Flames Second Round Targets 2016: Sam Steel

I can remember hearing about Sam Steel a few years ago, dating back to him being drafted second overall by the Regina Pats in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. In the three years since, Steel has carved out a reputation for himself as a damn fine junior hockey player.

The Calgary Flames have three second round selections in the 2016 NHL Draft – 35th overall, 53rd overall and 55th overall – and Steel could be a good fit with one of those picks.


From Future Considerations:

A flashy, creative forward who plays the game with a ton of skill. A
true puck possession forward that makes his teammates better with
creative passes and a phenomenal understanding of the game. Has a very
effective shot and quick release as well as the ability to maintain
possession of the puck. Needs to get stronger and learn the defensive
aspect of the game but has top line NHL potential.

From Corey Pronman of ESPN:

After being a second overall pick in his bantam class, Steel underwhelmed
at times this season but was pretty impressive overall. He’s got
above-average to top-end skating, hands and hockey IQ. He can play the
game with a quick tempo and shows the ability to make defenders miss
with his feet and hands, while also showing the vision to create for
others. Steel is not one-dimensional, and he has shown decent defensive
prowess by being an effective penalty killer for his junior team and for
Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. One downgrade for Steel was a
notable inconsistency in terms of his offensive play.

From Aynsley Scott of Dobber Prospects:

Sam Steel is an elusive, smallish center with exceptional hockey IQ and
offensive creativity. Steel possesses elite on-ice vision and
situational awareness which, when combined with his high-end speed,
gives defenders fits when trying to shut him down. He has the ability to
stickhandle in tight spaces through traffic, or under pressure from
checkers, and he can thread the needle to his open wingers at anytime.
Steel has a deceptively hard and accurate shot, which he could stand to
use more of, and he has a penchant for scoring big goals 5-on-5. His
defensive game still needs refinement but he is a capable backchecker
and penalty killer, and displays leadership qualities on and off the
ice. Steel continues to need to grow and get stronger to make the best
of his tools but as he does he may become an even more dominant
offensive player.


After a 54-point rookie WHL season in 2014-15, Steel increased his production to 70 points over a full 72-game WHL season in 2015-16. When it’s broken down, he had 29 even strength primary points and 53 primary points overall. His even strength primary production was behind such players as Matt Phillips (Victoria), Ty Ronning (Vancouver) and Noah Gregor (Moose Jaw). His overall primary points were lower than Gregor and Phillips.

His offensive production is decent for his age group, but as you can see by the WHL comparables, he’s propped up quite a bit by power-play time.

When you control for estimated ice time (the nice people at Prospect-Stats.com have a tool), he’s behind guys like Cliff Pu, Dillon Dube, Brett Howden, Jordan Kyrou, Matt Phillips and Noah Gregor in terms of scoring per 60 minutes of estimated ice time.


For his age group and his position, Steel’s a pretty damn solid all-around center. Based on his size and style of play, he seems rather similar to Morgan Klimchuk in his draft year – though I recall noticing Klimchuk far more in his draft year than I noticed Steel during live viewings.

Functionally, he’s Klimchuk with more demonstrated offensive ability (at his age) but slightly more unevenness in the defensive zone. Klimchuk is still seen as a longer-term prospect by the Flames, as he was brought along rather slowly and surely by the AHL coaching staff. The big question is whether the Flames want to spend a second round selection on a player like Steel that has a skill-set that’s close to what they already have within their organization. They can definitely use the offensive talent, but given that play away from the puck is said to be a reason that Emile Poirier (among others) isn’t an NHLer quite yet, do they want to bring in another guy that will need time to figure that part of the NHL game out?

(It all depends on how much emphasis they put on NHL readiness when they make their draft list this summer.)


Steel is no doubt a player that the Flames are familiar with, and his offensive upside is pretty impressive. The opinion of a few scouts I’ve chatted with over the past couple of seasons is that he’s just scratching the surface of what he can become. That said, he’ll need some work away from the puck and Steel seems like a player that is a couple seasons in the AHL (and a couple of summers in the gym) away from potentially being a solid NHLer.

Previous draft target articles: Alexander Nylander | Pierre-Luc Dubois | Matthew Tkachuk | Jakob Chychrun | Olli Juolevi | Clayton Keller | Alex DeBrincat

  • Parallex

    Meh, maybe if he slips to the third round… when I take a look at a variety of rankings/mocks and assorted other lists I tend to see someone I’d rather have then Steel. Great name thou.

  • T&A4Flames

    I’m glad we’re taking a look at 2nd round targets as its a round we could potentially do a lot of damage with 3 picks. But it seems we missed a few 1st round targets that we could target if we traded down ( possibly for a goalie etc).

    • Christian Roatis

      I would’ve said trading down was a bad idea to begin with, but after hearing Craig Conroy on SN960 last week, I’m almost convinced they won’t. He talked about being excited about a few guys around the 6 spot, plus this team’s second biggest need at wing can be satisfied there.

      One of the biggest misconceptions about this years draft is that it’s “deep”. People love calling every draft a “deep” draft to hype it I suppose, and I guess in some sense every draft is deep in its own way, but definitely not the way most conceive it. 2016 is deep with good not great prospects, but very quite shallow in regards to elite and “bluechip” prospects. Trading down is rarely a good idea, look no further than 2012. Sometimes trying to outsmart yourself is the worst thing one can do.

      • T&A4Flames

        Yea, I get that. I was only suggesting a possibility or a reason why we might want to look deeper into the draft. As Kevin R said, we could also look to trade up. FN did reports on guys like Debrincat, although an intriguing prospect, a bit of a waste considering his lack of fit (as outlined in the blog itself).

        So, why not look at guys like Jost, McLeod, Gauthier etc.?

        • Parallex

          IMO there is little point looking at those guys, they’ll all go higher then it’s realistically possible for the Flames to trade up to. YMMV but I’d rather see ink on guys like Benson, Pu, Thompson, L. Johanson, & Bitten… the guys we could realistically draft with picks 35, 53, 56

          Side note: Profile on Wade Allison please… I heard good things. Seems like a guy that could be a fast riser.

        • Christian Roatis

          I think mainly because the quality of prospect drops pretty sharply pretty soon after the Flames pick, so it’s unlikely to get fair value. For example Conroy was talking about being very frustrated with the team/Feaster&Weisbrod’s (though he didn’t name them) decision to trade down in 2012 and not getting proper value for going from 14 to 21.

          Trading down is something I’ve become increasingly wary of in the 1st round because results are hardly ever good for the team moving down.

          If I misinterpreted you and you were just hoping for profiles on those guys, my apologies!

          • King Quong

            I remember a Feaster interview after they drafted Jankowski where he claimed Conroy was telling Feaster they had to move their first rounder that year for immediate help. But because of Weisbrods infamous blizzard didn’t.

          • Christian Roatis

            And Conroy would’ve been right, that 1st round was one of the worst in recent memory.

            Although, it’s kind of funny they could’ve solved their goaltending problems with Vasilevskiy.

          • Baalzamon

            Yeah, the 2012 draft class was really weird–the whole thing, not just the first round. Terrible for forward talent, roughly average for D and, for some reason, excellent for goalies.

          • Kevin R

            So with the final game Tkachuk had yesterday, he will undoubtably be taken 4th, by the Oilers or whoever they trade that pick to. Canuckles will be taking Dubois or Tkachuk, whoever is left, since they traded for Gudbrandson. So I feel we are in that nowhere land. Don’t know why, I keep seeing Nylander become Huseilius 2.0 who frustrated the hell out of me back in the days & yes, the guy was very talented. I also see the kid taking some time before he surfaces in the NHL. If we are going to take the time, I think I’d rather go with who we think is the best Defenceman in this draft.
            I know you don’t think it’s wise to trade down but I just don’t feel this year’s #6 will get us a Shawn Monahan calibre player this year. Am I the only one feeling this way?

            PS. I noticed Nylander has fallen if a few mock drafts.

          • Kevin R

            Honestly, he sounds like a more surer thing version of TJ Brodie. I can’t imagine how that could ever hurt us having him in our system. I still think from Kent’s thread we solve our top 6 forward immediate need with moving Backlund to wing with Bennett as Centre. I have a gut feeling as well that Janko is going to be a very pleasant surprise & takes rein on that #3 spot with Frolik riding on his flank. Like Andersen, Juolevi can play 1 more year with the Knights & then go pro. Depending how Kylington & Andersen do next year, we may be like Anaheim & have a wealth of young coveted Dmen to get either our Goalie or top line forward.

          • Baalzamon

            Like Andersen, Juolevi can play 1 more year with the Knights & then go pro.

            Actually no, he can’t. The only reason Andersson can play in the AHL next year is his late birthdate. Juolevi doesn’t have that. It’s two more years of OHL hockey for him, unless he makes the NHL in one of those years, or returns to Europe.

            (unless of course he’s playing in the OHL on loan, a la Julius Honka or Alexander Nylander, but I don’t believe that’s the case. I don’t think he’s currently under contract with Jokerit)

          • freethe flames

            Trading down is acceptable if you are trading for need and not for want. When Feaster traded down it was for want and so far it has not worked out.(He wanted a second round pick)
            If the Flames traded to acquire a starting goalie or a top 6 forward who could help them now and keep a later first rounder I would consider it.

            Two examples that would get my interest would be our 6th to Colorado for Pickard and a for 10. Or a deal with Anaheim for Anderson and their 1st rounder. These could be serious conversation starters for me.In the Colorado deal I would like to see if we could acquire Mikko Rantanen; 6’4 19 year old RW who scored 60 pts in the AHL. This would of course require giving something else up like 55th and one of Poirier or Pollock.

      • Parallex

        Yes. My feeling about this draft is that it’s pretty normal… as in it’s neither deep nor shallow. I don’t think the Flames should trade down (I’d be ok with trading up, depending on cost, but really only if it was to #3 or higher).


        Rando Question: What’s folks feeling on the trade value of the extra 2nd rounds we have (Dallas and Florida picks)? In terms of legitimate NHL talent?

        • SmellOfVictory

          If the Flames could trade one or both of the extra 2nd round picks for, say, a secondish line winger between 22-26, I wouldn’t complain. I don’t know if the picks are worth that much, though – it seems impossible to know what GMs are thinking at any given moment. But all it takes is for one guy to decide he needs to shake things up, or to undervalue his own player a little.

          • flamesburn89

            Not sure if he’s still available, but perhaps the Flames will give CBJ a call on Kerby Rychel around draft time. I have no idea if they’re still interested in dealing him, though.

  • GodsGotSandals

    Totally off topic but has anyone else heard the Carlyle got a second interview? I’ve been praying day and night against this guy but he got a second interview!

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Ok…. I don’t get why most posts are ignoring Jost. I have seen several draft target articles on this site and others and Jost seems to be strangely ignored…yet Debrincat, Keller, and now Steel have been profiled….what gives.

    What I don’t understand is a lot of posters rave about Tkachuk, Dubois, and Brown and Nylander to some degree but very little love for Jost. IMO he is a more complete player than all the above. We need to get over the fact that he played in the BCJHL and remember him for his complete body of work which includes His International resume.

    Most notably, captain of the U-18 National team and leading scorer in the tournament. If you don’ t know anything about the kid…you need to ask yourself why he continues to be appointed captain of International teams that have far higher profiled player from The CHL that they can’t choose

    Surely, it can’t be his size since he is 5’11 190lbs which seems to be decent Crosby or Pavelski size with some grit. He has been described by one scout as possessing Toews like leadership and determination with Kane like creativity and skill…so in essence a love child of Toews and Kane…what else would any organization want.

    Personally, as much I like Nylander for his skill, I agree that if his offense does not pan out in the NHL then he has little value (I think it will). I would much rather watch Jost go head to head with Tkachuk in the future battle of Alberta instalments. (No way Oilers pass on the shiney toy).
    I am interested in people’s thoughts on what is keeping Jost out of the 2nd ledge. As a Center, his value seems to be growing everywhere else.

    • EhPierre

      Disclaimer: I haven’t heard much about this kid until people on here started posting about him and how he’s like Toews but needs some years to develop,etc

      I looked into this kid and here’s what I got. The reason why he isn’t ranked so high is because he’s playing in an inferior league (BCJHL) when he got drafted by the WHL but chose not to go. Also, he doesn’t necessarily play a mean game. Finally, he’s signed to play with NCAA next year which recently I find teams shy away from NCAA prospects if they think a similiar prospect that’s from the CHL is available just because you avoid the situation of a NCAA prospect deciding to not sign with you 4 years later.

      Now, his pros are pretty good. Scouts are saying he has potential to be like Jeff Carter which is not too shabby but I just don’t think picking him at 6 would be the right move. I just haven’t seen much hype about him to get excited for

      • piscera.infada

        I think the BCJHL hurts him in two ways: lack of eyeballs (from media types, and people on message boards not professional scouts), and secondly because comparables out of the BCJHL are a mixed bag (you have players that put up monster numbers who are great NHLers and those who aren’t, as well as players who didn’t put up great numbers who are–the sample size of either is just too small to lend a concrete opinion). He was great at the U18s, but that’s a short tournament, meaning a very small sample size.

        I will say what I’ve said about him numerous times: he’s a very intriguing prospect. I like him a lot, and I think he’ll do good things in the NHL. He is however, a project pick (3,4,5 years out). He’s a very raw prospect. For that reason, I’m not sure he’s the right pick for the Flames at sixth overall. I still see players like Nylander and Keller (both of whom I’m high on, contrary to many of the posters here), Dubois, Tkachuk, Chychrun, Sergachev, as well as the usual suspects ahead of him. That said, I would very much prefer Jost to the Brown’s and McLeod’s of the draft.

        • Baalzamon

          Further to that; Jost’s closest comparable that I’m aware of is Travis Zajac. A fine player, but the prospect of taking him sixth overall doesn’t interest me, frankly.

          WRT the whole trading down thing, the Flames are on record saying they see a ledge after 6th overall. That to me says there’s basically no chance they trade down.

          • freethe flames

            I expect that the Flames will do what is best for the Flames. If that means keeping the 6th then that is what they will do. I also expect that the Flames have created a short list of goalies to target and have began to discuss what the cost of acquiring them would be and BB has said that the draft picks are in play to acquire said goalie.

            Good asset management would be to see what you can get for the sixth and if it adds up to more than what the cost would be then you do it. I have no idea who they have targeted or what the cost would be but I’m pretty sure that they have discussed multiple options along the way.(just as the fan base has done over the last month) I doubt any sound idea has been completely rejected. I still say nothing gets done with 6th until Vancouver has picked at 5.( although the prep work will have been down) One last thing is I would rather they trade down and get an asset they need rather reach for a home run at this point. I suspect that BT will surprise us on draft day.

          • piscera.infada

            I don’t see any way the Flames seriously entertain trading number 6, or moving down from number 6 in acquiring a goal tender. They have to feel that there are considerably cheaper options available to them than that. In addition, if one were to pay that much, the chances of keep that asset at a controllable dollar figure are less likely. More to this, I can guarantee it will not happen with a team within division like Anaheim (and that’s the only goalie I see that one could argue is “worth” the sixth pick–I wouldn’t argue that for the record, but I suppose it could be made).

            When you trade down in the draft, you are taking on the majority of the risk. It is very, very rare that a team actually re-coups lost value there (especially when the original pick is in the top-10). It just isn’t good hockey sense.

          • piscera.infada

            As a junior, against junior (not even major-junior) competition.

            If I hear “Jost is a mix of Kane and Toews” one more time, I’ll lose it. He’s not. If he was, he’d be the clear-cut first overall pick. It’s fine to like a prospect, but the hyperbole is ridiculous.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        All good points. I would have no problem if he turns out to be a Jeff Carter. I heard that others have compared him to Travis Zajac which I don’t see. I get the caution exercised with him coming from an inferior league like the BCJHL, however he seems to raise his game whenever people doubt him.

        He is not big but definately not small, I don’t see why some would feel that he is a project who is 3-4 years away. at 5’11 and 190lbs he has more of an NHL body that most coming out of their draft year. He will likely end up playing at Crosby size 200lbs. If his size and weight are correct, why would he be so far from breaking into the NHL when a player like Tkachuk who appears to be similar size is close to breaking in next year?

        I think there has to be something special with the guy if Team Canada coaches continue to appoint him the leader in all International tournaments when representing his country. If he has elite IQ, skating, passing, and scoring then there is not a lot of risk.

        On a seperate note, all the readings on Nylander that I have come across indicates that he is closer to 6’1″ and 176 lbls which is far from small. He could end up being 6’1″ 190 lbs assuming he bulks up like William. Most comments on Alex say that he is more gritty and a better 2 way player than William…which could tranlate better to the NHL…so not a Prima Dona. We know he has a better shot which is scary because I just watched William in the Calder final fire a couple of lazers.

        Michael may be a helicopter dad, but people seem to underestimate that he is a perferct skills coach, and you can see that he has taken some questionable skill set of his boy, like Alex’s skating and made it a strength. Spending the summer with your skill coach can only be good from a development standpoint.

        • piscera.infada

          He is not big but definately not small, I don’t see why some would feel that he is a project who is 3-4 years away. at 5’11 and 190lbs he has more of an NHL body that most coming out of their draft year. He will likely end up playing at Crosby size 200lbs. If his size and weight are correct, why would he be so far from breaking into the NHL when a player like Tkachuk who appears to be similar size is close to breaking in next year?

          It’s not his size that makes him a project pick. It’s the fact that his skills/tools are raw. He’s playing against inferior competition as compared to the others at the top-end of the draft. That’s not a knock per say, but it is a concern.

          I think there has to be something special with the guy if Team Canada coaches continue to appoint him the leader in all International tournaments when representing his country.

          Many draft eligibles have been named captain of team Canada at the U18s. It doesn’t inherently say anything about their ability to play the sport, nor does it say anything about their ability to translate that comparatively to other players in the draft class. Again, if it’s about “the intangibles of being a leader”, then should that really factor in all that much? What about Mitchell Stephens last year? He was picked 33rd overall, should he have been inherently picked higher, because “captain”.

          If he has elite IQ, skating, passing, and scoring then there is not a lot of risk.

          If he has. Now, I’m not going to debate the fact that he might–as I’ve said, he’s a prospect that intrigues me. I like his potential, I really do. But much like Jankowski rag-dolling high school players in 2012, it’s tough to get a true read on where his skating, IQ, passing, and scoring matches up when he’s not doing it against men, or against the best junior-aged players in the world. Again, that’s not a knock on Jost, but it lends to uncertainty–an uncertainty that is likely unpalatable at sixth overall. Mid-first? Sure, but it’s likely not worth risking to trade down for. As I said earlier, it’s extremely rare that trading down in the first round pays the dividends that it should in theory.

          I will agree with you whole-heartedly about Nylander though. I feel many of the concerns are over-blown. Would/should we have pigeon-holed Max Domi during his draft year? I don’t seem to remember that being a big concern of people then. Frankly, Nylander has the skill, he’s not small, I don’t see the problem. If the biggest concern is “his dad’s effort was inconsistent”, it seems like a poor argument to me.

          • Burnward

            Kid just broke Connor McDavid’s scoring record.

            Sure I’ve been pumping his tires. And yes…those comparisons are more for fun than anything. But he’s pretty darn good.

            I saw something in the kid at the U-18’s that impressed the heck out of me. Got that fire.

            I’m not sure he’s a better prospect than Nylander, but his skills are filth.

          • Baalzamon

            Kid just broke Connor McDavid’s scoring record.

            McDavid set that record when he was two years younger than Jost is right now (Morgan Klimchuk was also on the team that year).

            One year, Ryan Murphy–a defenseman–posted 13 points in 7 games at the same tournament. He’s barely an NHLer right now (five years later).

            You just can’t use a seven game tournament as your main evidence for how good a player is. Better than using a one game sample (don’t even get me started on the Top Prospects Game) but not by a lot.

          • Burnward

            Was he older than every other Canadian U-18 player in history as well?

            I’m not suggesting he’s McDavid…but there is something there.

            He intrigues the heck out of me and if comes to him or Nylander, I would want my scouts to look hard at it.

          • Jumping Jack Flash

            You bring up some really good points. It is unfortunate, that he did not play in the CHL so that we could trulely measue him against other prospects but I respect the decision to play BCJHL so that he could play in the NCAA. That really only leaves him with the International stage to show how he can play against the best teenagers in the world.

            Going into the International tournaments like the Hlinka and U-18 WC knowing that this is the only stage you have to show scouts what you are capable of doing is a lot of pressure for a 17 year old kid….but he killed it.
            I agree that many draft eligibles are named captain, but they typically come with the hype of playing in the top league. I can’t think of many cases like this.

            A couple of the latest rankings have moved him up to #7 which means he could be right in our wheel house. Teams talk about drafting character. He has a chance to raise his stock in the interviews and combine.
            I think Nylander is a better talent and would be fun to watch, but I think Jost is a better fit without giving up much talent. The kid has a motor and intensity that is infectious.

        • Baalzamon

          I think there has to be something special with the guy if Team Canada coaches continue to appoint him the leader in all International tournaments when representing his country.

          Patrice Cormier was named captain of one of Canada’s best U20 entries ever. He’s also always been a completely irrelevant prospect, except to people who overvalue “intangibles”.

          • piscera.infada

            That’s besides the point. If the argument is “captaining team Canada at and international tournament means you are a better hockey player in some tangible way (than an individual who didn’t)”, wouldn’t one assume that previous captains prove that overwhelmingly?

            There is no inherent difference between captaining team Canada out of the BCJHL, the AJHL, the CHL, the NCAA, whatever.

          • Jumping Jack Flash

            I agree, that there is no inherent difference between captaining team Canada but the at the very least it could be argued that a player coming from a lesser league like BCJHL has far work to do just to get an invite to an International tournament…forget about captaining the team. I am sure his body of work with the National program has given him credibily, which support my view that they see something special.

          • Baalzamon

            Jost’s teammate Dante Fabbro was on that team too. Jost and Fabbro have been considered top fifteen talents in this draft since last year. Hockey Canada was already well aware they existed.

          • Jumping Jack Flash

            Oh I am aware of that. The only reason we are discussing Jost and (Fabbri to a certain degree) in the top 15 is because they played in the U-18WC and performed well. If they did not lose out in the BCJHL playoffs, I am not sure they have this stage available to help raise the stock.

          • Jumping Jack Flash

            So, you think their rankings would have stayed at that level if they did not play in the WC? Not a lot of players kept thei rankings from a year ago, Nylander is one example and Chychrun is another. IMO a strong showing in the WC helped them stay in the top half but not participating in the event likely would have bumped them down.

            A good example of the volatility of the ranking publications is Nylander. Like you said he was not ranked high a year ago, a good start to the OHL season and a strong WJC enhanced his stock. Then a poor last 10 games of the season was somewhat saved by a stellar Playoff (12 puts in 6 games). At this point he was clearly top 5-6. Now he is expected to go 7-9….despite a decent WC and playoffs. For some reason people do not want to allow themselves to like him.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I figured he would be coming up as a profiled player, but I am not sure he should be ranked as a long shot and profiled after the 2nd ledge players like Brown, Keller, and Juollovi and not with Debrincat and lower ranked players.