Sheffield, Cardiff or Guildford for Waller?

Cardiff Devils are said to be leading the chase for Sheffield Steelers' target Josh Waller.

By Bob Westerdale
Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 10:48 am

The Guildford Flames' forward was an exciting contributor in all 16 games for Sheffield in the recent EIHL mini series.

He started off on the fourth line, chalking up an assist and hitting the bar on his debut.

By the end of the tournament he was a regular on the third unit, learning in particular from the likes of veteran Jason Hewitt as well as occasional line mates Sondre Olden and Brendan Connolly.

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Waller found the net against Nottingham Panthers, Coventry Blaze and Manchester Storm and helped himself to four assists.

Sheffield head coach Aaron Fox was impressed with the speedy winger, who has just turned 22 and can count himself unlucky not to have made the Great Britain line up for the World Championships in Latvia.

Steelers will doubtless have made overtures to Waller, but there is growing speculation inside the game that Cardiff Devils are ahead of others in the pecking order for his services.

Cardiff legend Matt Myers, the centreman whose own future is yet to be determined, says Waller has much potential.

Josh Waller: Pic by Dean Woolley

"Josh Waller skates like the wind," he told The Star recently.

"He's very similar to Jonna, skipper Jonathan Phillips.) There are things he needs to learn, like not making his risk plays over the blue lines. But when he cuts those things out he will be that much more advanced."

Hewitt agrees the player can make great strides.

"He has a big future, he's still in his early 20s and people are raving about him, he has good skill.

Waller takes on Nottingham Panthers

"Josh has a bit to learn but he will have benefitted from playing that many minutes with Jonna and myself.

"We talked a lot during the tournament, he had a bit of success and the whole thing would have done him the world of good.

"He's a great kid, and someone who wants to learn."

Steelers kept an eye on long-term target Sondre Olden, as he played for Norway in the IIHF World Championships.

Sondre Olden, right,: distant target.

Olden, who will play for HC La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland next season, was a stand-out player for Sheffield in the 2021 mini series and Sheffield have adopted a 'never-say-never' attitude regarding his future signing.

Olden played six games for the Norwegians, some 80 minutes and 119 shifts in total, scoring one goal and three assists.

Meanwhile, former Steelers' prospect Jordan Griffin, 19, has signed for NIHL club Leeds Knights, who will be coached by ex-Sheffield team boss Dave Whistle.

He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I do want to play in the Elite League again one day and although it didn’t go as well as I would have liked it to, having been with the Steelers for those two years, being around that environment and the training, seeing how people act and what it takes to play at that level, it’s something that stays with you as a young player and is crucial for your development.”