The Everett Silvertips’ stacked defensive group just got stronger.
The Tips acquired overage defenseman Artyom Minulin from Swift Current on Wednesday in exchange for 17-year-old defenseman Alex Moar. Everett also received an eighth-round pick in the 2021 Western Hockey League bantam draft.
Minulin is expected to join the Silvertips once his visa is approved, Everett general manager Garry Davidson said.
“I think there’s a couple of things (we considered). We have room for a (20-year-old) and we have room for a (European player),” Davidson said.
“When I looked around, I thought this was the option that made the most sense. Two months or three months from now, someone might be able to second-guess me on that, which always happens anyway, but we’re getting a big strong defenseman who’s won the (WHL) championship and scored 13 goals last year, which I think is another plus.”
Minulin, 20, posted 43 points (13 goals, 30 assists) in 64 regular-season last season. He scored eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 20 playoff games for a Broncos team that beat the Silvertips in last spring’s WHL finals. The Tyumen, Russia native had three assists in three games during the Memorial Cup.
He joins an already strong defensive corps including Wyatte Wylie, Jake Christiansen, Sahvan Khaira, Gianni Fairbrother, Kyle Walker, Ian Walker and Ronan Seeley.
“He’s going to play lots of minutes, he’s going to be on the power play, he’s going to complement a real strength of our team,” Davidson said. “I really like our back end, from the youthfulness of Seeley to the experience of the two 20-year-olds (Minulin and Khaira) who won the Western Hockey League championship (with Swift Current).”
Everett entered the season with one of its three designated overage spots open and lost one of its two European players when forward Peter Melcher sustained a concussion in the preseason and returned to his home country of Slovakia. Minulin fills both of those spots.
Minulin has not played this season because of an upper-body injury, but he practiced this week and the Silvertips were told he could be available this weekend, Davidson said.
The biggest hurdle the Silvertips have to jump over, Davidson said, is obtaining a P-1 Visa for Minulin from the U.S. Consulate in Vancouver, British Columbia. That might not be resolved until next week, Davidson said.
“It’s a thing we’ve done in the past. It just doesn’t happen immediately,” Davidson said. “We have to get an appointment and then he has to go up to the appointment and there is 48 hours where they take his passport and he has to wait until he gets it back with his visa and the stamp in it.”
In order to land Minulin, the Silvertips had to part with Moar, a young defenseman the organization was high on but who struggled to consistently crack the lineup. He’ll have an easier time finding the ice with the Broncos, who are in rebuild mode after going all-in during their 2018 Memorial Cup run.
“They were adamant they wanted Alex Moar,” Davidson said. “He’s a Saskatchewan kid, they’re familiar with how he plays and they’re looking to build for the future. I think he’ll be a big part of that. From Alex’s prospective, he’ll get to play game in and game out and grow and develop, so there’s that aspect of it, too.”
Everett is still without depth at the center position, with just Riley Sutter and Reece Vitelli on its roster. Davidson said he will continue to add pieces if the right situation comes up.
“I think this was something out there that we could do immediately,and I felt it would benefit us for the rest of the season,” Davidson said, “but yeah, we’re looking to add to our group if we feel like we can add someone that can make us better. The focal point moving forward will be at forward.”