Sheffield Steelers: Marc-Olivier Vallerand pleasantly surprised by quality of summer signings
Marc-Olivier Vallerand was one of the first few players persuaded to ink a contract with Aaron Fox's Sheffield Steelers side for 2019/20.
He was a marquee-signing, we thought at the time.
And he still is, but there are plenty of others who have been drafted in since who are likely to be equally eye-catching.
Not least of all Martin St. Pierre who is due to make his debut for Sheffield in the final pre-season friendly, against MAC Budapest on Saturday night.
Goal-sniper Vallerand, who has been wrestling with an upper-body injury this week, said he had been pleasantly surprised by the number and quality of signings to follow him into the Steelers fold.
"I think Foxy made a great job signing some top notch players - you look at the line up we have got three-four lines that can score now so it is going to be exciting," Vallerand said.
The French Canadian said the atmosphere at iceSheffield for the two friendlies against HK Poprad last weekend was unbelievable and "shows how these guys love their home team."
He is looking forward to playing at the Arena - providing his injury clears up.
And he will doubtless be hoping his Arena introduction, whenever it is, will mirror his iceSheffield debut, where he scored, a goal which he recognised takes some of the pressure of expectations off him.
Vallerand said he was happy with the chemistry he had enjoyed on a line with Brendan Connolly and Robert Dowd.
"Me and Conns played together for a few years back in the East Coast and we were feeding off that chemistry," he said.
But he denied it was on his agenda to be Sheffield's top scorer this season, an achievement he has managed before elsewhere.
"I thrive on playing well, fast and shooting pucks - those are my best abilities," he said.
"Obviously it helps me scoring goals but I am looking forward to winning some games and if I can help the team by scoring goals then it will be good but I am not looking to be any top scorer."
Vallerand, 30, is also looking forward to playing against his old Elite League team Coventry Blaze.
"I had a great time in Coventry; the fans loved me," he said.
Fox said he would not risk Vallerand against Budapest if it meant the injury was potentially aggravated.
He said James Bettauer would play, as should St Pierre and Eric Meland.
The two Czech goalies will split netminding duties again.