The fact that Sheffield Steelers finished the season empty-handed - third in the League after being fifth for several weeks - hints at a full-scale clear -out.So who will go and who will stay?Here I take a stab at the answers - with no guidance from the club.I have split the imports into three camps.EXPECTED RETURNEES: Mark Matheson: Bet your house on him coming back. He's as essential as British players Ben O'Connor and Rob Dowd. Mathieu Roy is contracted for another season. 2017-18 wasn't his best campaign - and Steelers need a better top six forwards - would the 'King' be happy on a third line? John Armstrong: if terms can be agreed. Scott Aarssen, a fine debut year. Eric Neiley - did himself justice in a short first season.STRONG CONTENDERS: Zack Fitzgerald, fans' biggest favourite yet that accounts for nothing in a League now all about speed. But is Zack worth keeping for his strength, character, courage and versatility? I hope so. Levi Nelson: A game changer, but Steelers didn't immediately hand him a contract at the end of last season, so we might see the same again. Jonas Westerling: A busy, committed player, but will he be deemed productive enough? Andreas Valdix - a high earner, apparently - which likely means his spot will be reviewed. Miika Franssila - quick defenceman, but not picked for the semi final. GOING OR GONE: Ervins Mustukovs has made it clear that he is now a "free agent" and looking for a new team. Andreas Jamtin: Dropped from the Finals. A fine, edgy player, but not the fit in the dressing room he was expected to be. Joonas Ronnberg: Should be in the first category, but has family responsibilities in Finland. Colton Fretter: At 36, I am guessing he will retire after a stellar career. Matt Marquardt: Out of favour. We won't see him again in a Steelers' shirt. Tim Wallace: Ditto. Just didn't influence games like you'd have expected a 100-game NHL'er to do. This is just my speculative guess-work. But one thing is for certain: Sheffield Steelers must undergo radical surgery this Summer as they try once again to bridge the gap on Cardiff Devils.Coach Paul Thompson was holding "exit" meetings today with his squad, which has an average age of 29.38.In this video, he steers clear of discussing the Jamtin issue - read into his attitude what you will.
Thompson is not used to coaching teams that end up empty-handed...so watch this space, over the Summer!