Sheffield Steelers boss Paul Thompson expects their biggest rivals to “clean house” this Summer.
The Play off winning boss believes Panthers will bounce back stronger after a domestic season of disappointment.
Games between Steelers and Panthers are key elements in both teams’ seasons - with fans craving bragging rights as well as points.
And while Sheffield are loading up on new players he expects Panthers and other rivals to do the same, particularly Cardiff Devils, whom he said won the League partly because of the strength of their core players who had been there for a significant time.
“Cardiff aren’t going to stand still, Nottingham had a bad year by their standards, they are going to ‘clean house,’ Guildford are looking a tidy little unit, Milton Keynes are looking good” he said.
Referring specifically to Panthers, he said: “I don’t know if they had the horses last year to get the job done in our domestic league and that proved right.
“He (Corey Neilson) will put that right, I am under no illusions of that. They will get that right.”
Belfast Giants on their day last year “were as good as anybody, their speed their skill-set, their poise, their defence, the way they moved the puck,” they were close to silverware but ‘didn’t cross the line’, he said.
Braehead Clan could be energised by the arrival of a new coach.
At Manchester Storm, Ryan Finnerty could bring in big players that would make “it a difficult place to go.”
But Steelers can’t worry about anybody other than themselves, he said. Much of next year’s culture will be influenced by mature players.
“We are trying in to bring in the best people and I don’t care how old you are” said Thompson.
“Look at the NHL its full of 35 plus guys. I think the veteran, experience side is as important as the energy of youth.”
Former Steelers d-man Russ Moyer is to play a second season with Fife Flyers.
The experienced Canadian has been announced as the club’s second signing of the summer.
Moyer, a league winner with Sheffield Steelers in 2016, says he’s keen to add more honours to his resume.
“Both my wife and I are very excited to return for another season in Kirkcaldy and we really enjoyed our time last year,” he said.
“Hopefully this coming season we can have more success on the ice and get the city excited about the club.
“It will be nice to have a couple new clubs and I am sure they will build really competitive teams.
The games against the other Scottish teams are always competitive and I would expect nothing less this coming season.
Having the three conferences will definitely make a championship attainable and our goal is definitely to win trophies.
“If we don’t do this I would consider the season a disappointment.”
Moyer featured in 62 games for Flyers in 2016/17 and picked up 42 points and scoring nine goals across all competitions.