Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gostisbehere leaves Union, signs entry-level deal with Flyers

You could suppose it was inevitable, that once Shayne Gostisbehere achieved the goal of winning the national championship, there was nothing left for him to accomplish on ice at Union College.

And you'd be wrong. So was I.

"People would think I'm leaving because there's nothing left to prove, but it's not that at all. I sat down with my family after, and it came down to where my development would be to get better and go to the next level and now seemed like the right time," Gostisbehere said at his on-campus press conference.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Philadelphia Flyers announced the signing of the dynamic 20-year-old blueliner to an entry-level contract. He is expected to join the Adirondack Phantoms for the final weekend of the regular season on an ATO.

"It's definitely a dream come true. I always thought I had a chance, and it's definitely an honor, and I'd like to thank my parents and the entire coaching staff for where my game is today," Gostisbehere offered. "(I did it) just to keep my focus with my team and my teammates for my sake and mine. I knew there was going to be a lot of attention there, because the Frozen Four was in Philly, but my main focus was what I could do for Union College Hockey and I think we did a great job with that."

Understatement of the year, right there.  

Gostisbehere capped a memorable junior campaign with a goal, two assists and plus-7 rating as the No. 1 Dutchmen took down #2 Minnesota by a 7-4 count in Saturday's title game in Philadelphia. That effort solidified his selection as tourney MVP.

He accrued career-bests of nine goals, 25 assists and 34 points over 42 games for the small program from Schenectady, NY which stormed through the ECAC regular-season and playoff championships, then beat Providence, Boston College and the Golden Gophers. The native of Florida leaves the Capital District with 22 goals and 82 points over 119 collegiate appearances.

The signing comes less than a day since teammate and outgoing senior team captain Mat Bodie inked an ELC with the rival New York Rangers.

"It was tough; definitely some tears involved," was all Gostisbehere would say when pressed as to how tough the decision to leave had been.

Despite the hype from certain quarters, Gostisbehere, at 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, needs time in the American Hockey League -- and one weekend just won't cut it.

The young man needs to work on his footing and his lower-body strength, and that's only going to come by going up against competition one level up from D-I. It should be expected that Gostisbehere begins next season in Lehigh Valley but should not be promoted, even through injury problems, until at least the start of the 2015-16 campaign.

Philadelphia went through this with James van Riemsdyk, pulling him into the NHL after a seven-game stint with the Phantoms once he left New Hampshire -- but the stakes were a bit higher then as JVR was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft, while Gostisbehere was a third-round choice in 2012.

My suspicions from earlier in the season that a selling point with Gostisbehere to move on so quickly was that Glens Falls is only 45 miles from his campus proved to be correct. It was pretty much a fait accompli that the organization would use that as an enticement no matter how far Union advanced in the NCAA tournament.

On Friday night, when the Phantoms welcome the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to the Glens Falls Civic Center, it will bring the curtain down on the club's tenure in the city and raise the curtain on Gostisbehere's professional career.

"It's really cool. All the guys are coming up. It's definitely cool that it's close to home. It's good to get my foot in the door there, meet some people, and have fun."

Check out the full presser below:
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