Sheffield Steelers head coach Paul Thompson has confirmed the signing of 28-year-old American defensemen Mike Ratchuk.
Ratchuk was a second-round NHL draft pick for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2006.
The experienced blue liner has played 156 AHL and a further 273 ECHL games in his North American career. This will be Ratcuk’s second visit to Europe having played the 2006-07 season in Austria with Olympia Ljubljana.
In 2013-14, with Wheeling Nailers, Ratchuk was the East Coast Hockey League’s top scoring defensemen with 15 goals and Thompson said: “Mike is highly skilled.
“He will give us great mobility on the back end. His strength is his skating, he is good on the puck and will support the rush.
“I think he will be as mobile as any d-man in the league, he is smooth and decisive and I believe his style of play is something we need.
“He will give us a new dimension.
“I like the fact that he has won before as well, he was part of the Florida side alongside Mathieu Roy that won the ECHL championship. I spoke with Mathieu, and he as very complimentary about his former team- mate.”
“More than ever this summer I’ve tried to look for specifics,” Thompson added.
“Looked at the kind of player that perhaps we didn’t have last year, and then go and find him.
“I think we all know that our power-play from time to time didn’t fire as we would have liked. Mike has played the power-play his whole career and it’s one area I am sure he will be able to assist us with.”
Speaking from his home in the United States, Ratchuk confirmed how playing alongside Roy once again was a big pull in him making his decision to join the Steelers.
“We won a championship together in Florida,” he said.
“I loved playing alongside him and we have become great friends. I always said I’d kill to be on his team again and I’m delighted to be now. I’d looked at coming over to the UK for the last two years.
“Knowing Mathieu meant I’d always looked up the Steelers website, watched the videos, seen the Arena. I’d become a fan, I guess, so when the opportunity came up it was one I couldn’t decline.
“I have a great passion for the game. I compete; I hate to lose more than I like to win, I guess. As a player I’m offensive. I make things happen, I like to create.
“I’d like to be one of those guys that excite the fans when I’m on the puck. I hope to play the power-play. I feel it’s one of my strengths. In the past I’ve quarterbacked the PP and had success. It would be great to do the same as a Steeler.”