Fife Flyers are embroiled in a waiting game in the transfer market as the new season looms around the corner.
The Kirkcaldy club has had a challenging summer with a reduced budget coupled with a deflated pound making it more difficult to attract top North American talent to Fife.
Eight import slots remain unfilled with just three weeks until the first preseason game, but assistant coach Jeff Hutchins explained that the club is taking a patient approach to recruitment in the hope of securing ‘high end’ targets in a late summer signing spree.
“I know the fans are frustrated but you want to get the best possible players for the best value for your pound,” he said.
“We can fill the team up tomorrow with what we consider substandard players and have a team signed up, ready to go, but sometimes patience is a virtue, and the longer you wait, the better you get.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking but sometimes you come out the other end, and because you’ve waited that bit longer, the high end player that you wouldn’t have got at the beginning of the summer is now ready to come.
“It’s just a waiting game.”
Hutchins did confirm that the club has reached a verbal agreement with two import defencemen and that announcements will follow once the paperwork is complete.
However, that leaves Fife with two further D-men, three forwards, and a netminder still to recruit, albeit with the competitive action still six weeks away.
“The real season doesn’t start until September 16 so there’s no panic from our side,” Hutchins said.
“We have to balance the books and get the best possible players, and that involves being patient and seeing what’s available at the end of the summer.”
While the import situation remains unsettled, Flyers further strengthened their Brit pack this week with the confirmation that highly-rated local duo Chad Smith and Reece Cochrane have signed for the 2017-18 season.
Smith, a 18-year-old forward – son of former player, David Smith –, featured for Flyers at the tail end end of last season, while blueliner Cochrane (16), makes the step up from junior development.
Both will combine their Flyers duties with appearances for Kirkcaldy Kestrels in the SNL, with Cochrane also available for Fife Falcons U20s.
Smith said: “I’m really excited to sign for the Flyers this season. I feel I have a lot to prove and I am excited to do exactly that this season.”
Cochrane added: “I’m excited to be given the opportunity to be part of the Flyers organisation and looking forward to training full time.
“My aim is to develop my game to a level where I can start pushing to be involved in match day squads during the upcoming season.”
In his dual role as the club’s director of player development, Hutchins will likely have a key role to play with the youngsters next season.
“Chad will continue his development by training with us,” Hutchins said.
“There is a lot to work with in his game, he is a strong skater, has good hands and hockey IQ.
“He obviously needs to get bigger, stronger and faster in the coming seasons in order to compete with men. He will be on fitness programs that will address his needs.
“Much like Chad, Reece needs to get stronger and work on his foot speed.
“His skating ability is his biggest strength, he has had a half year training with us and we expect that he will be a regular feature at our training sessions this season.
“Reece has the potential to be a very reliable British defenceman in the coming years, we are very excited at the prospects for him.”