For Sam Anas, a lifelong dream became reality in the form of an email. Last Monday, the Potomac native opened his inbox to find a contract offer from the Minnesota Wild. On Friday, he announced he will forgo his final year of eligibility with the Quinnipiac University ice hockey team to become a professional.
Anas's deal is a two-year, two-way, entry-level contract. If he doesn't make the Wild's NHL roster in training camp this summer, he will play for the organization's American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Wild.
"I understand that I'll most likely have to prove myself in the AHL first. I embrace the challenge to earn my spot. Wherever I go, I'm going to put up points," Anas said. "They're looking for goal scorers. Down the road, they want me to be somebody to help score goals, and I like scoring goals."
Anas is looking to become the first player to play for and graduate from a Washington area high school to make the NHL. But for the 2011 Landon graduate, simply making the roster won't be enough.
"My dream growing up wasn't just to be a pro hockey player, it was to be an NHL player," Anas said. "I don't just want to play 10 games in the NHL, I want to make a full-time career."
Anas stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 170 pounds. According to sportingcharts.com, there were 27 players in the NHL last season who were 5-foot-8 or shorter. As a forward, Anas makes up for his lack of size with impeccable composure with the puck on his stick.
Anas, the 2011 All-Met Player of the Year, embraces the challenge of transitioning from competing against college defenses to the men in the NHL.
"Anytime you jump from college to professional in any sport, it's going to be challenging. You'll be playing against stronger guys. You're playing against men fighting for their families out there," Anas said. "You could be competing to take somebody's spot who is 32 and has two kids and a wife."
Anas will graduate from Quinnipiac in May. He led the Bobcats in scoring in all three of his seasons, tallying 69 goals and 63 assists in 121 games. This winter, he had his most productive season with 50 points as Quinnipiac held the No. 1 ranking for most of the year and fell in the national title game to North Dakota, 5-1.
Anas will spend the summer improving his speed and strength in preparation for his potential future as a pro in the hockey-crazy North Star State.
"Hockey is everything in Minnesota, the Wild are worshiped," Anas said. "I don't know if it has really hit me yet. It's weird to think that I'm a professional athlete. It's all I've wanted for 22 years."