With little cap space to work with this off-season, the Minnesota Wild have been quiet. They traded away Cam Talbot and Kevin Fiala while re-signing Marc-Andre Fleury, but besides these moves, not much has happened. That changed today, with a depth signing being made to bolster the bottom six.
Minnesota Wild General Manager Bill Guerin today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club has signed center Sam Steel to a one-year, $825,000 contract.
Steel is just 24 years old and still has time to grow into the player many thought he would become. Steel couldn’t convert an incredible junior career into NHL success, scoring a career-high 22 points over four seasons with the Ducks. He’s still young, and the skill is clearly there; it’s worth the risk that Guerin is taking with the signing.
Last season Steel collected six goals and 14 assists for 20 points in 68 games for the Anaheim Ducks. The 5-foot-11, 184-pound native of Ardrossan, Alberta, set career-highs in games played and blocked shots (27) and tied his career-best in goals for the fourth consecutive season.
In his career, Steel has 24 goals and 41 assists for 65 points to go along with 52 PIM, 77 blocked shots, and 111 hits in 197 career NHL games in part of four seasons with the Ducks (2018-22). He provides good faceoff value as he led NHL rookies in faceoffs won (369) and faceoff percentage (50.3%) in 2019-20 (min. 400 faceoffs).
The former 30th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft enjoyed a successful career in the WHL for the Regina Pats. In 258 games, he tallied 123 goals and 215 assists for 338 points. He helped Regina advance to the 2018 Memorial Cup and was named Memorial Cup MVP leading all players in scoring with 13 points (2 goals and 11 assists) in five games.
If Steel can find a way to translate all that offensive success he enjoyed during his days in the WHL to the NHL, the Wild will be getting a steal at a price. If Steel still can’t find his footing with a new team and new opportunity, it’s just one year wasted, and he’ll be off the books at season’s end.