks later, the Warriors added goaltender Kyle Kelsey from Burnaby Winter Club Bantam Prep in the CSSHL. Kelsey had a 2.67 goals against average and .918 save percentage while posting a 12-3 record in the regular season.
In the sixth round, 117th overall, the Warriors selected Jaden Waddell from Rink Hockey Academy Bantam Prep in the CSSHL. The 6-foot-0, 185-pound defenceman picked up three goals and 12 points in 29 games.
In the eighth round, 170th overall, the Warriors selected Carter McLeod from Edge School Bantam Prep in the CSSHL. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound right wing scored 12 goals and 18 points in 30 games and added a pair of goals in three playoff games.
In the ninth round, 178th overall, the Warriors selected Luke Robson from the Southwest Cougars Bantam AAA. The 5-foot-5, 133-pound forward scored 17 goals and 34 points in 32 games to go along with two goals and seven points in five playoff games.
In the ninth round, 192nd overall, the Warriors selected Dakota McIntosh from the Winnipeg Warriors Bantam AAA. The 5-foot-9, 162-pound centre scored 32 goals and 62 points in 34 games and added three goals and five points in the playoffs.
In the 10th round, 214th overall, the Warriors selected Darien Schaan from Rink Hockey Academy Bantam Prep. The 5-foot-9, 169-pound right defenceman scored twice and added 10 points in 29 games.
With their final pick in the 11th round, 236th overall, the Warriors selected Thomas Tien from St. George’s School Bantam Prep of the CSSHL. The 5-foot-6, 160-pound centre scored 24 goals and 64 points in 30 games to go along with four goals and six points in three playoff contests.
“Time will tell, well there are 22 teams walking out of the building who feel they’ve had a great draft and a year or two down the road we’ll know,” Millar said. “But with (assistant general manager) Jason Ripplinger and our group, I know we were well prepared, guys worked hard all year to put their draft list together, they trusted it today and stuck to what we wanted in terms of our players for our hockey club and added 10 good prospects to our list.”