Elite League: Season preview 2016/17

It’s been a hectic summer in the Elite League, with numerous teams boosting their rosters with high-profile signings.

BIH casts its eye over the ten teams and their hopes for the new season:

Sheffield Steelers – Paul Thompson has added some Scandinavian flair into his forward options, with Andreas Valdix looking a particularly shrewd acquisition.

Ervins Mustukovs backstopped the Steelers to the title in 2010/11 and is a significant upgrade on last year’s netminders, while forward Jesse Schultz’s record in the AHL suggests he will be a handful in the EIHL.

With Robert Dowd and Ben O’Connor amongst the best Brits in the league, Steelers are once again the team to beat as they chase a third successive title.

Cardiff Devils – Will hope to go one better this time around after finishing runners-up in both the league and cup last term.

Scott Hotham’s signing boosts Devils’ defensive unit, while former Asiago duo Sean Bentivoglio and Layne Ulmer are proven winners.

Patrick Bordeleau adds extra toughness and if Devils can transfer the spirit of the Big Blue Tent into Ice Arena Wales they will be a force to be reckoned with .

Braehead Clan – Despite playing in the supposedly “easier Conference” Clan are still chasing their first-ever league title.

Ryan Finnerty has beefed up his roster, with Jay Rosehill, Trevor Hendrikx and Corey Cowick giving his team a much tougher look.

With forward Jeff Ulmer bringing a wealth of experience to the roster, this could finally be the year Clan make the breakthrough.

Belfast Giants – Played well at times last season, but inconsistency proved to be their undoing.

Former HC Bolzano pair Steve Saviano and Alex Foster are excellent additions to the forward ranks, while Blair Riley also appears to be a solid pick-up.

Former NHL ‘D’ man Jim Vandermeer’s return after an impressive stint at the end of the last campaign is another boost to Giants’ hopes of mounting a serious title challenge.

Nottingham Panthers – Finished 10 points behind the Steelers last year, but success in the Challenge Cup and end-of-season play-offs was enough to earn Head Coach Corey Neilson a new deal.

The departures of Evan Mosey and Cam Janssen hit Neilson’s team-building plans, but ex-NHL enforcer Brian McGrattan’s arrival will ensure the Panthers won’t be bullied.

Forward Alex Nikiforuk and blueliner Dan Spang also look to be solid acquisitions.

Fife Flyers – Ended last season in excellent form, just missing out on the Gardiner Conference title and reaching the Final Four Weekend in Coventry.

Sébastien Thinel’s record in the CHL suggests he’ll be a quality signing, while Matt Sisca and Brendan Brooks are already proven Elite League performers.

New netminder Shane Owen boasts excellent statistics during the past few seasons and ex-Steeler Russ Moyer adds extra quality to their defensive unit.

Dundee Stars – Head Coach Marc LeFebvre was keen to upgrade his team’s goaltending next season and secured the services of highly-rated Joe Fallon at the start of the summer.

Felix Antoine Poulin looks a solid addition at the back, while Vinny Scarsella had been added to the forward ranks after a prolific season with Manchester Storm.

Stars’ roster could be argued to look a bit thin on the ground, but LeFebvre will hope he has unearthed a hidden gem or two to keep his team heading in the right direction.

Coventry Blaze – New Head Coach Danny Stewart has been tasked with restoring an identity to a team which largely underperformed last season.

Bjorn Bombis and Robin Bergman bring European know-how to the roster, while Garrett Klotz adds some much-needed toughness.

With Matt Marquardt and Darcy Zajac looking ideally suited to the British game, Blaze appear well placed for an improved campaign.

Manchester Storm – Finished ninth on their return to the British game, but will be expected to perform much better this time around.

Forward Mark Heatley looks a quality addition, Eric Neilson and Darian Dziurzynski bring added grit to the roster, while new ‘D’ man Trevor Johnson is a proven winner from his time in Italy.

With an improved squad a play-off spot is a realistic aim, although a place in the last four would be a significant boost to the club’s profile.

Edinburgh Capitals – Endured a miserable 2015/16 campaign, but have assembled an impressive looking roster this summer.

Netminder Travis Fullerton has joined the club from the Clan, while forward Jared Staal’s signing represents a big coup for the Capitals.

Russian forwards Yevgeni Fyodorov and Pavel Vorobyev both have excellent CV’s and are exciting additions to the squad.

Ian Schultz brings toughness to a roster which could surprise a few teams this season.

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