Sheffield Steelers make 'game-changing' signing
Sheffield Steelers have emerged victorious in the chase to sign Moscow "game-changer" Nikolai Lemtyugov.
The left winger actually inked a contract with Aaron Fox several weeks ago, but the Sheffield coach said he would ditch the EIHL paperwork if a Kontinental Hockey League club came in for him.
Lemtyugov, in search of a bigger pay in the superior league, couldn't secure a place in his home nation and so honoured the initial deal with Fox, whom he played for at Medvescak Zagreb in the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga, for a spell last term.
He is Steelers' first ever Russian and comes with a strong résumé.
At 33, he is yet another wise head to add to the other veterans in the roster for 2019-20.
And he is clearly someone who can overcome adversity.
In 2017, he received serious stomach and spleen injuries in a freak on-ice accident.
But he fought back and is now in great shape.
Fox said: "I had him for a while with me last year and you could see his talent level was at another level and that was after missing extended time because of injury.
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“He has had a full off-season working out and will come to camp in top shape ready to go.
"He played quite a few games with (Steelers' centre) John Armstrong last year so it’s nice to have someone he knows here as well.”
Lemtyugov was drafted in the seventh round of the 2005 NHL draft by St Louis.
He remained in Russia for the two seasons that followed before joining AHL side Peoria Rivermen when in an 18 month spell he scored 27 goals, 56 points in 96 games.
In the following decade, the forward played 388 KHL games for several clubs including a four year spell at Avangard Omsk.
“Nikolai is a high-end power forward who is extremely skilled and I expect to be a game-changer for us” confirmed Fox.
“He can play a physical game when needed and is really strong on pucks in the 'O zone.'
"He can play both wing positions and is also really good on the Power Play. His English is good enough and has great character in the dressing room.”
The coach added: “We signed Nikolai a few weeks ago with a KHL out-clause, that has now passed and is 100% committed to the Steelers. He’s coming with his wife and two children”.