Sheffield Steelers fans invest in new look team

Sheffield Steelers will welcome another Swede
Sheffield Steelers will welcome another Swede

They may have won the Elite League championship two years in a row - but a complete transformation of the Sheffield Steelers’ team is now well and truly gathering momentum.

And supporters appear to like what is going on behind the scenes - around 1,800 season tickets have been snapped up already, a 15 per cent hike on the same time last year.

When the dust settles on the transfer activity, Steelers will look very different. Eleven new players will be on their books (if you include Cole Shudra and Liam Kirk) compared with 10 retained from 2015-16.

Defensively, Sheffield will go through major change with only two d-men skaters (Ben O’Connor and Zack Fitzgerald) retained and four new men coming in.

They are Davey Phillips, Mike Ratchuk, Anders Franzon and another as yet unnamed player the club appears to have identified. They will be defending a goal minded by Ervins Mutokovs, who should put an end to the goaltending issues the fans witnessed on occasions last term.

Up front, head coach Paul Thompson is concentrating on securing two new centremen, one defensive the other more offensively orientated.

It is a big ask to replace Fredrick Vestberg, who was probably the champions’ most consistent performer. The Swede has left the club for personal reasons and is now working in a bank.

Markuss Nilsson was quickly signed to fill his shoes, though, and it will be interesting to see if he achieves the same standard.

Sheffield have also signed Jesse Schultz, who is a proven scorer which means (Shudra and Kirk aside) they need just two centres to field four strong lines - an ideal assisted by a change in the League rules which allows for an extra import.

Meanwhile Cardiff Devils, who has a strong netminder in South Yorkshireman Ben Bowns, have signed Team GB netminder Thomas Murdy as back-up. He arrives from English Premier side Telford.

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