Sheffield’s very own Steeler – locally born Tom Squires – will be given the chance to blossom in Ryan Finnerty’s 2011-12 team.
With Rob Dowd having quit the club for Belfast Giants the way is now clear for Squires to stake a claim for a regular spot.
Squires signed for the Elite League side from Sheffield Steeldogs as a 19-year-old last December.
There wasn’t always a lot of ice time for him, but the half-season proved a valuable learning curve.
Coach Finnerty said from his home in Canada: “He will be given the chance to step up and go for the ninth or tenth forward spot.
“Next season we will want to go four lines and use all the depth available.
“He is ready to go and will only get better by playing.
“He and Jonathan Phillips, who also didn’t get all the ice time he’d have wanted after coming back from injury, will be hungry. And that is what we’ll want.”
Finnerty says he felt that veteran defenceman Kevin Bolibruck would decide against returning for a fourth season with Sheffield.
And that he was waiting for Ervins Mustukovs’ agent to let the club know whether he’d fill Steelers’ goal next term.
“The agent has put the feelers out in the European market to see what else is available” said Finnerty.
The coach also thought that Joey Talbot may retire.