Steven Anthony has the size and skill teams are looking for in an NHL regular, but there are skeptics who question his commitment level and consistency. Despite great expectations, Steven Anthony had difficulty adjusting to the CHL, and bristled under the stern tutelage of former SeaDogs coach Jacque Bealieu in his first few seasons. He has talked openly about "losing confidence" in the early stages of his QMJHL career, and despite his tantalizing skillset – he slipped to the seventh round of the NHL draft.
Despite some of these red-flags, the Canucks made a late trade on the second day of the 2009 draft to acquire the pick they used to select Steven Anthony (the 7th rounder was acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Shaun Heska) – so clearly they saw something there. And why not? Based on his natural gifts alone, Steven Anthony is a legitimate NHL prospect:
The six-foot-two, 190-pound centre’s offensive gifts have never been questioned. He was a scoring sensation with the Dartmouth Subways and his talent had him ranked by some scouts as the No. 1 prospect for the 2007 QMJHL draft.
But his mercurial competitive level has been a bone of contention with scouts for many years, even when he broke out in the second half last season with 30 points in the final 29 games. In 93 previous games, he had only produced 32 points.
“If he more consistently played his best game, he’d be in the top echelon of the draft,” says Central Scouting director E.J. McGuire, who ranks Anthony 184th among North Americans. “We’d be talking about him as a first-rounder.”
After being drafted, Anthony regressed again in 2009-2010, and It’s possible that he wouldn’t have been signed to an entry level contract by the Canucks had he not produced at a point-per game rate this past season. Anthony is more of a play-maker than a shooter, and despite possessing good-size he is not a fighter (his hockeyfights.com profile is uninspiring). If we believe the whispers about his lack of "competitiveness" – he may not be well-suited to a fourth line role. Because of this lack of versatility, as well as his youth, Anthony may find himself hard-pressed to stick with the Chicago Wolves this upcoming season.
Here are Anthony’s QMJHL stats over the past four seasons. I’ve also translated his production to demonstrate his expected AHL/NHL output based on Gabe Desjardin’s equivalency numbers (AHL/NHL equivalency numbers are pro-rated over 82 games):
|Steven Anthony’s QMJHL Production/AHL and NHL Equivalency|
|Year||GP||G||A||Pts||Eq. AHL G||Eq. AHL A||Eq. AHL Pts||Eq. NHL Pts|
Though it looks like Steven Anthony took a big step forward last season, some of this is team effects. In terms of his contributions to his team’s overall offense – Anthony’s best season was 2008-09 (his draft year). Last year, the Sea Dogs were a brilliant team. They scored 324 goals and dominated the regular season and the QMJHL playoffs, before stomping over everyone at the Memorial Cup. The team included a top 5 pick, two other first rounders, highly touted second rounder Tomas Jurco, and also Stanislav Galiev – a wonderfully skilled Caps prospect. If we look at Anthony’s production in terms of a percentage of total team output, he factored in on 18.5% of his team’s goals this season, up from 13.2% in 2009-10, but down from the 21.6% he posted in 2008-09 when the SeaDogs were a middling team (managing only 222 goals in the regular season.)
What the Canucks have in Anthony is anyone’s guess. Though he is a talented young man (1991 birthday) who still looks promising because of his size, speed and skill, there are lingering concerns about his lack of commitment, physicality and consistency. Anthony is probably best described as a fringe NHL prospect. Though he could well earn himself a roster spot with the Wolves on the strength of a good showing at camp this September, it also wouldn’t be a surprise to see him start next season in the ECHL.