Justin Hodgman: Steelers' ace says Keaton Ellerby will boost Sheffield's defence
Sheffield Steelers will unleash a big, physical defence on EIHL rivals this coming season after adding 6ft 5ins Keaton Ellerby to their roster.
He joins a blue line that already includes Adrian Saxrud Danielsen and Davey Phillips, both of whom are 6ft 3ins.
Ellerby has a big frame and an even bigger reputation.
He played 218 games in the NHL (Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets) before moving first to Kazakhstan, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Austria and finally Hungary.
It was at that last port of call, at Ferencvárosi TC, that Ellerby, 32, played alongside Justin Hodgman, who has also signed for Sheffield and has played a role in bringing his pal to the UK for the first time.
Hodgman told The Star: "I've been anxiously awaiting this announcement of Keaton's deal!
"When I saw he signed in Budapest last year, I actually reached out to him on social media to get some information, and he helped facilitate my move to FTC.
"And vice versa, I was really pushing to get him to Sheffield this year. This is a great signing for our team."
Ellerby, who played for Team Canada when they won the Spengler Cup in 2015-16, finished last season as a Hungarian champion, and will want to end the upcoming season with silverware.
The d-man, who played alongside ex-Steeler Stefan Meyer at Rochester Americans, said: "My conversations with Aaron Fox were good. I liked his vision and philosophy on how the game should be played.
"I liked what he told me about the structure and professionalism of the organisation and liked the way Aaron conducted himself in our negotiations.
“We have had great times since moving over to Europe, seen some great places and met some incredible people. We are excited about extending that journey to the UK, the idea of playing in an English speaking country was a draw for sure.”
Ellerby, a former international team mate of Steelers' centre John Armstrong, added: "I’m told we play in a great building, live in a nice city and have incredible fans.”
The skater says he can bring an all-round game to Sheffield.
“I play a physical game and whilst I am a defensive defenceman I do like to join in the play and help out offensively. Whatever helps the team win.”
Coach Fox said the 15st. 6lb player "skates extremely well for his size. He can play a physical game when needed and is extremely sound in his own end.
“Because he skates so well I feel like he will bring some two way offense to our group as well as I like our Ds to play fast and join the play as much as possible.
“Keaton will be a guy who is capable of playing in all situations and I think his experience at the highest levels of North America and Europe will be a great addition to our team on and off the ice.
"I’m looking forward to getting Keaton in and getting things going.”