NOW THE proud owner of a sparkling national championship ring with little left to accomplish at the collegiate level, the lure of the NHL was just too big for Shayne Gostisbehere to ignore.
Gostisbehere, the Flyers' 2012 third-round pick, agreed to terms yesterday on a 3-year, entry-level deal just 3 days removed from helping Union College win its first NCAA crown, on Wells Fargo Center ice.
He was named the Frozen Four's most outstanding player after finishing with one goal, four assists over the two games. The star defenseman was a plus-7, on the ice for all seven Union goals and none against, in the 7-4 win over Minnesota in the title game.
"What happened in Philly was a moment I'll never forget with my teammates, it was a special moment," Gostisbehere said in a conference call. "I don't know that I'd say [winning it all] pushed me [to sign]. I sat down with my folks and we decided what was best for my development."
Gostisbehere is not eligible to appear in the Stanley Cup playoffs since his contract does not begin until the fall.
According to a source, Gostisbehere will earn the entry-level max salary ($925,000) for each of his first three seasons in the NHL. He also can earn an additional $212,500 in 2014-15 and $637,500 in 2015-16 and 2016-17 in attainable performance-based bonuses.
"Not far-fetched," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said when asked if Gostisbehere could be in the NHL next season. "He's an exciting young player, the way he plays the game."
Gostisbehere, who will turn 21 on Sunday, will forgo his senior season at Union when he reports to the AHL's Phantoms on Thursday on an amateur tryout contract. He will play the last three games on the Phantoms' schedule before heading down with a group of practice players - known as "Black Aces" - to travel and skate with the Flyers during the remainder of the playoffs.
"I think it's good that Shayne is going to play a couple games on the weekend with the Phantoms to give him a little taste of the pro game," Holmgren said. "Every little bit helps for those guys - whether it be junior or college hockey. So that's huge."
When he's with the Flyers next week, Gostisbehere said he will soak in every practice, watching and learning from the veterans.
"It's a dream come true to skate with the Flyers," Gostisbehere said. "If [the NHL] is the next step, that's awesome. I haven't even played in a professional game yet. Whatever they want me to do, I'm all ears. I'm just happy to be in the situation."
Gostisbehere credited Union coach Rick Bennett for his development, not trying to change his offensive gift and utilizing his speed to play defense with an active stick and positioning. The Flyers want him to add weight to his 172-pound frame, but Holmgren cautioned against any huge gain.
"It's going to be a big summer for him to continue to get stronger and to prepare himself for the rigors of the 82-game schedule," Holmgren said. "But you don't want to load down your Ferrari."