STORY: Rob Mahon of Discover Estevan
The roster picture for the Estevan Bruins in 2019-20 is growing clearer, and the signs of a busy off-season are beginning to show. The Bruins will be younger in 2019-20, but will have a staggering away of weapons and talent at their disposal thanks to some off-season pick-ups from the midget AAA ranks in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Cal Caragata, the Bruins first round pick, second overall, in the 2017 SJHL draft has signed on to play with the team next season. Joining Caragata is Winnipeg native Griffin Asham-Moroz, who impressed the Bruins with his spring camp and his play with the Winnipeg Thrashers in Manitoba’s midget AAA circuit.
“It’s kind of nice to know where you’re going in the spring time rather than the fall,” joked Caragata, who had bounced around a bit in previous years. “It was exciting to put the jersey on and sign the papers.”
Despite being a second-year player, Caragata still torched the midget AAA ranks in Saskatchewan. With the Regina Pats Canadians, he posted 18 goals and 41 points in just 35 games. He also drew into the Bruins lineup for a game against the Weyburn Red Wings in 2018-19.
“People will be excited about Cal,” said Bruins head coach and GM Chris Lewgood. “He’s a 2002 born player so he’s playing as an underager. We traded up a couple years back in the draft to get him. He’s a big guy, well over 200 pounds and probably 6’1 or 6’2. He can play center or right wing, and he’s got amazing offensive abilities. Not the fastest skater but he’s got a set of hands and a scoring touch like few players we’ve seen here over the years.”
Caragata, in his own words, is not shy about using that impressive size. “You could say I’m a power forward. I like to feed the puck and also put the puck in the net. I like to lay the body and work the corners. I think I can bring that to the team.”
At the other end of the size spectrum, but loaded with skill in his own right, is Asham-Moroz. The Winnipeg native suited up for the Winnipeg Thrashers last season after two years in the Winnipeg high school hockey ranks. In his first season at the AAA level, he posted 25 goals and 49 points in 47 games.
“I’m super, super excited,” Asham-Moroz said of signing in Estevan. “It’s just awesome to sign with a top-tier organization like that. I’m looking forward to the future and seeing what that brings.”
“He was one of our top recruits if not right at the top of the list,” Lewgood said. “A guy we think is going to be a huge player in the SJHL over the years. It takes time to acclimate, but even though he’s a smaller guy he skates excellently. He’s a real heady player. We think the upside on him is tremendous.”
Moroz was heavily recruited elsewhere as well, but in the end the Bruins won him over. “Estevan recruited me so hard and just looking at the organization and everything around it, how the team is built, it made the decision easy.”
The quality of Affinity Place, the Bruins home rink, didn’t hurt either. “It was amazing. One of the best Junior A facilities I’ve ever seen.”
Asham-Moroz and Caragata are the fourth and fifth signings the Bruins have officially announced since the off-season began.