This past week, the Brandon Wheat Kings and defenceman Yaroslav Busygin put pen to paper on a standard player agreement, beginning for the 2020-21 Western Hockey League season. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound blueliner will join the Wheat Kings as the team’s second import for the coming season, alongside 2019 import draft selection Marcus Kallionkieli.
Selected 39th overall in the first round of the 2020 CHL Import Draft back on June 30, Busygin is a 17-year-old left-side defender, who spent the past year in Russia’s MHL, suiting up in 25 games for Vityazi Chekhov. Known for his physicality and body contact, the 6-foot-2, 170-pound blueliner scored four goals and added one assist, while collecting 26 penalty minutes on the season.
Interestingly, Busygin was one of 11 defencemen on the roster, and the only 2003-born player on the team. Chekhov narrowly missed the playoffs in 2019-20, finishing six points out of contention. On top of his role within the MHL, the now Wheatie also served as team captain on both of Vityaz Podolsk’s U-17 and U-18 teams in 2019-20. In 32 combined games between the two teams, Busygin had eight goals, 32 points and 56 penalty minutes.
Brandon had the opportunity to select a second player in the import draft, but with Kallionkieli already having one import spot locked down, the team opted out of its second pick (99th overall) on June 30. Wheat Kings rival Winnipeg ICE selected Finnish forward Henri Nikkanen 42nd overall, and Slovakian goaltender Eugen Rabcan at 102.
With recent Import Draft selections providing good fortune to both the Wheat Kings and ICE – see Jiri Patera from 2018 and Michal Teply from 2019 – it will only be a matter of months until Manitoba’s two Western League teams know if their respective selections from this year’s draft will pay off. The WHL has recently announced a proposed December 4, 2020 start date to the upcoming season, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.