Jordan Owens signing, confirmed on Wednesday, is the latest indication that the Steelers re-building is going to plan.
The 32-year-old forward can play all three positions after a lengthy career in the AHL and Europe.
I’ve seen a lot of people comment on his physicality and link to his You-Tube fights – however a lot of that was in his early days, we have signed a hard working, hard nosed player with an offensive upside.
A great skater who we believe will be a top-six forward. A player with experience who will bring leadership.
When I spoke with Jordan I was enthused, he comes over as an enthusiastic man.
When I asked his strengths he told me in a millisecond “My compete level – I love to compete and battle.”
Now those are assets we all all love to see on the ice.
This latest signing means that Paul Thompson has just three more players (two forwards and a defenseman) to recruit before the start of the season.
Another defensemen will be announced next week with a further forward the week after, by then hopefully Thompson will have completed our line up for the final push before we hit the ice and play our first exhibition games against Ben O’Connor’s new team Leksands on the 11th and 12th August.
On the back end the one slot that remains available is for a good all around defenseman.
Despite the Belfast Giants telling everyone otherwise, it won’t be Kevin Raine, they seem obsessed in telling the world it is, but it isn’t and never has been.
Up front I believe Thompson is looking for two top-six forwards, one a centre and the other a winger.
Paul has been chasing a couple of players all summer, waiting patiently as he believes he knows the names of the players he wants.
It’s a roulette game in many ways with both players and coaches holding their nerve. Very exciting though if Thompson can deliver.
It has been a long time hasn’t it since we saw 16 new faces on our roster, young Jordan on the apprenticeship programme, the Whistle brothers and 13 new imports.
I think as much as we all loved the old guard there was an acceptance that the time had come for a change.
Agreed we didn’t want to see the likes of O’Connor (moved to Sweden) and Roy and Nelson (bother retired) vacate the Steelers locker room and thus always expected a high turnover, now it’s just three spaces bigger.
Many of the new signings will soon become household names, those same names will be on the back of your Steeler shirts and become your kids heroes in the same way as Levi, Fitzy, Benny and Moose were.
I’m pleased that whilst we have gone younger with signings like Pitt, Eberly and McFadden that we have too brought some experience in with the likes of McGrath, Owens and Lawrence. Balance is the key.
I’m lucky in the fact that I speak with the head coach several times a day.
The one common theme is that we needed hockey players who are ‘intelligent hockey players’ the new buzz word in our sport is ‘Hockey IQ’.
I think what Paul means is guys who understand the game, systems and can play in both ends of the rink.
I think these experienced guys (McGrath and Owens) bring exactly what Paul is looking for.
Martinelli and McFadden certainly bring those ingredients to the back end. Add them to Mark Matheson and Davey Phillips plus the yet unannounced signing and I think we have a strong and more mobile defensive core – all of course dependent on the last signing on the blue line.
So, four weeks this Saturday it all starts – Steelers v Leksands and a first chance to see the new team and of course Ben O’Connor who will be playing for our opponents. I can’t wait.