There may still be a number of holes yet to be filled in, but Fife Flyers’ fans can start to see the outline of the team being put together by coaches Todd Dutiaume and Jeff Hutchins for the club’s 80th anniversary season.
So far, they like what they have seen.
The club has brought back its top line forwards, and a former former all-star netminder, and has now added two new imports with more to follow, particularly on the blue line where the coaches are keen to raise the bar all round.
The fans’ wishlist of returnees has pretty much been ticked in terms of playmakers and goalscorers.
But it’s the prospect of a fit Evan Bloodoff hitting the ice that is one to excite.
His loss through injury was a massive blow during last season’s run-in – possibly the difference between finishing as high as second and their final spot of seventh.
Bloodoff’s determination to strap up and play in a bid to get Fife to the play-off finals also spoke volumes about the player’s commitment – Todd Dutiaume remarked at the time that no-one in the stands had any idea how much he went through to play in those closing games.
Fighting fit and refreshed for a new season, Bloodoff is the player to light up match nights and deliver game-winning goals.
His return along with that of the tireless Chase Schaber, the strength and skill of Dannick Gauthier and the irrepressible spirit of Carlo Finucci who took his game to a new level last season, gives Fife some real potency up front – and the coaches haven’t yet showed their full hand.
And it’s who they add to that mix could that hold the key to further progress on the back of last season’s Gardiner Conference triumph
New centreman, the immensely experienced Paul Crowder, will be a key player – and he’ll bring the mentality from a championship winning dressing-room at Cardiff Devils to Kirkcaldy.
There is still scope for a marquee signing too – up front or in defence where Fife are only just beginning to reveal their new-look blue line.
The return of Shane Owen gives the club a netminder they know and trust – and one who delivered a sterling all-star season before heading to Sweden.
Last season was a transient one for Owen – four clubs and three countries, something every pro hockey player will understand.
Despite restricted time with BIK Karlsoga in Sweden, ECHL outfits Wichita Thunder and Rapid City Rush, and then KH GKS Katowice in Poland, Owen continued to post impressive save stats.
A return to Fife can only help him settle once more, and the intensive pre-season schedule gives him and his defencemen the opportunity develop those all-importnat bonds.
If they gel quickly, then this Fife team will be built on the most solid of foundations.