Young American-born Canadian ice hockey defenceman Nathan Staios was just 10 when his father Steve signed his last contract in the National Hockey League (NHL) as an unrestricted free agent in 2011. However, things were completely different when the 21-year-old signed a free agent contract himself with the Florida Panthers this summer.
Nathan’s contract became his entry into professional hockey after he was undrafted. This took place 31 years after his father was a second-round pick (No. 27) by the St. Louis Blues in the 1991 NHL Draft. Florida signed the young Staios on July 13 after he earned Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Defenseman of the Year honours with Hamilton last season.
“Really cool, obviously,” Nathan said, as quoted by NHL.com. “Yeah, I grew up watching it (free agency coverage) with my dad. He was a free agent a couple of times too. And then every year watching it, it’s a pretty cool feeling to be a part of.”
“I’ve had doubters my whole career”
The Georgia native Staios finished last season with 66 points (15 goals, 51 assists) in 59 games for Hamilton, which played in the Memorial Cup. He also played six games for the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League (AHL) towards the end of the 2020-21 season.
“Yeah, it was big,” Nathan said. “Obviously, I’ve had doubters my whole career, but I think I’ve done a good job of proving them wrong. So ever since I was a young kid in minor hockey, and then on my way to junior, and then obviously next year, I’m probably going to do the same thing. People can say what they want, but I’m just gonna play my game.”
“Wherever they want me, I’m good,” Staios said. “I’m good anywhere. I mean, I’m gonna work my hardest to make the big team, but after a couple of years of development in the AHL, I’m totally good with that. And I’m really looking forward to that as well.”