Experienced McGrath expected to have deep impact with Sheffield Steelers

NEW FACE: Evan McGrath has signed up with the Sheffield Steelers for the 2018-19 Elite League campaign. Picture submitted by Sheffield Steelers.
NEW FACE: Evan McGrath has signed up with the Sheffield Steelers for the 2018-19 Elite League campaign. Picture submitted by Sheffield Steelers.
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AFTER a week or so of big name departures, Sheffield Steelers' fans will be pleased to see that the work is continuing to fill those gaps left behind.

The retirements of Levi Nelson and Mathieu Roy were followed by confirmation that last season's top point scorer, Ben O'Connor, had sealed a deal with Swedish second-tier outfit Leksands, two weeks after his original deal to join Barys Astana in the KHL fell through.

And, as expected, teenage forward Liam Kirk brought the curtain down on his apprenticeship with the Steelers when he was selected as a seventh round pick by the Arizona Coyotes in the annual NHL Entry Draft.

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But, despite the understandable sadness surrounding those departures, Steelers head coach Paul Thompson has steadily continued with his rebuilding programme, one which began with the jettisoning of nine imports less than 48 hours after a trophyless campaign had ended, with those subsequent departures now thrown into the mix.

Defenceman Ryan Martinelli arrived on Thursday after making the switch from EIHL rivals Belfast Giants while, today, seasoned and well-travelled centre Evan McGrath has been added to the 2018-19 roster. They join fellow new faces in Jackson Whistle, who replaces Ervins Mustukovs in goal, defenceman Josh McFadden and forwards Josh Pitt, Brandon Whistle and Jordan Eberle.

The extensive resume of McGrath, which has given him a wealth of experience both in North American and across Europe, is what first alerted Thompson.

“It has been a long process to sign Evan, but one we stuck with because we believed he was the right player for us," said Thompson, who is understood to have made two more signines in recent days, with anouncements expected shortly. "Evan has been an impact player everywhere he has played and we expect him to be the same for us.

“We wanted a centre with a high hockey IQ and we believe he is that man. We also needed some experience and you only have to look at Evan’s resume to see that he has plenty of that. With his experience comes knowledge and he still has that hunger and desire to win.

“I think he is a fantastic addition to our hockey club, he can play in every situation, put up points and score goals."