The end of the 2019-20 Ducks season was made official when the NHL announced its Return to Play Plan on May 26. Anaheim concluded the season with a 29-33-9 record and 67 points, having played 71 games until the regular season was paused March 12 and eventually deemed completed May 26 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over this offseason we're featuring a different Ducks player in numerical order in our annual player review series highlighting key stats and moments from the past season. You can find published pieces and a full schedule on this landing page.
After spending the majority of the 2018-19 campaign with AHL San Diego, rookie Sam Steel got promoted to full-time NHL duty this past season with the Ducks. The 22-year-old center appeared in 65 games with the big club, earning 22 points (6g/16a). He set career highs in points, assists, games and penalty minutes (20), and tied a personal best in goals.
Still in his early 20s but wise beyond his years, the mild-mannered Ardrossan, Alberta native paced Ducks rookies in goals, assists, points, power-play points (8, 1g/7a) and games. He was also dynamite in the faceoff circle. On a league level, Steel led NHL rookies in faceoff wins (369), faceoff win percentage (50.3%, minimum 400 faceoffs) and total draws (734). Additionally, Steel ranked tied for ninth among league rookies in games and tied for 10th in PPP.
Steel potted his first career game-winning goal in thrilling fashion on Jan. 17 at Carolina. It came in overtime, where he raced in on a partial breakaway and beat Hurricanes goaltender James Reimer blocker side. The goal sent the Ducks into their nine-day break (bye week + All-Star Weekend) on a high note.
Video: ANA@CAR: Steel buries game-winner on a breakaway
"[Carolina] broke up a good rush and had a 3-on-2," Steel said following the game. "I got caught there, but a great pass from Silvy (Jakob Silfverberg). Just tried to get it above the pad, and it went in."
With the regular season complete for all clubs, Steel was one of only seven rookies to score an overtime goal in 2019-20, joining players such as Kaapo Kakko (Rangers), Jack Hughes (New Jersey) and Quinn Hughes (Vancouver).
Steel's sixth and final goal of the season came on March 4 in a game against Colorado. His tally, a one-timer from the faceoff circle, broke a 2-2 tie with 7:12 remaining in the second period, a game the Ducks would win 4-3 in overtime.
Video: ANA@COL: Getzlaf, Steel connect to put Ducks ahead