Signings Recap: Five clubs add for EIHL challenge

Sam Jones has made the step up to the Elite League with Fife Flyers (PHOTO: Swindon Advertiser)

Fife Flyers haven’t wasted any time in getting their team with the addition of three players since our last round-up as their beef up their British core.

Chad Smith and Jordan Buesa have agreed to returns for another campaign while highly-rated Swindon Wildcats defenceman Sam Jones has made the step up from the NIHL to make it five names on the roster for Todd Dutiaume’s side for the new season.

Dutiaume spoke to the Flyers website about his pleasure at having two of his young talents in Buesa and Smith commit to another year in Kirkcaldy.

“Jordan has the qualities you look for in a young player,” he said. “He works hard on and off the ice, is eager to learn the game and he’s respected by his teammates.

“He’s hungry to increase his role in the line-up and knows what he has to do for that to happen. We look forward to working with Jordan again this season.

“I’m pleased that Chad has made the decision to stay on with us and to further his development. He’s a great local talent who will be a big asset to the club.

The next step is to get him into games with some real time on the ice. I discussed at length with him, during the signing process, that we would provide the support of our strength and conditioning coach and I look forward to seeing him come into camp in top form, ready to go.”

Jordan Buesa, along with Chad Smith, have committed in Fife for next season (PHOTO: Jillian McFarlane)

For Jones, it’s a step up after a year with Swindon Wildcats, with whom he won the NIHL Division 1 South title and scored the most goals for a defenceman.

But his departure has pleased his former coach, Aaron Nell, who was pleased to see him make the move to the Elite League.

“I’m delighted for Sam on signing in the Elite League and I remember talking at the start of last season about this being his goal for his first year back in the UK,” he said.

“Of course, we would have liked him back in Swindon next season but as a club, we pride ourselves on developing young British players, so it’s great for Sam to be the next one to make that step.

“This is the right move for Sam, after Christmas he was certainly best D man and arguably the best player in the league and at his age this is a great opportunity for him.

“He made a great impression on all the players and I know they are all happy for him in securing a place at the higher level.”

The destination of Brendan Connolly’s next club has been revealed after we reported he had left Glasgow Clan previously and he’ll ice with Sheffield Steelers next season.

Brendan Connolly will be wearing Steelers orange next season (PHOTO: Al Goold)

The 33-year-old has been among the top scorers in the league in the last two seasons, scoring well with Belfast Giants in his first year before heading to Scotland, where he picked up 75 points in 68 games before injury ended his season prematurely, forcing him to miss both the play-offs and Great Britain’s World Championships.

Steelers coach Aaron Fox says what Connolly has brought to his previous teams is why he wanted to snap him up as he looks at restoring Sheffield’s position after a disappointing campaign last year.

“Brendan is a guy who has proven that he can really produce at this level” said Fox “The intangibles he brings on a nightly basis is what I love most about his game.  He plays on the edge and is super competitive.

“He’s one of those guys that really cares about winning and will do whatever is asked of him to achieve that.  I think playing with that emotion and energy is something this team lacked last year.  He leaves everything on the ice and I think our fans will fall in love with that part of his game.

“He can play multiple positions and also had some really good chemistry with Vallerand back in Greenville a few years ago, they were one and two in scoring that season.”

Leaving Sheffield is defenceman Josh McFadden, who is heading to Germany to sign for RV Landshut in DEL 2 after his year in the Elite League.

While Connolly has opted to leave Glasgow, Jack Musil is staying for another campaign, with his return confirmed by the club on Wednesday.

And he spoke of his delight that former captain Zack Fitzgerald would be taking on the coaching mantle, replacing Pete Russell.

“Fitzy was always a calming person around the rink and everyone kind of looked up to him as an older figure and someone you could rely on,” Musil told the Chat Chat podcast.

“Before he was announced, no-one really knew what was going on, but there was a sigh of relief when I heard he was taking over.

“You could always talk to him and he’s such a nice guy. He’s a leader on and off the ice and knows the game really well. We all loved him as a captain so I see no reason why he can’t step up and be a great coach for the Clan.”

Coventry Blaze have strengthened their blue line with the addition of 25-year-old Justin Hamonic, who arrives from French side Ducs d’Angers, where he iced in 47 regular season and playoff games contributing 10 points.

And his signing is one that immediately strengthens the Blaze defensive core, according to head coach Danny Stewart, as he explained on the Coventry Blaze website.

“Justin instantly makes us better defensively. He’s a big body, very strong and in tremendous shape,” he said.

“He’s a solid defenceman, but what I like is that he can also skate and move the puck well. Justin’s got a very good hockey IQ and will complement our current guys on the back very well.”

Guildford Flames also went about their business by signing former Milton Keynes Lightning forward Owen Griffiths, who is set for a second term in the top flight.

The Welshman picked up 20 points in what was troubled campaign at the club, who have since left the Elite League and Flames coach Paul Dixon reckons the issues at Lightning have benefitted his latest capture.

“This was a great opportunity for us to get another quality, good skating young British player on our roster,” he told the Flames website.

“Milton Keynes as a club last year had a lot of nights when injuries depleted their roster, but Owen benefited from that situation by getting a lot of quality ice time and playing in all kinds of roles and in higher leverage situations.

“He really came along, and we think he can help us add some more depth to our forward units to hopefully help us be a better team this season.”

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