Historic draft - then Sheffield Steelers take on Manchester Storm

Sheffield Steelers' roster for next month's mini-series will start to take shape on Monday night - a year to the day since the club lifted the Challenge Cup.

Sunday, 7th March 2021, 11:34 am

A fascinating player-draft event will be screened live via the EIHL's Facebook page, (7pm) when Steelers, Manchester Storm, Nottingham Panthers and Coventry Blaze will pick seven players each from a pool of 70.

Each roster will end up with 18 skaters and two goalies.

It is only when the clubs involved ink their seven chosen players that the respective coaches can begin the task of filling the eight work permit import slots to join the third category of five 'protected' players.

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Brendan Connolly - can he come back for the EIHL tournament?

Sheffield would probably like to submit the names of Robert Dowd and dual national Brendan Connolly, if both are able to leave their present clubs, in that protected sector, along with Jonathan Phillips and defenceman Davey Phillips.

The case of Liam Kirk is an interesting one - Steelers would only be able to add him to the protected line up if he signs for them, for next season.

So coach Aaron Fox has an interesting challenge ahead of him in that protected category alone.

Once the draft is over, Fox can then get on with the business of choosing his imports - it is at this stage that he'll know how many defencemen and offensive players he should be loading up on.

Sheffield Steelers v Manchester Storm re-visited in the mini series

Players who can play in either defence or attack are likely to be of a premium.

The relaunching of Sheffield's elite ice hockey programme hasn't been formally announced, but The Star understands Steelers will have a friendly game first, against Manchester Storm, on Thursday, April 1.

That game, like all the others, will be at Nottingham.

It is thought that Ryan Finnerty's Storm will be Sheffield's first opponents when the serious action starts for them on Sunday April 4.

Fox's men will clash with Coventry Blaze on Tuesday, April 6.

All these fixtures are subject to confirmation.

Meanwhile Marco Vallerand is enjoying life at Slovenia club HK Olimpija Ljubljana after ending his first loan period of the coronavirus lockdown at Italian side Eppan.

The winger said he left Eppan because of "the uncertainty of the playoff" situation there, alongside a boost in salary.

"I’m loving it. The hockey is so much better and much more fun to play" he said.