The Toronto Maple Leafs have a signed college free agent forward out of Notre Dame, Alex Steeves, to a three-year entry-level contract, the club announced on Sunday.

Steeves was ranked by a number of the prominent scouting services in his draft year (2018) but went undrafted from 2018-2020:

  • 2018 NHL Entry Draft: Ranked #148 by ISS Hockey
  • 2018 NHL Entry Draft: Ranked #113 by FCHockey
  • 2018 NHL Entry Draft: Ranked #118 by McKeen’s Hockey
  • 2018 NHL Entry Draft: Ranked #86 by NHL Central Scouting

As a college junior in 2020-21, Steeves’ 32 points in 29 games ranked fourth in points-per-game in Big 10 scoring (1.10) behind three Wisconsin Badgers forwards: Cole Caufield (sophomore, Montreal’s 15th overall pick in 2019), Linus Weissbach (senior, Buffalo’s 192nd overall pick in 2017), and Dylan Holloway (sophomore, Edmonton’s 14th overall pick in 2020). This past season, Steeves was selected to phase one of the Hobey Baker Award’s fan ballot.

While the 21-year-old is no giant at 5’11, 185 pounds, in the scouting notes we’ve reviewed from some of his USHL and college games when he was a freshman, his willingness to play the body (or even drop the gloves to stick up for a teammate on one occasion) didn’t go unnoticed, nor did his commitment to the defensive and penalty-killing sides of the game. He was described as a competitive kid who played a mature game early on in his college career.

A skating weakness in his first few strides is noted as an area for improvement for the Leafs development staff to get to work on when he joins the Toronto Marlies next season (or perhaps earlier should an Amateur Tryout Agreement be in the cards, though the cross-border quarantine situation doesn’t easily lend itself to one):

Alex Steeves Scouting Notes

courtesy of the 2017-2019 Blackbooks

Dubuque Fighting Saints #21 C Steeves, Alex (2018) – Alex is a late 99’ birth date, but it was a fairly mature game from the Notre Dame Commit. Steeves played with a lot of jump and used his speed in transition to create off the rush. Delivered some big hits and was physical on the forecheck. Assisted on the game-tying goal by Kudla with a nice feed from behind the net to Kudla who was coming down the slot from the point.

Dubuque Fighting Saints, #21 C Steeves, Alex (2018) – Alex was able to do some good things with the puck in the offensive zone and can create off the cycle. Steeves played with a purpose and physical presence all night. He was willing to fight an older, bigger player in Cole Hults after Steeves attempted a questionable hit in the neutral zone in the first period. Liked his compete level and willingness to go to the hard areas. Steeves is providing some decent offense for a bottom-six role for DBQ and will be a player to track for the 2018 Draft.

Notre Dame — Alex Steeves (2019): After spending what seemed like forever in the USHL (three seasons), Steeves finished his freshman campaign with University of Notre Dame where he registered seven goals and two assists in 39 games, playing primarily a bottom-six role for the Irish. Steeves didn’t see much in the way of power-play time, which is an area of his game where he can be effective with the added time and space. Steeves has some offensive skill and can make plays, but he needs time and space to execute.

Steeves’ skating was the big red flag for scouts last year in his first draft-eligible year as a late ’99 birthdate. While he has added some strength in the last year, his skating hasn’t really taken the jump scouts were hoping. Steeves has a decent top gear when he gets going, but he needs the space to get there as his first couple strides is his major stopper at this point.

Steeves showed an improved defensive game in his freshman year, where his effort away from the puck was better than it was in the USHL, and he is willing to block shots and work on the penalty kill. His shot is an asset, but he didn’t get in enough situations to showcase it this season.

Since the time of those scouting reports, more offensive opportunity, including on the power play, and Steeves’ improvements in his shot and overall offensive game shined through in his next two seasons, as he led Notre Dame in points in 2019-20, led the team in both goals and points in 2020-21, and finished inside top five in the Big 10 in points scoring this past season.

Alex Steeves Statistics

2014-15 Manchester Jr. Monarchs 16UUSPHL 16U2817213834
 New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs 18UUSPHL 18U10110
2015-16 New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs 18UEJEPL 18U131452
 New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs 18UECEL 18U9661216
 Sioux City MusketeersUSHL39561116-14
 New Hampshire Jr. MonarchsEHL42460
2016-17 Dubuque Fighting SaintsUSHL536121833-3
2017-18 Dubuque Fighting SaintsUSHL55203757284
2018-19 Univ. of Notre DameNCAA3972910-1
2019-20 Univ. of Notre DameNCAA36111728106
2020-21 Univ. of Notre DameNCAA2915173282

Alex Steeves Scouting Report (Video)