The Nottingham Panthers made a significant move in their quest for success on Friday [16 June], securing the signature of Carl Neill, an offensive defenceman with recent experience in Germany and Slovakia.
Neill joins the Panthers after an eventful season, which saw him spend the first half of the season in the International Central European Hockey League (ICEHL) before transferring to the DEL down the stretch.
The 26-year-old accumulated an impressive 24 points (including six goals and 18 assists) in the 36 appearances for HK Olimpija Ljubljana, adding a further goal to his tally during a 13-game spell with the Schwenniger Wild Wings.
Neill, a former fifth round pick of the Vancouver Canucks, boasts further professional experience in Europe and North America, headlined by a 23-point (three goals, 20 assists) season in the Danish Metal Ligaen.
However, it was during his tenure at Concordia University that he distinguished himself as a potent scorer, consistently averaging at least a point per game between 2017 and 2020 in Canadian USports.
The 6-foot-1 defender also excelled in the junior system, in which he complied 201 points (42 goals, 159 assists) in 320 appearances for the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix and Charlottetown Islanders.
“I am really happy to have signed for Nottingham and I want to come here and win,” said Neill.
“Nottingham has a history of winning and there’s a really great set-up there. I hope I can come in and contribute to a great season with a lot of success. I know Mathieu Gagnon who played in Nottingham last season and he had great things to say about the city.
“In Ljubljana I played the offensive side of my game, while in Germany I was more of a defensive guy. I can play on both sides of the puck and consider myself a two-way defenceman. I like to contribute offensively and there’s hopefully more of that to come in the future for sure.”
Added Panthers head coach Jonathan Paredes: “Carl moves very well for his size and can bring a lot of offence from the back. He is a very smart defenceman and he is a player that we feel is just entering his prime.
“Carl brings a lot of leadership skills on and off the ice which is important for a very new group. He’s a great addition to this club.”
Analysis: Carl Neill is a safe bet for the upwardly mobile Nottingham Panthers
By acquiring the services of Carl Neill, the Nottingham Panthers have bolstered their defensive unit while simultaneously enhancing their attacking potential.
The Canadian’s arrival underscores head coach Jonathan Paredes’ desire to achieve success in his maiden Elite League campaigns, which should satisfy fans and sponsors alike in Nottingham.
Neill is the kind of player the Panthers have lacked in recent years.
Offensively, he has the skill and vision to make an impact in all situations.
Defensively, he has the intelligence and physicality to disrupt high-powered offences.
And, most importantly, the 26-year-old is a clear improvement on the Panthers’ options from last season.
Neill looks to be a solid fit for the Panthers and could quickly become a fan favourite at the Motorpoint Arena as a result.