Steven Anthony hasn’t gotten many pats on the back the past two years, but he’s hoping for one Saturday.
The Halifax native — who once appeared destined for stardom — will put two long, difficult seasons with the Saint John Sea Dogs behind him if he hears his name called in the mid-to-late rounds of the NHL draft at Bell Centre in Montreal.
Anthony admittedly hasn’t lived up to somewhat lofty expectations in the QMJHL, struggling with his confidence under Sea Dogs bench boss Jacques Beaulieu — a coach with a hard-nosed reputation — who was fired in the off-season.
“He’s hard on some of his players … He didn’t give you positive feedback,” Anthony says. “As a young kid, you’ve never had that before from a coach. You’ve always had positive coaching. I took it personally and got down on myself and that’s my fault. But I’ve learned and become better for it.”
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.”
Anthony, it seems, recognizes his criticisms.
“Scouts see I’ve got talent and I can play,” Anthony says, “but it’s game-in and game-out, not getting down on myself and playing focused and positive every game.”
Talent alone might be enough to get Anthony drafted. And if the 18-year-old can learn from his past, the team that picks him could end up reaping the rewards in a few years.
“If I hadn’t gone through the past two years, I probably wouldn’t feel as prepared to make the next step as I am today,” Anthony says. “Everything in the past is in the past.”
Central Scouting director E.J. McGuire analyzes local NHL draft prospects. They are listed with position, QMJHL team, hometown (if from Nova Scotia) and CS ranking.
• G OLIVIER ROY, Cape Breton (second): “He’s on the small side, but what he lacks in size he makes up with his quickness and athletic ability. He’s a good goalie.”
• G GABRIEL O’CONNOR, Halifax (180th): Recently traded but “makes a good first pass and few mistakes. He’s a stay-at-home defenceman who plays with an edge.”
• F MATT BROWN, Moncton (Bible Hill, 193rd): “He was injured last year (torn MCL) but he plays with confidence and energy and he’s always a threat to score.”
• F BRANDON MacLEAN, P.E.I. (Bedford, 186th): Low-scoring power-forward type is at his best when “he’s taking hits to make plays and going out of his way to forecheck.”