Ben O’Connor to play in the KHL.

Ben O’Connor to play in the KHL.

Robert Newbolt23 May 2018Robert Newbolt»
 

Ben O'Connor leaves Sheffield for Bayrs Astana of the KHL.

 
 
 
 

This may not sound like a big deal, after all players get transferred all the time. But Ben O’Connor will become the first British player to be signed in the KHL after agreeing a one-year contract with Kazakhstan side Barys Astana this week.

Son of Steelers' defenceman Mike, Ben joined the Steelers three seasons ago after an extensive stint in Kazakstan (3 seasons), a year with Morzine in France and previously three seasons with EIHL sides.

Negotiations have been taking place over the past few weeks between O’Connor and his agent with the KHL outfit. The club were kept fully advised about the potential move that will see Ben join the Kazakhstan club next month.

Whilst Ben has a year left on his Steelers contract the club and player have settled all contractual issues allowing the move to take place.

“What a couple of weeks it’s been” said Ben “It’s an incredible opportunity, the opportunity of a lifetime and once I could not pass up

“It’s not just about the salary, it’s the chance to play in one of the best leagues in the World. To test my self at the highest level. It is what all players want to do

“Tony (Smith) and Paul (Thompson) have both been brilliant with me. I had a year left with the Steelers but they have done everything possible to assist this move to happen. I’m leaving the Steelers on good terms and with the clubs blessing and good wishes which is nice"

He leaves a large gap to be filled in the Steelers defence, not least because of his offensive addition: he was Sheffield Steelers top overall scorer last season with 68 points, 21 of those being goals.

Interview from Ben with Peter Spencer: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p067ztnt



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