Which Sheffield Steelers player is Aaron Fox most looking forward to watching?

Sheffield Steelers' new intake of players is dominated by north Americans so it was perhaps easy to overlook the arrival of Czech forward Martin Latal.

Sunday, 5th September 2021, 12:08 pm

Of the seven players new to a Steelers' shirt, five are Canadian and one American.

But if you ask coach Aaron Fox who he is most curious to watch when the EIHL starts again, it's the 33-year-old from the eastern province of Moravia that springs to mind.

"Most of the new guys coming in have nice looking CVs" he acknowledges.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

"Keaton Ellerby is a big heavy guy who skates for his size, he will be good in the D zone and bring some offence as well.

"If Daine Todd is in good shape he is a really good player.

"For me it's Martin Latl, to be perfectly honest.

"I think he is kind of a wildcard in our group, his skating is so, so good. He played a solid game and role in the Czech Extraliga for a long time and I think his speed is going to cause some problems in our league. He could be a really fun-to-watch one for me."

Martin Latal. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Fox said Latal's role for teams like BK Mlada Boleslav and his last club HC Litvinov provided energy and commitment at both ends of the ice.

"He was considered a shut-down, third line guy arguably the best penalty killer in the league because of the pace he played with.

"With his speed and how fast we like to play I think he will be a solid energy guy for us and I think he will find a way to be a good offensive player as well."

The coach said he expected him to score more points here than in his homeland.

Jonathan Phillips - similar style to Latal.

"We are a pace-driven team and he fits that bill, along with a lot of the other wingers we have.

"I think he will be able to create some havoc and cause a lot of turnovers and generate some pretty good offence for us."

He said there were some similarities with skipper Jonathan Phillips, although Latal had played "at a level that is higher than ours."

Latal was coming to play on both special teams and win trophies, said Fox.

Mikko Kuuka was in talks with Sheffield. Pic: Dean Woolley

Meanwhile, the coach has confirmed that he had been involved in talks with Mikko Kuukka, who played 18 games for Sheffield in 2019-20.

"I had some conversations with Mikko. There was mutual interest, it was more about financially what it would look like and also he's a real defensive defencemen and I felt that signing somebody who could play a bit of a two-way game was going to be important, especially with having Davey Phillips, Adrian Saxrud Danielsen and Keaton Ellerby as guys who defend well already.

"I know we probably have enough scoring in our offence, but when a guy like Daine becomes available it is hard for me to not go down that road."

While the new players are hopefully an upgrade, Fox said he was happy that he had a "pretty good core coming back from that 2019-20 year, especially in forward positions.

"There is a big change in our 'D' obviously, but after the Elite Series I know what I will be getting out of Sam Jones, Saxrud Danielsen and Kevin Schulze."