John Dunbar’s decision to re-sign for Guildford Flames wasn’t exactly greeted with joy by Sheffield Steelers.
Coach Paul Thompson had been keeping a discreet eye on the availability of the 26-year-old right winger, who finished second in scoring in the Elite League last season, with 81 points in 55 games.
Steelers want to build a team that is younger, faster and more dynamic team than last year’s under-achievers.
And the Canadian would have ticked those boxer, had he not accepted a contract extension in Surrey within the last few days.
“I was interested in Dunbar, he is a player who would have suited the style we want for next season, but totally respect his decision to stay at Guildford” said Thompson.
“He has speed, is a good play-maker and can score” said Thompson, of the player who chalked up 59 assists.
When Thompson arrived as Steelers coach his 2015-2016 team was probably the fast side in the division. They were pretty quick in 2016-2017 but were offensively slow last term.
Now he is clearly looking to inject some pace into a new look club, which has seen 10 imports leave the roster.
Of the imports that remain possible re-signings, there has been interest in Germany and Austria for the likes of John Armstrong and Miika Franssila.
“We said at the players’ exit meetings that we’d allow the dust to settle for a few weeks” said Thompson. “We have to see who else is around and available and the players too deserve to see what options there might be for them.
“I speak to agents all the time and will now move on to conversations with the players. At this moment there are no guarantees on either side.”
Part of the formula for hiring and re-hiring involves the family format of potential targets - a player with a wife and children, for instance, is considerably more expensive than a single man.