Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume reckons he might have recruited his best team yet after completing his EIHL import quota with a Canadian defenceman.
Nicholas Rioux this week became the 13th and final import to sign for the Kirkcaldy club this summer and Dutiaume believes the 28-year-old will be a perfect fit in Fife.
The 6ft 1in blue liner joins the Flyers after spending last season with both Quad City Mallards in the ECHL, and AHL side Iowa Wild.
In 69 games, 54 in the ECHL and 15 in the AHL, Rioux managed four goals and 19 assists.
Dutiaume told the Press: “Nic came to us right at the exact moment we were looking to close things out.
“I’m glad we were patient and waited instead of just taking someone out of necessity.
“With his experience and the references we got on his game he will fit into our line-up perfectly.
“The guys we’ve got at the back end this season are all going to be dependable.
“This completes possibly the strongest roster we’ve put together to date.”
Rioux’s arrival in the UK is dependant on the paperwork being completed on his work permit application.
However, the rest of Flyers’ import stars are expected to start arriving in Fife over the weekend, while the local Brits are already on the ice.
“Barring anything unexpected, we should have all our imports in, expect Nic, by Monday,” Dutiaume said.
“That gives us a whole week to get everything in place and brings guys up to speed before the pre-season games.
“We’ll also have a whole two weeks to get the guys ready for our league opener against Coventry.
“It’s important to have a full line-up here and give them time to get ready and get used to each other.
“It will give us a chance to get guys accustomed to the systems we’ll be using and allow us a chance to get a good assessment of their fitness.
“By all accounts the guys are in great shape so we’re looking forward to putting them to the test.”
Dutiaume says he is excited for the new Elite League season after signing almost an entire new team.
Flyers have recruited 11 new imports for the 2015-16 campaign, which begins on Saturday, September 5 at home to Coventry Blaze.
Only associate player-coach Danny Stewart and captain Kyle Haines are returning from last season, and Dutiaume is confident that the new-look squad will be a competitive force in the EIHL.
“I’m really excited - it’s a brand new challenge,” he said.
“We’ve brought in a whole new set of guys which lets us implement exactly what we want, on and off the ice, right off the bat.
“Our assessment was to have a gritty team that stands beside each other, and plays hard for each other.
“We’ve got a great mix and the lines will be very fluid.
“We have a very solid back end, an excellent goalie, and three forward lines that are going to be very competitive on a nightly basis.
“We’re delighted with the players we brought in. Every player was targeted - nobody was brought in on spec.
“As a group we just need to make sure the guys come in and gel really quick.
“Once we get these guys flying I’m sure they are going to be a formidable bunch.”
Before the competitive action begins, Flyers face preseason challenge matches against Belfast Giants (h) on Saturday, August 29 and Edinburgh Capitals (a) the following night.