Keefe hoping new signing Palmberg can sharpen Giants' attacking edge
The Belfast Giants have announced a big signing in Swedish forward Rickard Palmberg in a bid to revitalise their attack.
The 30-year-old, from Lindigo near Stockholm, joins the Giants having spent a month out of the game after leaving Czech side Berani Zlin at the end of October.
While he scored only one goal and one point in Zlin, Giants head coach Adam Keefe will be more excited about Palmberg's record in the 2018-19 season with Timra IK in the Swedish elite league (SHL).
Palmberg ranked second in the team with 31 points in 46 games, scoring nine goals and 22 assists, however he was unable to prevent them from being relegated to the second division, the Allsvenskan.
That led to the forward opting to make the switch to the Czech Republic at the start of this season but, after failing to settle in Zlin, he will now bring his talents to the Elite League and to a Giants roster still struggling to find a consistent edge in attack.
"Once Rickard became available we wanted to bring him to Belfast quickly," claimed head coach Keefe.
"He will add creativity to our offence."
At 5ft 11in, Palmberg is not the biggest forward, but what he lacks in size he makes up for with his creativity and his ability to pick the perfect pass for a team-mate to finish.
After making his way through the Swedish ranks, serving parts of eight seasons in Division One, he got his shot in the Allsvenskan when HC Vita Hasten signed him in November 2015.
Palmberg repaid them with 47 goals and 76 points in three seasons, earning the attention of Timra and a move to the SHL in the summer of 2018, and he once again stepped his game up a level with his incredible returns.
Now the challenge is for the Swede to help a Giants team who, despite hitting back with 10 goals in two games at the weekend, still rank just fifth in team scoring in the Elite League, averaging 3.13 goals per match.
Palmberg's debut will likely come in tonight's Challenge Cup quarter-final second leg against the Cardiff Devils at the Viola Arena, with Keefe's side trailing 1-0 after last week's first leg.
The Belfast Telegraph understands that there will be no immediate outgoings from the team despite the arrival of Palmberg, with the Giants keen to have 14 imports available to them due to the ongoing absence of defenceman Kevin Raine.