Fife Flyers import roster next season will be mostly made up of new recruits, the Press can reveal.
Head coach Todd Dutiaume’s hopes of retaining a core of his play-off semi-finalists have been hampered by both retirals and players moving to other clubs.
So far, three of the 14 imports to ice for Flyers last season have re-signed for another Elite League campaign in Kirkcaldy, namely Ryan Dingle, Shayne Stockton and Phil Paquet.
However, Dutiaume expects only one or two more to follow suit meaning that around two-thirds of imports arriving in Fife this summer will be new faces.
“We’re looking at four, possibly five returning from last season,” Dutiaume said.
“Out of the existing group that would be a great number.
“There were areas we wanted to improve on - and areas that we can improve on.
“There will be a few unfortunate retirals. Guys have a life plan so we have to respect that.
“There will be a group of guys we won’t have back, a couple of guys will sign with other teams, and negotiations are on-going with a few others.”
Dutiaume refused to confirm names of players moving on but the Press understands that veteran forward TJ Caig is one of two possible retirals from last season’s squad.
With as many as eight or nine new imports to recruit, Dutiaume is busy pursuing a number of potential targets.
“There’s offers out there - and more will be going out,” he said. “We’re very pro-active and have a very good jump this year.
“Without retirals we would have been looking at six or seven back - but retirals and guys going to other teams whether for a different experience or a significant raise is out of our hands.
“But signing guys like Phil, who is a leader on the ice, Dings, who leaves it all on the ice, and Stocks, who is a smart hockey player and gets on well with everyone - that’s a good core of leadership and talent in our line-up.
“When you have that to start off with you’re heading in the right direction.”
Dutiaume has been encouraged by the positive response he has had from players he has spoken to over the possibility of a move to Fife.
“Most players that I talk to have heard really good things about Fife - how players are treated, competitive salaries, nice flats and cars,” he said.
“Now that we have that alumni network it makes the job so much easier than starting from scratch. Sometimes players are the best recruiters.
“And having made the final four in two of the last three years and finishing tied for the conference, I can tell our targets that we want them to be the difference makers.”
Dutiaume also said that he won’t rush into appointing a new assistant coach following Danny Stewart’s move into the top job at Coventry Blaze.
“I don’t think that’s a role I need to fill right now,” he said. “It will be primarily a playing position first and someone who can give me a hand with the day to day stuff and to bounce things off.”
Dutiaume revealed that he has also held talks with Brits based outside Fife as he looks to add depth to the squad, but he has been put off by wage demands.
“We’ve gone outside to talk to a few Brits but it’s a very competitive and expensive market to get into,” he said.
“It’s something that we’re keeping our finger on the pulse with, but if we have to pay a Brit more than an import, it gets to the point where we’re getting stretched out.
“It’s easy to say we have 2000 people in the building but we’re a gate-based club and that has to pay all the bills.
“We don’t have endless sums of money or £500,000 in merchandise. We’re not dealing in that market.”