IT'S fair to say forward Tanner Eberle was among the more popular import signings to step out on to the ice for Sheffield Steelers during a testing 2018-19 campaign.
Goals and points may have been difficult to come by for the 25-year-old Regina-born winger but if there's one thing that will see the Steelers' faithful make allowances for that it is effort and attitude and Eberle had it by the bucketload, consistently prepared to put his body on the line.
That is why he finds himself among a handful of returning imports at the beginning of a new era under recently-installed head coach and GM Aaron Fox, who has already made great strides in remoulding the team's roster in an attempt to close the gap on leading pair Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils.
After mulling over his options since the season's end, Eberle - with over 170 ECHL games and 11 AHL appearances under his belt before being persuaded by former Steelers' coach Paul Thompson to make the switch to the UK last summer - is back on a one-year deal at the FlyDSA Arena.
And Fox, who last week added veteran forward Brendan Connolly to his roster, is convinced Eberle will prove a more productive asset this time around.
“I think this being his second year over here, he will acclimate quicker and, with a bit of puck luck, he could easily be a 15+ goalscorer for us," said Fox. “Most importantly, this was the place he really wanted to be. I watched a bunch of tape on him and he looked into his options but his heart was still in Sheffield, so we were able to quickly get this done."
Eberle, who posted 13 goals and 18 assists in 65 appearances for the Steelers last season, admits he is hoping to have a bigger impact during his second season in the UK top-flight.
“I really enjoyed my first year in Sheffield," he said. "It was my first year playing outside North America. I’m hoping for bigger and better things this coming year and can’t wait to get back over there and hook up with the guys.”