Mikhail Sergachev will be on the opening night roster for the Tampa Bay Lightning after a strong training camp and preseason with the team.
Sergachev, who was traded by the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Jonathan Drouin, said last month he had no interest in returning to the OHL Windsor Spitfires this season.
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, however, is making no promises to keep the 19-year-old defenceman longer than nine games and burn a year off his entry-level contract.
"It could be nine games, 10 games, 40 games," Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times.
Sergachev appeared in four regular-season games with the Canadiens last season before being sent back to junior. He scored 10 goals and posted 33 assists in 50 games with the Spitfires and added one goal and three points in seven postseason contests as the Spitfires won the Memorial Cup.
"It's different this year," Sergachev said. "It's different people, a completely different organization. I wouldn't say it was easy to make the team, but they made it easy for me.
"My teammates and coaches and AHL coaches and staff, they helped me a lot."
It's unknown whether Sergachev will dress in the Lightning's opener on Friday against the Florida Panthers. The Times points out he paired with lineup regular Anton Stralman in the preseason, which could bode well for his chances.
Sergachev and Stralman formed the second pairing in Monday's practice, behind Victor Hedman and Jake Dotchin and ahead of Braydon Coburn and Dan Girardi, and the fourth pairing of Slater Koekkoek and Andrej Sustr.
As part of the conditions of the Drouin trade, if Sergachev plays less than 40 games combined in the regular season and playoffs this year, the Lightning will acquire the Canadiens' second-round pick in June's draft.
Including Sergachev, Tampa Bay's roster sits at exactly 23 players with $2.3 million in cap space entering the season, according to CapFriendly.