How Sheffield Steelers' last signing could surprise the EIHL

It would be truly advantageous to Sheffield Steelers if their EIHL rivals dismiss the threat posed by new signing Josh Nicholls.
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Granted, the Canadian failed to score in 30 games last season for China's Kun Lun Red Star.

His assists tally was a modest two and he ended up minus six in the plus-minus stats of a fast-failing side that never found its rhythm.

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A graph of the career of the 2010 draft by NHL giants Toronto Maple Leafs would show him going from the AHL to the "dropping" to the more modest surrounds of the UK's Elite League.

Josh Nicholls Picture courtesy of Storhamar Josh Nicholls Picture courtesy of Storhamar
Josh Nicholls Picture courtesy of Storhamar

But disregard this 31-year-old at your peril.

Steelers' coaching staff firmly believes Nicholls, and Patrick Watling, will bring new energy and offensive expertise as top-six forwards.

As for Nicholls, he is confident that his career will soon be back on track after a season to forget.

Asked when he felt he was in his prime as a skater and an athlete, the player from Richmond, British Columbia, answered: "I think I am right in my prime... if anything I am at the highest level of understanding of what my game is, what I can bring and the hockey game in general."

Nicholls will be a new man on Steelers roster Pic Hayley RobertsNicholls will be a new man on Steelers roster Pic Hayley Roberts
Nicholls will be a new man on Steelers roster Pic Hayley Roberts
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He said his defensive role at Red Star had rounded his game - he had previously focused more on offensive skills -and he had developed because of it.

"I have had a ton of experience in a bunch of different leagues over a 10-year professional career and have seen it all, so I have an understanding of what I can bring and I look forward to bringing it" he said.

In terms of fitness, he added: "I feel in great shape and am excited to hit the ground running."

Nicholls says his decision to play in the EIHL doesn't mean he will be competing at a level far below his previous standards.

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"I don't look at it that way, it is an opportunity to be part of a rising league.

"And while school (he will be sitting a Global Business MBA at Hallam University) had a big part in going to Sheffield, it (EIHL) is a popular league which is getting more popular.

"I want to experience it and be part of that change in the narrative about the league.

"I hear that everything is pretty much top-notch within the Steelers' organisation.

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"I have experienced highs and lows across the world and hearing it is a well-run ship means it's something I really want to be a part of."

Nicholls will be finding out more about his dad's heritage, while he is in the UK.

He said he'd enjoyed sampling his Filipino mother's culture out east and was now going to discover more about his Dad's British ancestry.

"I have been in big cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Moscow, now I am looking forward to seeing what Sheffield is all about...sometimes a smaller place means you can get to know people more."