For a team that won the Play Offs, reached the final of the Challenge Cup and took third place in the Elite League, the arrival of EIGHT new players seems a lot.
There is a freshening up of all Sheffield Steelers squads every year. But eight seems a lot, as Paul Thompson, the coach, concedes.
If Guillaume Desbiens had stayed, it would have been seven. But, him apart, the team boss is comfortable with the changes he’s crafted, designed to leap-frog over Cardiff Devils and Belfast Giants, who ended above them in the table.
“I think it’s healthy you bring new blood in. It’s healthy that the fans see new players” said Thompson. “New players bring excitement, not just to the outside but into the room as well.”
A four week training camp, with eight pre-season matches, would aid the process of integration, he said.
Thompson finds it hard to pick out a player who will excite the fans more than the others.
But he said Tim Wallace with his pedigree of 101 NHL games plus 439 in the AHL and 120 in the Swedish League would be one to watch. “Wallace is physical, powerful, doesn’t take any prisoners, he is going to be an asset for us.”
Brady Ramsay was an “energy guy” who would catch the eye too. “He’ll bring us a slightly different dimension to Markus (Nilsson) he is a bit more rugged than him or Hagos. If I decide to put him with Jono (Phillips) Kirk, Shudra or Brown, who knows? It is going to be a quick, dynamic line.”
As for Matt Marquardt, he said there would be demands made of him which exceeded those last year at Coventry Blaze. “Here you can’t have three bad weeks because you won’t see four. That’s the way it is here.”
He also said that Mark Matheson, a Canadian who has played in Europe since 2013, would be a big plus in Continental Cup, a competition Steelers are under pressure to win after Nottingham Panthers’ triumph in January.