The Elite Series is a matter of days away as excitement and anticipation levels start to build for the first piece of competitive top flight ice hockey in just over a year.
We’ve seen the Protected Player lists, the drafts and the coaches have made their import signings and now the attention turns to the Motorpoint Arena where the four teams will meet and play throughout the course of April.
In the meantime, we’ve taken a look at the import players looking to make an impression in their relatively short stay in the UK and here are the six we think could stand out.
Jeremy Beaudry (Sheffield Steelers)
Beaudry could well be a gem in the defensive lines for Aaron Fox and comes to the Elite Series as a player who can skate fast and shoot hard.
With just under 200 appearances in the ECHL in all competitions and the ability to act as a two-way defencemen, you wonder if Beaudry could be looked upon to take on the mantle vacated by Ben O’Connor in fulfilling that role.
The 27-year-old is also a valuable asset on the powerplay so could be a threat on the special teams and one Fox could be ready to use at will. He certainly has the potential to be loved by Steelers fans.
Austin Cangelosi (Nottingham Panthers)
The signing of Cangelosi was talked up by Nottingham Panthers Director of Hockey Gui Doucet when he was announced last Friday and using terms such as ‘high quality centreman’ would not have been used lightly.
When the Eliteserien in Norway was shut down, Cangelosi was in the top ten points scorers and second highest goalscorer, so, taking that into account, Doucet could well have spotted a predator.
Having team-mates Brendan Ellis and Nick Dineen could help him settle in, but Panthers will give him the responsibility to lead the line and has the potential to thrive in the next five weeks.
Max Krogdahl (Coventry Blaze)
He’s only 22, but the arrival of Max Krogdahl is that seemed to get Blaze coach Danny Stewart after the Norwegian defenceman agreed to come for the competition.
What he lacks in experience for his tender years, he’ll give heart and determination to a team keen to show what they are all about in this tournament.
Having experienced EIHL heads like Nicolai Bryhnisveen, Paul Swindlehurst and David Clements around him will be a benefit, but his defensive game and desire to deny opposition goals could be a real asset for Stewart.
Maxime Fortier (Manchester Storm)
Fortier has an eye for goal, as was shown in his junior career, scoring 294 points in 293 games for Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL, so those numbers make you sit up and take notice.
His transition into the pro game hasn’t quite taken off in the same way, but when Fortier finds his way to goal, he’ll punish teams and coach Ryan Finnerty will expect that of the 23-year-old.
He has great speed, an eye for goal and an excellent finish and if the production is anywhere near as good, Fortier has the potential to lead the way in the Elite Series in terms of scoring.
Johno May (Nottingham Panthers)
May has a few attributes that can be beneficial for Nottingham Panthers and two stand out – his size and his flexibility in the forward lines.
The 27-year-old is six foot five and weighs just over 200lbs so straight away, he’s an imposing figure for any defencemen who come up against him.
The fact he’s a winger who can switch into a more central position gives coach Tim Wallace quite the option and one the other teams may not be keen to face.
Simen Andre Edvardsen (Coventry Blaze)
The 22-year-old Norwegian is a product of Storhamar’s junior system, but he stands on the cusp of an international call up, has CHL experience and could bring something fresh to the tournament.
Edvardsen’s points output improved in 2019/20 prior to the shutdown of the Norwegian league (21 in 24 games compared to 18 in 45 games the season before) and this fresh challenge gives him an incentive to try and get on the flight to Latvia.
His potential is huge and working with some good talent in the offensive lines could help him shine in this competition. The fact he’s due to return to Storhamar next season shows how keen the