Sheffield Steelers: Competition hots up with quality signings.

Ice hockey: News. reports and more.
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You want quality? You’ve got it with the Sheffield Steelers and the Elite League this coming season, writes Dave Simms.

Something has happened this summer and the quality of signings, especially from the Southern conference teams, has gone through the roof.

Ex-NHL and former AHL guys seem to have been announced on an almost daily basis. In fact we were all left a little underwhelmed on Monday when Belfast confirmed forward Daymen Rycroft as their latest signing. In any other year Rycroft would have been viewed as an excellent signing and probably still will be, but what, no American league games, no NHL try outs, games of even draft selection.

Coventry looked down their noses at the signing confirming their second Leeb brother Brad to their roster, taking them to over 940 American League games on their team already.

By this time next week the Steelers will have equalled if not surpassed that number with their next signing. It’s a dramatic U-turn by the bigger Elite league teams to turn their back on run-of-the-mill East Coast League and Central League players this year, especially for their important key positions.

Thompson, head coach of the Blaze, disregarded two senior GB internationals in order that he could upgrade his imports.

Ryan Finnerty has taken his time looking for quality and proven experience. In Cory Pecker he signed vast quantities of both, in Jorgensen he signed a player who impressed so much in his first year in the league with Brahead and with Tylor Michel he took a player he had experience of playing alongside for two years.

The Steelers have a signed contract off their next guy and I’m guessing he’ll be the biggest name and highest profile player they will take this summer. His name will be announced once his education has been agreed by the University of Sheffield, where he will study for the next two seasons.

When confirmed Finnerty and the Steelers believe they will have captured a player who will lead them through the next venture in their history.

The help and assistance of the University has in the past helped the Steelers bring in players who made a difference like Steve Munn, Randy Dagenias and Scott Basiuck.

Belfast believe the same with their signing of 21-game NHL’er and 314 game AHL’er Noah Clarke. Coventry have taken it another step with Mike Danton, an 87 game NHL’er and a man with history and a past, seven years out of the game serving time for ‘plotting to commit a murder’ - I don’t think we’ll mess with him!

I don’t think a league campaign has been as eagerly anticipated for a long time with so many new and exciting players with great resumes and still so much more to give.

That’s the exciting thing about the yet un-named Steeler signing ... he’s still a player at the top of his game and not one on the way down.

A coach of an Elite League team said to me this week: “It’s like the old Super League days.” He isn’t wrong. Teams have been smarter in their recruitment, taken longer, waiting for the right players.

“I still believe some teams may even start the season a guy or two down waiting for the right players rather than taking a guy for the sake of it.

Sheffield may fall into that category as well if Finnerty can’t find the right man.