It has been some time since the Regina Pats have experienced post-season success, and players of Sam Steel’s dynamic skill inject instant optimism. Creative and crafty with the puck, the diminutive forward from the Edmonton area possesses the kind of talent that can bring fans out of their seats. When at his best, Steel is certainly capable of moving the needle in a city that is craving a return to its WHL glory days.
Selected in the first round, second overall, by the Pats at the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, Sam Steel was exactly what the doctor ordered to elevate an ailing franchise in one of the league’s most storied locales. Steel checks in at 5’11” and 177 pounds, a frame that will not physically intimidate, but a package that he uses to make opponents miss. During his rookie campaign with the Pats, where he scored 17 goals and added 34 assists in 61 games, Steel established himself as capable in all situations. But an ankle injury suffered late in the season was devastating for Steel and the Pats as he was unable to play in the post-season.
Growing up near Sherwood Park, Steel was a teammate of Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips) during his minor hockey days. Hart is Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American goaltender at the midterm. On many occasions, the pair found themselves up against another highly-touted Edmonton product Tyler Benson (Vancouver Giants). All three are involved in the Top Prospects Game festivities, although Benson will not play due to an injury.
In Regina, also known as “Rider Nation”, the Pats organization plays second fiddle on the sporting scene to the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. Despite the presence of the CFL’s most dominant marketing force, Steel and his mates are determined to bring on ice success to the Queen City. The Pats have been hammered by the injury bug this season, yet they remain firmly in the hunt for a playoff berth with 24 regular season games to play.
Through 37 games this season, Steel is on pace to eclipse his numbers from last year, as he has tallied 17 times and added 28 assists in 48 games. Steel, whose personal aspirations include studying to become a doctor, will celebrate his 18th birthday next week. He is ranked 29th in the NHL Central Scouting midterm rankings (Preliminary rating – B).
Central Scouting personnel describe Steel as follows: “Steel is an excellent skater with breakaway speed. He displays high-level vision to match a top-end skill set and possesses a quick read-and-react game. He sets up teammates as well as any playmaker in the WHL. A heads up player in all zones, Steel is quick to cause turnovers and scoring chances on the penalty kill. Not a physical player, but doesn’t back away in a physical game”.
Hockey’s Future spoke with Steel at the 2016 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, with that conversation being captured in this HF podcast.
Follow Glen Erickson on Twitter via @glenerickson51