FORWARD Josh Pitt believes he can “spread his wings” with Sheffield Steelers after making the switch for his first season outside of North America.
The 26-year-old Canadian’s signing was announced on Wednesday by the five-time Elite League champions who, under head coach Paul Thompson, are undergoing a massive rebuild following a rare trophyless campaign in 2017-18.
Nine imports of mixed impact were jettisoned by Thompson within 48 hours of their season ending with a 3-1 play-off final defeat to Cardiff Devils, although recent weeks have seen the Steelers’ boss slowly piece together his roster for next season, with many more new faces on the way.
Pitt, says Thompson, is a player “on the up” who he feels will contribute plenty offensively, having spent the past two seasons with East Coast Hockey League outfit Kalamazoo Wings.
And Pitt, who played two AHL games for Syracuse Crunch last season, is determined to proved that he can be a major asset for the South Yorkshire club.
“I’ve served my time in North America,” said Pitt who, after playing four years at Western Michigan University turned pro with Kalamazoo in 2016. “Now it is time to spread my wings and come to Europe. After University I gave it my best to try and earn that American League deal but it wasn’t to be. Coming to Sheffield is a fantastic opportunity for me.
“After speaking with the coach I thought Sheffield was the best fit for me on and off the ice. I like the role he has set out for me. I want to contribute offensively and feel I can do that.
“I can make plays, give and take a hit as well as block shots and kill penalties but I think I’m a guy who can score and certainly hope to do so in Sheffield.”
Thompson, who has already brought in British netminder Jackson Whistle while being resigned to losing two homegrown stars in the shape of KHL-bound Ben O’Connor and NHL Entry Draft prospect Liam Kirk, is confident Pitt, who last season in scored 31 goals in a 57-point haul in 64 games for the Wings, will add some much-needed “offensive punch.”
“We have signed a player on the up,” said Thompson. “I think Josh played a more defensive role while at University but his two years pro have seen him achieve good numbers with 22 and then 31 goals. I also like the range of goals he scores and where he scores them from.
I like the role he has set out for me. I want to contribute offensively and feel I can do that. I can make plays, give and take a hit as well as block shots and kill penaltieJosh Pitt
“He is a big body who can play both wing or centre, I’ve signed him to play in the middle and add us some offensive punch – we will certainly give him the opportunity to do that.”
Pitt will make his Steelers’ debut in the team’s first pre-season warm-up games against Leksands IF on August 11 and 12. The Steelers also play Timra the following weekend.