Steelers’ speedy summer recruitment reached its conclusion after the announcement that former NHL’er Mike Duco had signed for us last weekend and goaltender Tyler Plante comes in for Frank Doyle/Josh Unice.
Of all the summer signings, the Duco one seems to have gone down the best. And Duco was pleased, too; his Twitter account put on 1,200 followers in six hours!
Duco is a character, on and off the ice, and carries a familiar nickname: ‘The Duke’. Steelers fans will, of course, remember Tommy Plommer, who famously wore that name tag as well.
If Duco can leave as many memories and good feelings as Tommy did, then the Steelers will have signed a gem. It’s a very differently looking Steelers side, though, isn’t it?
There does seem to be a lot more grit.
Is that fair? Or does it just seem that, with the two recent additions of Levi Nelson and Mike Duco? The reality is that we still have flair and skill in a abundance: with Dowd, Legue, Vestberg, Moyer, Sarich, O’Connor... not forgetting probably the most skilled of them all, Fretter.
The reality is that the Steelers have only lost one skilled forward over the summer months and that was Forney. They have replaced him with forwards who pretty much matched his ECHL scoring and went on to play in the AHL and (in Duco’s case) the NHL.
I think that both coaches, Thompson and Hay, would suggest to us that we are, they hope, a more rounded hockey club. Certainly deeper.
So maybe the first unit doesn’t score as many as, say, Fretter Roy and Forney scored last year but if the second and certainly the third units are stronger do we contribute more as a team?
Should Mosienko end up along side Fretter and Roy, will he score more? I think it’s fair to suggest that his work ethic and defensive responsibilities mean that line will concede less, for sure.
Lets assume that Nelson and Duco play along side Dowd. You would have to assume that this unit could deliver the same output as Dowd did, with Mosienko and Jonathan Phillips last year.
It’s the next line where the Steelers might reap the most reward however.
Last season Jeff Legue returned from the EPL and was placed on a checking line with Jason Hewitt and Phil Hill. No disrespect to either Hill or Hewitt, but they may well be replaced on that line with Vestberg and Phillips and I think most would suggest that this would be an offensive upgrade.
Let’s move on to the back end. Last year Darrell Hay, Gord Baldwin and Dustin Kohn managed 16 goals - I think that Moyer, Coyle might contribute that, though I think Fitzgerald may help in other areas.
And then goaltending? We have done well, very well.
A great deal of thought went into the recruitment of Tyler Plante, a solid 6ft 3ins giant of a man.
I guess the one downside of recruiting as early as we have had to do this year - because of Champions League requirements - is that we do, of course, show our hand to our Elite League rivals.
Reality is, though, that we can’t do anything about that.
We have to make sure our squad is here for the first week of August and if that means being signed up by mid-June, then so be it.
n The Arena put tickets on sale for the Champions Hockey League games last week - hundreds flew out of the door immediately.!
Add to that the incredible pre sales for the Holiday Inn Royal Victoria Cup at iceSheffield on August 15/16 and the response we are getting from the fans is that they are excited by the new look team and can’t wait to get going.
It’s less than eight weekends to go before those Braehead games so I hope the summer gardening is coming on nicely!
Keep watering those baskets... because soon you will have hockey to once again take over your lives.