Four players from the Cardiff Devils have changed teams – albeit temporarily – in a North America-style draft for the new Elite Series.
Matthew Myers, Josh Batch, Sam Duggan and Toms Rutkis will all feature in the one-off tournament, which is due to start next month in the absence of the cancelled 2020/21 Elite League season.
The Coventry Blaze, Manchester Storm, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers will compete in the five-week tournament has partially been devised to provide Team GB players competitive game time ahead of the World Championships in May.
Manchester Storm opted to trade away their Number 1 overall pick to the Nottingham Panthers, who duly selected former Devils and Team GB goaltender Ben Bowns.
Ben Bowns! pic.twitter.com/rYt5WsV989
— EIHL | #2021EliteSeries (@officialEIHL) March 8, 2021
Bowns returns to UK shores after making the switch from the Devils to Austrian side Grazz99ers.
Bowns’ debut season on the continent was hampered by a serious knee injury which restricted the 30 year-old to making only 13 appearances, yet he still managed a respectable .904 save percentage.
Cardiff Devils and Team GB stalwart Matthew Myers will wear the colours of rivals Sheffield Steelers after he was picked 4th overall.
Long-serving Devils defenceman/forward Josh Batch was selected 7th overall by the Manchester Storm.
Batch has most recently been playing for the Swindon Wildcats in the absence of the Elite League season, where he has posted 2 goals and 2 assists in his first four games.
Sam Duggan, another Devil who has been plying his trade elsewhere, was picked by the Coventry Blaze at 14th.
The 22 year-old has impressed with Swedish third-tier team Segeltorps IF recording 24 points (11G, 13A) in 39 games.
Duggan will join up with another Devils youngster, Toms Rutkis, who was selected 22nd overall.
Elsewhere, Cardiff-born forward Ben Davies was Manchester Storm’s 8th overall pick and fellow Welshman Owen Griffiths was selected 16th by the Nottingham Panthers.
The Elite Series draft in full:
1. Nottingham Panthers – Ben Bowns (traded pick with Manchester Storm)
2. Manchester Storm – Ben Lake (traded with Nottingham Panthers)
3. Coventry Blaze – Mike Hammond
4 Sheffield Steelers – Matthew Myers
5 Sheffield Steelers – Sam Jones
6 Coventry Blaze – Paul Swindlehurst
7 Manchester Storm – Josh Batch (traded with Nottingham Panthers)
8 Manchester Storm – Ben Davies
9 Nottingham Panthers – Lewis Hook (traded pick with Manchester Storm)
10 Manchester Storm – Craig Peacock (traded with Nottingham Panthers)
11 Coventry Blaze – Cole Shudra
12 Sheffield Steelers – Joshua Waller
13 Sheffield Steelers – Alex Graham
14 Coventry Blaze – Sam Duggan
15 Nottingham Panthers – Mark Garside
16 Nottingham Panthers – Owen Griffiths (traded pick with Manchester Storm)
17 Manchester Storm – Matt Haywood
18 Nottingham Panthers – Kieran Brown
19 Coventry Blaze – Mac Howlett
20 Sheffield Steelers – Ben Churchfield
21 Sheffield Steelers – Jason Hewitt
22 Coventry Blaze – Toms Rutkis
23 Nottingham Panthers – Jordan Kelsall
24 Manchester Storm – Declan Balmer
25 Manchester Storm – Stephen Murphy
26 Nottingham Panthers – Craig Garrigan
27 Coventry Blaze – Ivan Antonov (Bees IHC, NIHL)
28 Sheffield Steelers – Adam Jones (Telford Tigers, NIHL)
Additionally, the teams have selected the following players in their ’Taxi Squad’ for injuries or if players need to sit out under COVID-19 Protocols. These players will be invited to train with the teams when needed, and may be called up if players abroad are unable to return due to playoff commitments:
29 Sheffield Steelers – Jack Musil
30 Coventry Blaze – Sam Russell (MK Lightning, NIHL)
31 Nottingham Panthers – Liam Stenton (Solway Sharks, SNL/NIHL)
32 Manchester Storm – Jacob Lutwyche
33 Manchester Storm – Ben Solder (Raiders IHC, NIHL)
34 Nottingham Panthers – Morgan Clark-Pizzo
35 Coventry Blaze – Will Bray (Visby/Roma J20, J20 Div 1 Sweden)
36 Sheffield Steelers – Curtis Warburton (Sheffield Scimitars, NIHL North1)
37 Sheffield Steelers – PASS
38 Coventry Blaze – Austin Mitchell-King (Telford Tigers, NIHL)
39 Nottingham Panthers – William Kerlin
40 Manchester Storm – Sam Gospel (Leeds Chiefs)