A multi-positional player and the OHL’s reigning Humanitarian of the Year, native son Nicholas Canade did a little bit of everything for the Mississauga Steelheads in 2018-19.
Originally the club’s 11th round pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection, Canade worked his way onto the roster to begin the 2017-18 season and joined overage captain Cole Carter in the club’s leadership group this past season.
The 5-foot-9, 160Ib. spark plug transitioned back to the blue line in the second half of the season, proving valuable as the Fish dealt with a rash of injuries. His play on the back end was so solid that he remained back there through the end of the playoffs and earned an invitation to the New Jersey Devils’ Development Camp.
“I’ve always thought about it. I grew up playing a little bit of defence in minor hockey and thought I was pretty good back there,” said Canade. “We were on the road in North Bay and I had been playing the point on the power play and my skating was pretty good back there. We had a few injuries and I just fit in. I started playing over 20 minutes a night and really enjoyed it.”
Canade was joined in New Jersey by former Steelheads teammates Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian, both former Devils draft picks. The two older players helped Canade get his feet wet in an NHL environment as he went to score a pair of big goals throughout the course of the week.
“Mikey and Bas were both down there so I spent a lot of time with them and kind of shadowed them and learned the ropes,” he recalled. “They did a great job. The Steelheads produce a bunch of character guys and they both wanted to help me out there and that really helped the experience and made it easier.”
Whether it’s on the ice or in the community, Canade is a valued member of the franchise. Steelheads head coach and general manager praised him for his work this past season.
“He’s a well-respected player in our dressing room and around the league,” said Richmond. “He plays with a tremendous amount of energy and speed that we believe epitomizes what the Steelheads are about. He is a wonderful young man. His work ethic on and off the ice is second to none.”
Among his many off-ice accomplishments this season, Canade spearheaded a $6,000 donation to the Canadian Cancer Society in conjunction with the club’s 7th annual Pink in the Rink campaign. He was a constant presence in Steelheads community visits at schools and hospitals, becoming the club’s first ever recipient of the OHL’s Dan Snyder Memorial Award.
“I grew up as a Mississauga boy watching the Majors and the Steelheads, so the opportunity to give back to a community that has invested a lot in me is one I meet with a lot of enthusiasm,” Canade said of the honour. “I enjoyed being out there, I enjoyed the process and seeing the smiles on kids faces. Receiving the Dan Snyder Award is representative of who we are as a family and it’s who we are as a hockey team.
“Character goes a long way and I really believe that.”
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