Friday kicks off round 1 of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo, New York.
It is safe to assume two Regina Pats will have their names called over the two days of selection, Sam Steel and Adam Brooks.
Two very different journeys led up to this week but it is an exciting time for both of these players and their families.
Steel has been synonymous with the NHL since we first heard about him in Regina three years ago. He is ranked 30th in North America in the final list from the NHL’s Central Scouting Service and Steel says he got better as his draft year went on. “I thought overall it was not bad. I had a slower start, didn’t play the way I wanted to off the start of the year but I thought as the year went on I started playing better and better hockey. In the last few months of the year, especially playoffs, it’s my favorite time of year and I played my best hockey at that point.”
“It’s definitely an exciting time. I hope to hear my name, called and wherever I go it’s a whole new journey after that. I’m excited to get things going I guess and we will see what the future holds.” Steel said. “Being from just outside Edmonton I have always gone to those games and cheered for them so I would say they are my favorite team but when it comes to the draft I’m definitely not picky and would be honoured to go anywhere.”
While Steel has always been a lock to hear his name called this weekend, the same is not true for Adam Brooks who just completed his 19-year-old season and is headed into his final eligibility for the NHL Draft. Brooks was not on the radar of the NHL in his draft year two years ago but it seems the third time will be the charm for the Winnipeg product. It’s been well documented his season, leading the WHL in scoring with 120 points.
Despite his dominance in the WHL this year, Brooks remains even keeled looking at what might come. “Excited, I mean obviously I’m not getting to far ahead of myself because I know what it’s like to be passed over but just excited for the opportunity. I have one last crack at potentially being drafted and thought I had a year to put me in a position to maybe be selected.”
Brooks is ranked 72nd by CSS and has visited with the Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres in person and has had numerous online talks with other NHL teams in the weeks and months leading up to the draft. “Yeah I guess there is some talk. Everyone heading into the drat has probably talked to a few teams and that is a part of the process. For me the whole ride of this and getting to experience this which I wasn’t able to experience in the last two years and talking to teams and getting to go down to some pre-draft camps and stuff like that it’s just been enjoyable for me. I’m just having some fun with it and hopefully everything works out.”
“The last four years have been just a roller coaster.” Brooks added. “I think it will mean a lot not only to me to a lot of people who have stuck by me, especially through the times that things were going pretty bad. There were a lot of people that stood by my side throughout that and were there to pick me up when things weren’t going so well. For me it’s an exciting time and I think for some other people it’s an exciting time as well and whatever happens happens. It’s all positive, this whole season and this whole off-season have been a positive for me and whether I am drafted on Saturday or whether I am not I will continue to work hard and hopefully continue to have some positives come my way.”