More size, grit and depth is joining the Moose Jaw Warriors’ forward group ahead of the final two preseason games.

The Warriors acquired 18-year-old left winger Tristyn DeRoose from the Vancouver Giants in exchange for a sixth round pick in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.

“He’s a young guy that has worked real hard over the past couple of years to make himself a WHL player. Two years in Yorkton, he was seen there as a real hard competitive kid that scored almost 20 goals as a 16-year-old (at the Midget AAA level),” said General Manager Alan Millar.

DeRoose made his WHL debut last year with the Giants after being listed by the team. He scored one goal and six points in 55 games, while also racking up 91 penalty minutes, including 15 fighting majors, which was the second-most in the league last season.

The Warriors are expecting the Ceylon, Sask. product to bring a strong work ethic and physical edge to the team’s lineup this season.

“What I’ve seen thus far, particularly of our division, is there’s going to be some hard games and the make-up of the teams is gritty, hard and good size and I think it’s going to be real competitive,” said Millar. “We felt looking at the make-up of our team that there was an opportunity here for him and he was a good fit.”

Assistant G.M. Jason Ripplinger, who joined Moose Jaw in July after 17 seasons with the Giants, provided some extra insight into who DeRoose is as a player, according to Millar.

“We had an opportunity for him in terms of adding some depth, some grit and hardness into our lineup, and this is a guy that Jason Ripplinger knows very well and talked highly about in terms of his compete, his work ethic and character and we’ll give him a shot,” said Millar.

With the addition of DeRoose, the Warriors’ battle for spots in the bottom-nine of the lineup becomes a bit more crowded.

Millar said the final four forward spots are still up for grabs over the next week.

“There’s still some decisions to make, adding DeRoose into the mix leaves us with 18 forwards here, so it’s good depth, it’s good competition and we’ve probably seven or eight more practices and two more games to figure out how we’re going to look for opening weekend,” said Millar.

Some of the decisions will be delayed due to players away at NHL camps, but Millar said they still haven’t set anything in stone with two more preseason games against the Brandon Wheat Kings on tap this weekend.

“We’ve got some young guys that we need to make the right development decision on, if it’s right for them to be in the WHL at 16, particularly Austin Herron and Brayden Tracey. We’ve got some guys up front like (Tate) Popple and (Tyler) Smithies have played well; (Matt) Benson, (Chase) Hartje, (Brenden) Kwiatkowski are all guys that we think are very close to playing,” said Millar.

“The preseason has been real positive in terms of the young guys and it will be interesting to see where things shake out on that sixth, seventh, eighth defenceman and the 10th through 14th forwards.”

The Warriors currently have 18 forwards, 10 defencemen and two goalies in camp.

They close out the preseason with a home-and-home against the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday and Saturday.

Saturday’s game at Mosaic Place marks the return of Warriors’ hockey to Country 100 with James Gallo, Derek Kletzel and Marc Smith’s first broadcast of the season. The Pre-Game Show hits the air at 6:55 p.m.

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