Belfast Giants make Patryk Wronka their first signing of 2019/20 season
The Belfast Giants have announced their first signing of the 2019/20 season after Polish international winger Patryk Wronka agreed to join the club.
The 23-year-old had long been rumoured to be on the Giants' radar, with the Zakopane native announcing he would be leaving GKS Katowice last week.
Those rumours then intensified when Wronka this morning revealed in an interview that he would be joining the Giants, with confirmation from the club quickly following.
"Moving to the Elite Ice Hockey League is definitely a step forward. I got a nice offer and I want to use it. Time will show how everything will be sorted out," Wronka told Polish Hokej Net.
"Were there other offers? Yes, I had a nice proposition, but it was the bosses and head coach from Belfast who were trying hardest for me.
"I've been (to Belfast) twice and saw what the organization in this club and the match day look like. This is the highest European level."
It's an electric signing for the Giants to kick off their summer dealings, with the club beating off interest from Slovakia, Belarus and the German second division to acquire his services.
An agile player who possesses strong skating abilities, Wronka is no stranger to getting involved with the physical side of the game as well, making him a perfect fit with head coach Adam Keefe's style of play.
Wronka is a prolific scorer and joins the team off the back of a 23-goal season with Katowice where he also scored 72 points in just 63 games, leading the league in assists and points and helping his club to third place in the Polish Hokej Liga.
In all, he's averaged 0.95 points per game across five seasons at Poland's highest level with both Katowice and Podhale Nowy Targ, scoring 62 goals and 193 points in 203 regular season games for the two sides.
He is also a mainstay in the Polish national team, with whom he is an alternate captain, and was named the best forward in the recent World Championship Division 1B as Poland won the silver medal.
Wronka will, of course, be a familiar face to Giants fans having played against them in the Continental Cup with Katowice last season, when he caught the eye of the coaching staff in Belfast.
The forward, who is primarily a winger but can play at centre, also comes with experience in the EBEL having spent a season with Czech side Orli Znojmo.
"Patryk is someone who we tracked ever since we faced him in the Continental Cup Semi-Final back in November. He is young and competes hard every night," commented Keefe.
"He is a great skater and very skilled - I know Giants fans are going to enjoy watching Patryk in action this season."
It is also believed that the Giants are the Elite League side interested in Wronka's former Katowice team-mate Tomasz Malasinski, however it is unclear how strong their desire to bring him to Belfast is.
Malasinski played on a line with Wronka last season, finishing with 21 goals and 42 points in 54 games, and it could be that the Giants would look to pair the two together in Belfast next year.
Meanwhile, former Giants netminder Tyler Beskorowany appears to be closing in on a return to Germany, with several DEL clubs believed to be wanting his services for next season.
Belfast Telegraph Digital