Sergei Sapego will be staying in North America for the next step in his hockey career.
Following two seasons with the Prince Albert Raiders, the 19-year-old blueliner from Vitebsk, Belarus will be moving up to the American Hockey League this fall after signing a contract with the Toronto Marlies on Thursday.
After starting his Western Hockey League career during the 2017-18 season with the Tri-City Americans, where he had two assists in three games, Sapego went on waivers and was claimed by the Raiders on Oct. 10, 2017.
He had 17 points in 41 games during his first season in Prince Albert and had three assists in seven games in the team’s opening round loss to the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Sapego increased his scoring output last year with had 43 points in 58 games and was third in scoring among all blueliners in the WHL playoffs with 13 points in 23 games.
He also had two goals in five games for Belarus during their silver medal showing at the Division I World Juniors, which were held in Germany in December.
Sapego was one of three players to sign contracts with the Marlies on Thursday as Newfoundland Growlers forward Marcus Power and Green Bay Gamblers netminder Maksim Zhukov also inked deals.
He could also find himself alongside a Raiders teammate in Toronto as goaltender Ian Scott will be battling for a spot on the Marlies roster at training camp this fall.
With Sapego’s signing, the Raiders now have four overagers on their blueline as Zack Hayes, Max Martin, Jeremy Masella and Brayden Pachal can all return.
Forward Brett Leason is also eligible to come back for one last season in junior hockey, but the Washington Capitals draft pick is expected to suit up with the AHL’s Hershey Bears next fall.
Scott and forward Parker Kelly can also return, but they will more than likely start their pro careers in the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators organizations respectively.
On the import side of things, Belarusian forward Aliaksei Protas is slated to come back for his second season with the Raiders after being selected by the Capitals in the third round of the NHL Draft in June.
The Raiders also drafted Russian forward Ivan Kechkin in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft last week, but he has yet to sign a contract with the defending league champions.