The case rests, for the defence, your honour.
So Paul Thompson has concluded his defensive signings with blue liner Christoffer Bjorklund.
Bjorklund will be Thompson’s final EU signing - each team must have at least three. Thompson was so impressed with Fredrick Vestberg last year that he wanted a defensive version of him. Smart and calm - Bjorklund ticks all boxes.
So just two of last year’s championship defence remain. The offensive genius that is Ben O’Connor and the league’s number one heavyweight Zack Fitzgerald.
Out go Sarich, Eddy (retired), Russ Moyer and Jace Coyle to be replaced by Bjorklund, Davey Phillips, Mike Ratchuk and Anders Franzon.
The one thing that sticks out to me is Power-Play. Lets face it; the Steelers won last year with a PP that was rarely on fire. Thompson recognised that and tried to bring in round pegs for round holes and square pegs for square holes.
O’Connor will run one of the PP units and the signing of Ratchuk indicates that Thompson has that role pencilled in for him to run the other unit.
Fitzgerald and Phillips add size and strength. We all know that Fitzy doesn’t lose out in the physical stakes - neither does Phillips. He is strong and competes. Unlike last year in Manchester, Phillips also has the supporting cast that he had in Belfast.
Franzon will be that big steady Eddy, previously used to shut opponents’ top lines down, and this is a role I see him doing for us this year. The one constant on Thompson’s scoring reports on Franzon were “great first-pass” and Paul’s desire for his defensive core to move the puck quickly north was a reason Franzon was signed. Bjorklund is the all-round guy; the guy who you don’t get past, doesn’t get out of position. A skating Des Walker.
It looks good, doesn’t it? Thompson hasn’t just tried to upgrade but has tried to change the team a little. Maybe the 16/17 model is a little more skilled, and offensive. Particularly on the power-play.
So now we just wait for the final piece of the jigsaw. Just one more player remains to be signed; a centre.
Thompson has strict timescales to sign the last player so he is registered in time for the CHL and that means work permit and visas sorted as well. He won’t panic.
He could sign a guy tonight. He will wait as long as he can for the right player. He can’t out-wait Nottingham Belfast and Cardiff, who can all drag the signing process out another few weeks as they don’t have CHL League duties, but he knows the importance of this last position.