The 33-year-old Canadian was lined up to come to South Yorkshire last summer by Steelers’ head coach and GM Aaron Fox only for the 2020-21 Elite League season to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, he spent the campaign in Hungary’s Erste Liga with Ferencvarosi, where he registered 46 points, including 17 goals, in 41 games.
It was the latest posting on a long and winding career for Hodgman who, having made five appearances in the NHL for the Arizona Coyotes and played in 157 AHL games, has made stops in several countries, including Sweden, Finland, Russia, Germany and the Czech Republic.
But his latest move brings him his first taste of UK hockey and another opportunity to show his talents as a creative playmaker.
“I spoke with Aaron and we had a deal for last year but he was totally upfront with me and when the Elite League didn’t look like it was going ahead, he gave me the heads up to move elsewhere,” said Hodgman.
“I’m a playmaker, I like setting the boys up to score. Sure I will chip in myself – who doesn’t love to score – but, overall, I love to create and make things happen.
“I hope I bring leadership as well. I have great experience in playing all over the world in a bunch of leagues, I’ve seen it all, so, I hope to add to the great leadership already returning to the team’s roster.”
Fox said he had brought in Hodgman to offer a ‘new dimension’ to a team which ended its 17-year wait for the Challenge Cup last year.
“Justin is a pure centre, who will bring a ton of high-level experience with him,” said Fox. “He’s a big body who plays a complete 200-foot game and skates well for his size.
“He’s a pass-first player who should give us a new dimension to our forward group and is excellent on the power play. He’s very excited to get in and compete for trophies.”