The Cardiff Devils added another name to their 2018/19 roster today by announcing the return of Brit Josh Batch for his eighth year in the Welsh capital.
Batch first joined the team back in 2011-12 and has been with the team ever since.
The 27-year-old is already in the top 10 all time games played by a Devil with 346 and with a full season ahead should overtake the likes of Gerad Adams, Steve Moria and Shannon Hope. Only one current Devil has more with Mark Richardson at 520.
Batch has been used mostly as a defenceman through his seven years in the EIHL but has also been utilised as a winger in recent years.
Over the years Batch has shown himself to be a solid shutdown player in the league, closing gaps with his defensive play while also quietly becoming one of the more physically imposing players in the league, willing to drop the gloves previously against some of the leagues heavyweights like Zack Fitzgerald of the Braehead Clan.
On the teams website as they announced the signing, head coach Andrew Lord said “Batch is so versatile and we are confident in him playing either forward or defence. He is big and strong and has the ability to create chances with the way he gets into the offensive zone and creates havoc for opposing defencemen.
“Nobody likes getting chased down and hit by a 6’4”, 220 lbs guy and when Batch is on his game, he is tough to deal with. I love having him up front on forward, but equally I know we can drop him back to play defence at any time, which makes him so valuable to this team.”
With Batch returning to the ranks it means the Devils have only returning players in their ranks so far. Both goalies Ben Bowns and Tom Murdy are back, while Craig Moore, Mark Richardson and Batch are the returning blue liners (although Moore and Batch are able to play forward too).
Fan favourites, and the only confirmed imports Joey Martin, Joey Haddad and Matt Pope are all confirmed back on the forward unit, while it’ll be the first year Andrew Lord steps onto the bench full time after spending the past four years as the teams player coach.
Even with a small sample of signings, the Devils are sticking with a system that has worked well over the past few years, with little turnover in players and keeping the same core group of guys together when they can.
So far only two players are confirmed to not be returning, Drew Paris spent one year in South Wales before signing for Karlskrona in Sweden this summer, but a bigger loss was felt as four-time EIHL Defenseman of the Year Andrew Hotham confirmed he wouldn’t be returning for a fifth year, but his next location hasn’t been confirmed as of yet.
Devils GM Todd Kelman also weighed in on the return of Batch by saying “Batchy is such a vital component of this team and I cannot imagine him playing anywhere else. He brings so much to the club and has been a big part in our success since we took over the Devils 4 years ago.
“He is an exciting player to watch and is so good with the fans. He is such a genuine person and makes time for everyone, which is something you cannot teach. It comes naturally to him and that is one of the big reasons that he is so popular with our fanbase.”
Kelman also spoke to our very own Matt Burgess over with Dai-Sport confirming more signings are on the way.
“We just like to keep things close to our chest and announce things in time. I can tell you we have more people signed, but we’re just keeping things quiet right now and will drip feed the information.
“We’ll drip-feed signings over the next few weeks and we’re in the process of building another team that we think can win the Elite League.”
The Devils still have some business to conduct before the start of their preseason against the Nottingham Panthers in August 11th, and they’ll welcome Red Bull Salzburg to Cardiff on August 30th to kick off their second straight Champions Hockey League campaign.