Sheffield’s player carousel went for another spin today with the arrival of Goalie Matt Climie from Austrian outfit Innsbruck; and the departure of defenceman Jiri “George” Gula.
Climie, 35 has played 265 AHL games with the likes of Iowa, Houston, San Antonio and others; and has played 5 times in the NHL. He has been in Europe since 2015, taking in stays in Germany, Italy and Slovakia.
The club also confirmed the release of Jiri Gula, who signed last off season. He played 15 times for the Steelers.
While no one is questioning the wisdom of a coach who has won the Stanley Cup as a goaltender; Tom Barrasso’s decision to pick-up a new keeper is certainly interesting – it seems to be the one area of recruitment Paul Thompson got right over the summer. His stats may not look great, but there is a strong argument for Jackson Whistle being the Steelers’ best player so far this term (counter-argument: he’s had to be); and it remains to be seen if Climie is competition or a replacement for Whistle, or if his signing is simply a case of having an experienced veteran on hand to guide a younger player.
The move also demotes Brad Day to third-string. Again, it remains to be seen if this marks the beginning of the end for his stay with the Steelers, but the option could be there to send Day out elsewhere on a two-way contract to gain some experience.
The Steelers were always likely to release a blue-liner after the return of Ben O’Connor, and the sword fell on Gula. He may not actually have been the teams weakest defender; but with Barrasso wasting no time in shaping the roster to his liking; he very possibly felt that Gula’s play didn’t marry-up to his vision for the team. It is also unlikely to be the last bit of roster tinkering Barrasso engages in for the time being.
Climie is active for the Steelers next game, tomorrow Wednesday 31st October against the Coventry Blaze.