The Buffalo Beauts have announced the signing of superstar forward Kelley Steadman. Steadman has inked a one-year deal with the team worth $15,000.
The only practice player to be named the NWHL’s player of the week twice, Steadman’s incredible offensive output was her hallmark in her first season. With 13 goals and seven assists in just 10 games, Steadman led the league in points per game (2.0), and goals per game (1.3), power play goals (5) and shorthanded goals (2).
She was one of eight Buffalo Beauts to represent the host city in the league’s inaugural All-Star Game, and a leader for the Beauts as they embarked on their storied playoff run, falling just short in the championship series.
As the offseason began, Today’s Slapshot reported on the importance of signing Steadman as a full-time player. On a team that suffered with scoring for much of the season, locking up the league’s most prolific scorer was absolutely a priority.
When approached about the signing, head coach and general manager Ric Seiling said, “You don’t always come across impact players like Kelley. That type of player can change the face of a game, as we have seen her do. We are excited that she has come back to Buffalo and can’t wait for the season to begin.”
Steadman is also excited about the reunion. “I really enjoyed the [last] season,” she said, “It was great to play for Ric and Shelley, and I’m glad to be playing for Ric again.
“I can’t wait for September,” she continued. “To get back on the ice at the HarborCenter and play for the city of Buffalo and the fans. I really connect with the culture there – the blue collar ethic of the city and the team.
“Over the course of the season, I think we were able to grow the crowds in Buffalo, and by the end of the season, the HarborCenter was pretty full. Buffalo is just such a huge hockey city and I can’t wait to get back out in front of the fans.”
Steadman also mentioned that one of the perks of staying in Buffalo is the proximity to Pittsburgh, where she worked as Director of Hockey Operations for Robert Morris University, and where she’ll be residing again this season. She spoke of her time as an administrator, as well as her coaching experience, and how it has changed her as a player.
“I’ve always been a hard working player, but at RMU, we spent so much time watching video, pinpointing breakdowns and evaluating players that I think it has made me a smarter player.”
She’s had a busy offseason, but now that she’s signed her first contract as a full-time professional hockey player, she’s planning on getting to work to train for another run at the Isobel Cup in 2016-17.
“We [Steadman and Brianne McLaughlin] just returned from a coaching conference in Florida. It was fun, and we finally got to relax a bit. We’re back in Pittsburgh now, and we’ll be hitting the gym pretty hard in the next month or so to get ready for next season.”
Twitter has exploded with the support of Buffalo’s fans, who are ecstatic to have the team’s leading scorer signed for the season. Steadman was a huge part of the Beauts’ special teams, contributing a third of their power play goals.
The team has already signed her linemate, Shelby Bram, for next year, and surely wants to bring back Meghan Duggan. Unrestricted free agency is set to end on July 31, but it seems that teams are working diligently to have their rosters set before this time.
Seiling has clearly become an aggressor in the free agent market, and his hard work is paying off as his team begins to take shape.