SHEFFIELD Steelers’ head coach Ryan Finnerty has spoken of his delight at bringing in former NHL forward Steven Goertzen on a two-year deal to the Elite League club.
The arrival of the 28-year-old former Columbus Blue Jackets winger marks another serious statement of intent from the South Yorkshire club who ended last season without silverware.
Finnerty doesn’t expect the Canadian-born signing to be leading the scoring charts for the Steelers, but anticipates the new arrival – who also has more than 400 games to his name in the American Hockey League – to increase the team’s physical threat up front.
“It’s been a hard long slog but – at the end of the day we finally got our man,” said Finnerty.
“This guy is only 28 and still has a long career ahead of him – he is quality.
“Steve hasn’t been signed to be our top scorer, he’s coming in as a big power forward who forechecks hard and plays with an edge.”
Goertzen, who has been enticed to the UK by the prospect of a doing a degree at the University of Sheffield, was drafted by Columbus as a seventh round pick in 2002. He later played for the Phoenix Coyotes and the Carolina Hurricanes, but the majority of his playing career has been spent in the AHL, chiefly with the Syracuse Crunch, where he scored 57 points in 231 appearances, including 26 goals.
Last season saw him make his first move outside of North America when he signed for BK Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic league, but now he has switched his sights to the UK’s top-flight.
““I spoke long and hard with Ryan and he made me feel very comfortable with the league and the team in Sheffield,” said Goertzen. “I pride myself on my all-round play. While I’m not know for being an overly-offensive player, I’m comfortable contributing points on the board.”