Belfast Giants bolster their squad ahead of campaign
The Belfast Giants are just one step away from completing the roster they hope will bring the Elite League title back to the Odyssey Arena.
New coach Derrick Walser's defensive unit is now finalised after experienced Swede Johan Ejdepalm agreed a deal to join the Giants as the sixth defenceman to sign this summer.
Thirty-three-year-old Ejdepalm, who has split his career between the top leagues in Germany and his homeland before playing in Hungary last year, takes up the club's 12th import slot, but as Sweden is in the European Union, he doesn't need a work permit to play in the UK.
The Giants now have just one more import space to fill before the season-opening Challenge Cup double-header in Scotland against the Dundee Stars and Edinburgh Capitals on Friday, September 4 and Saturday, September 5.
Director of Hockey Operations Steve Thornton will now, along with Walser, target one more forward to complete the team.
"We really wanted a mobile defenceman that skates well and excels defensively," explained Thornton. "Johan has been consistently matched against teams' top lines in the DEL and Swedish Elite league which are some of the best leagues in the world.
"His character and work ethic are top notch and we feel that he will bring defensive stability to our defensive corps."
Meanwhile, another Giants defenceman, Calvin Elfring, has decided to call time on his career at the age of 39.
The vastly experienced Canadian wasn't offered a new contract by the Giants and rather than looking for a new club he will hang up his skates after a 17-year long professional career, the final two of those being spent in Belfast, where he was part of the team that romped to the Elite League title in 2014.
"I was lucky enough to have a long and fulfilling career," said Elfring.
"I feel this is the right time to walk away from the game on my terms. This is the first year that I have noticed a decline in my abilities.
"I would play forever if it was physically possible, but it isn't."