The Belfast Telegraph has learned that the Belfast Giants are set to bolster their line-up for their Premier Sports Elite League run-in with the return of defenceman Patrick Mullen, who has signed a deal until the end of the season.
The Giants released a statement last week indicating they had made a deadline day signing and it is understood that they have dipped into their former player pool to do so.
Mullen will bring a wealth of experience to the table having played in elite European leagues such as the Kontinental Hockey League, the Swedish Hockey League and the German DEL, as well as provide significant depth for the line-up for the final eight weeks of the season.
The 35-year-old Boston native hasn’t played since he was last in Belfast for the pandemic-shortened 2019/20 season, where he put up five goals and 24 points in 42 games, but has been working out at home throughout the pandemic.
Given his time out of the game and the fact that the Giants’ defensive corps are fairly settled, Mullen is unlikely to come back in and slot straight into the line-up, rather he is likelier to be tasked with being injury cover in the final weeks of the campaign, but will play a significant role in that time.
The Giants have been operating with a bare minimum squad of just 19 players, meaning an injury could be significant down the stretch, but the addition of Mullen gives head coach Adam Keefe some versatility to play with.
With Great Britain international Mark Garside able to fill in at forward, it means the Giants have all eventualities covered in the event of any injury and a quality option on the blue-line ready to fill in when needed.
Indeed, Belfast’s defence has been comfortably the best in the Elite League this season, conceding just 77 goals in 41 games, and it seems unthinkable that Keefe would make any significant alterations, but having Mullen in reserve is a superb safety blanket.
It is understood the American will not arrive in time for this weekend’s top of the table double-header with the Sheffield Steelers, although they are expected to run a full line-up for that game anyway, but will be in for the Challenge Cup final against the Cardiff Devils on Wednesday March 16.
After seeing title rivals the Steelers make two deadline day additions in the form of HC Innsbruck duo Antonin Boruta and Nico Feldner, Giants fans will be glad to see their team splash the cash, with Mullen’s arrival slightly delayed while arrangements were made behind the scenes.