REGINA -- The Moose Jaw Warriors have officially inked their third overall draft pick, Brayden Yager, to a standard player agreement, just two days after the WHL Bantam Draft.

General Manager Alan Millar announced the news over video interview, from his office in Moose Jaw.

“Brayden’s an elite young player who combines a great skill set with speed. He has a strong two way complete game,” said Millar.

“It’s huge to me and my family, it’s certainly something that we look forward to,” says Yager. The 15 year old forward added he’s looking forward to playing in front of friends and family, as he’s from Dundurn, just north of Moose Jaw.

Yager applied for exceptional player status with Hockey Canada, but was denied.

“It was disappointing I mean, but you know I kind of just take it as motivation to get better.”

Yager will only be permitted to play five games with the Warriors as a 15 year old. However, Millar will try and get him more games if possible. If players depart for World Juniors, or succumb to injuries, Yager may receive an exemption to play more games with Moose Jaw.

“We want Brayden to spend as much time with our team as he came. Certainly balancing his education and respecting his club team as things that we’ll consider along the way,” said Millar.

In the 2019-20 hockey season, Yager played up a level with the Saskatoon Midget AAA Contacts, and notched 42 points in 44 games for third on his team. He’ll return to the Contacts next season, but use it as an opportunity to prepare for the next step in his hockey career.

“This year’s going to be a big year, getting ready for the [2021-22 season] and working as hard as I can to get ready and get used to a faster game for the WHL.”

Miller is already prepping for a heated rivalry with the Regina Pats, whose first overall pick Connor Bedard was given exceptional player status.

“John Paddock and I have talked about it. I think we can have lots of fun with what I consider the two elite players in this age group.”

For Yager, it will be a reunion, playing against a former foe.

“I’ve played against [Bedard] in the Brick tournament back in 2015, and again the next year after that in spring hockey. We’ve played against each other a little bit now and I think it’ll be fun to play against him again.”

The Warriors also selected forward Ben Riche from Bethune, SK 33rd overall, and goalie Jackson Unger from Calgary, AB, 54th overall.

Miller was looking for a defensemen in the second round, given they’d taken a forward in the first round, but couldn’t pass up on Riche’s talent.

“When Riche was still on the board, we couldn’t pass on him. Our guys really like his speed and his compete and are excited about his future with us.”

Miller was shocked to see Unger, their top rated goalie, still available when their third selection came around.

“Our guys are very high on Unger, they compare him to some top young goaltenders that have gone high in the draft in the last couple of years and it was a strategic move made by Jason [Ripplinger] and a real smart one.”

Two years after finishing with the best regular season record in the WHL, the Warriors finished second last overall in the league. Yager and the other draft picks are the first steps in an upwards direction for the club.

“This year I think I’m expecting to take a real big step, certainly patience will still have to be there, we’re still a young group,” says Mark O’Leary, who took over the Warriors Head Coaching role this season.