The Minnesota Wild have signed Quinnipiac junior Sam Anas, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. The un-drafted 22-year-old has inked a two-year, entry-level contract.
Anas was the leading scorer for Quinnipipac, who entered the NCAA tournament as the nation’s No. 1 ranked team. They ultimately lost in the NCAA championship to the North Dakota Fighting Hawks.
Anas soldiered through the tournament with an injured shoulder. He scored some key goals early in the tournament, but was hobbled by the injury by the time the championship came around. He played well in the national championship, but after taking a few shots to the shoulder he saw his impact reduced.
The under-sized forward finished his junior year with 50 points in 43 games, leading the ECAC in scoring and ranking 10th overall in all of college hockey.
Extremely honored to announce that I have signed an NHL contract with the @mnwild and proud that I will earn my degree this spring as well
— Sam Anas (@samanas7) April 15, 2016
At 5-foot-8,the major knock on his game has been his size. But for the Wild, giving Anas a contract makes a lot of sense. The team is in desperate need of goal-scoring prowess, and a gamble on Anas is a good one to take.
He’s a tenacious skater who has good hands and impressive hockey sense. Importantly for the Wild, who have a lot of playmakers, Anas is a goal-scorer with a good nose for the net.
“His best trait is his composure with the puck — there’s no panic in his game. He’s so poised with the puck on his stick. He has that ability to wait and wait,” coach Rand Pecknold said of Anas back in January.
That filthy goal from Sam Anas in widescreen, the chip pass off the boards springs him pic.twitter.com/4UIuXFVJAY
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) March 28, 2016
Improvement in Iowa
He joins 2014 1st round draft pick Alex Tuch, 2012 4th round draft pick Adam Gilmour, 2011 2nd round pick Mario Lucia, and 2011 5th round pick Nick Seeler on the Wild. All of them are players coming out of college hockey to join the team on contracts that will start with the 2016-17 season.
The AHL’s Iowa Wild are poised to have their third straight season at the bottom of the AHL. This infusion of talent could help the Wild’s farm club to look a little more robust next year.
They took steps toward that this year. Tyler Graovac played well when he was healthy (which wasn’t all that often). Defenseman Gustav Olofsson played most of the season, giving him his first full professional year. He joined Mike Reilly as a rookie defenseman spending the majority of the season in the American League.
Zack Mitchell lead the team in both goals (21) and points (41) in his second professional season. Mitchell is just the second player in Iowa history to cross 20 goals, following Graovac last season.. The next two leading scorers were rookies Grayson Downing and Christoph Bertschy. Downing has just recently returned from injury and a goal in one of the team’s final two games this weekend would give him 20 as well.
Iowa also ran out Dylan Labbe and Zach Palmquist, who were in their rookie seasons.
There’s some hope that the Wild’s prospect pool in Iowa is going to start seeing returns. The pool remains somewhat the same, but having a lot of their NCAA prospects turn pro will see the group start to bear fruit at the professional level. An infusion of talent like Anas should help as well.
The loss of Anas is significant for Quinnipiac, who, it was also revealed Friday, will lose top defenseman Devon Toews. A 2014 New York Islanders draft pick, Toews finished his junior season this year.
The Quinnipiac program has taken massive strives forward in recent years under the leadership of Coach Pecknold. They have made the NCAA tournament four straight years, and made it to the championship game twice.
They were also ECAC regular season champions and won the ECAC tournament for the first time in school history.
There was no doubt some expectation that they could suffer some losses like this. The team will rely on players like Tim Clifton and Connor Clifton to carry the team forward next season. Both of them have confirmed to the school on Friday that they will return next season despite having NHL offers on the table.
Tim and Connor Clifton have informed Quinnipiac coaching staff they will return for their senior seasons. Both had standing NHL offers.
— Chip Malafronte (@ChipMalafronte) April 15, 2016
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.