Cardiff Devils have signed big Canadian forward Matt Pope.
Right-winger Pope, 32, fired 68 points for Tohoku Free Blades in Asia last season (33 goals, 35 assists).
Head coach Andrew Lord admits he is excited to add Pope’s speed and size to the team, saying: “He is a power forward and wins battles all over the ice.
“Matt can score, make plays or grind it out in the corners. I see him as a real complete player.
“He led the league he was playing in last season in scoring and has been a top scorer wherever he goes. I expect him to bring that offensive ability to the Elite League this season.”
Pope played at Bemidji State University in America for four years and then turned pro with the Bakersfield Condors in 2008-09, firing 63 points (30+33) in 54 games.
He then spent the next four seasons splitting time between the American Hockey League and the East Coast Hockey League before moving to Denmark in 2013 to join the Aalborg Pirates.
In 2013-14 he scored 21 goals and 26 assists in 53 games for Aalborg before moving to Italy where he played for Valpellice and returned figures of 25 goals and 41 assists in 42 matches.
Pope, 6ft 2ins tall and weighing in at 205lbs, moved on to Bolzano before going to Asia last season.
He has an offensive flair, while he also hits hard and gets into the odd tussle because of that.
The man from Langley, British Columbia will be studying at Cardiff Met’s School of Management during the 2017-18 season, another major factor in deciding the sign with the Devils.
Devils now have a total of 17 players confirmed for the new season – both netminders, five D-men and 10 forwards.
Lord still needs three import players including one defenceman and two forwards.
Signings for 2017-18 season so far:
Netminders 2: Ben Bowns, Thomas Murdy.
Defence 5: Josh Batch, Mark Richardson, Gleason Fournier (import), Drew Paris (import), Mark Louis (import).
Forwards 9: Matt Pope (import), Jake Morissette (import), Layne Ulmer (import), Andrew Lord (import), Joey Martin (import), Joey Haddad (import), Sean Bentivoglio (import), Matthew Myers, Craig Moore (British u-23), Justin Faryna (import).
Players from 2016-17 roster confirmed not returning: David Brine (signed for Medvescak Zagreb), Denny Kearney (signed for MK Lightning), Chris Culligan (retired from playing, appointed assistant coach at Cape Breton Unionized Tradesmen club, Nova Scotia), Guillaume Doucet (signed for MK Lightning).
Players from 2016-17 roster yet to confirm where they will be playing next season: Andrew Hotham, Scott Hotham, Patrick Asselin, Patrick Bordeleau.
Devils early fixtures:
Saturday 12 Aladdin Cup v Nottingham Panthers (away, 7pm)
Sunday 13 Exhibition match v Nottingham Panthers (home, 6pm)
Saturday 19 Aladdin Cup v Braehead Clan (home, 7pm)
Sunday 20 Exhibition match v Krefeld Penguins (home, 6pm)
Sunday 20 Aladdin Cup, Nottingham Panthers v Braehead Clan (Nottingham, 4pm)
Cardiff Devils will travel to Switzerland and the Czech Republic for their first two Champions Hockey League matches.
They take on HC Davos away on Thursday, August 24 and then travel to take on Czech team Bili Tygri Liberec two days later.
The first home match for Devils in CHL Group E is against Liberec on Thursday, August 31.
Davos travel to South Wales on Sunday, September 3, while Swedish team Vaxjo Lakers are at Ice Arena Wales on Tuesday, October 3.
Devils complete their group matches when they travel for the return in Sweden eight days later.
The top two teams in the group progress to the next round of the CHL.
Cardiff Devils Champions Hockey League group fixtures
Thursday 24: HC Davos v Cardiff Devils (7.45pm CEST)
Saturday 26: Bili Tygri Liberec v Cardiff Devils (3.30pm CEST)
Thursday 31: Cardiff Devils – Bili Tygri Liberec (7pm UK time, 8pm CEST)
Sunday 3: Cardiff Devils – HC Davos (6pm UK time, 7pm CEST)
Tuesday 3: Cardiff Devils – Vaxjo Lakers (7pm UK time, 8pm CEST)
Wednesday 11: Vaxjo Lakers – Cardiff Devils (7pm CEST)
Ticket information is available on the club’s official website at cardiffdevils.com