By CHRIS FITZ GERALD
Its been a whirlwind of a week for Kyle Flanagan and its not over yet.
Barely three days after the Canton natives college hockey career with St. Lawrence University ended, Flanagan turned professional as he signed a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
Now the talented forward, who is both a candidate for All-American status as well as the prestigious Hobey Baker Award, is preparing to join the Flyers American Hockey League affiliate in Glens Falls.
Its a dream come true, Flanagan said of signing with Philadelphia. Its something Ive worked for even before I got here each summer I trained and worked hard and hoped that it would pay off. Im very proud that it has and I couldnt have done it without my parents, family and friends as well as the coaching staff and my teammates.
Flanagan had hoped the Saints season would have continued on at least through this weekend, but St. Lawrence was swept by Yale in an ECAC Hockey quarterfinal series last Saturday in New Haven, Conn.
Its been quite a busy last 24 hours, thats for sure, as well as the last few days, Flanagan said Wednesday. Obviously its bittersweet because we lost and I wasnt expecting that I thought I would be practicing with the guys tonight and looking forward to going to Atlantic City [for the ECAC Hockey semifinals]. ... It really hasnt hit me yet fully, but its been a very exciting last couple days.
Flanagan had been contacted by several NHL teams, but after he received an offer from Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon, it didnt take long to make his decision later that night.
The reason I chose Philly was I thought it was the best opportunity for me to play in the NHL next year, said Flanagan, who received offers from four other NHL teams. I feel comfortable about it I talked to the people that I know and trust in the hockey world it all came together and it felt right.
Flanagan signed a two-way contract with the Flyers for next season. He also signed an amateur tryout agreement with the Adirondack Phantoms and hopes to join the AHL team as early as Friday.
The news was no surprise to St. Lawrence head coach Greg Carvel, who has said he believed he would see Flanagan play in the NHL one day.
Im very happy for Kyle I think hes got a great opportunity to play at the next level, Carvel said of the 24-year-old, who completed his second season as St. Lawrences team captain. Im not surprised Philadelphia was at probably the majority of our games this year, they showed the most interest in him and I think theres an opportunity for him there.
Flanagan, who was approached by Philadelphia management after St. Lawrences loss to Yale on Saturday night, feels the Flyers organization is the best fit for his style of play and potential.
I love their identity, theyre a hard-nosed team, said Flanagan, who is listed a 5-foot-9, 170 pounds. Im a smaller guy, but I dont like to get pushed around. Theyre always tough to play against and its a great atmosphere there. They said theyre looking for some skill and hopefully I can provide that. But at the same time, youve got to work hard and play physical as well.
With Adirondack, Flanagan hopes to be reunited with an old teammate center Ian Slater whom he skated with in junior hockey with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders of the USHL.
Its a business and there are going to be a lot of other kids where Im going who are going to be playing for the same spot, Flanagan said. I just feel its the best opportunity for me.
Hell play in the AHL for Philadelphias farm club the rest of this year, Carvel said of Flanagan. I think it will be good for his development. Im sure hell have a real good shot at training camp next fall to try and make the lineup in Philadelphia.
Flanagan missed the last weekend of the regular season after he underwent an appendectomy on Feb. 26 and returned to the lineup just 11 days after he underwent the procedure to lead St. Lawrence to a first-round playoff sweep of Colgate.
Its a huge step, but hes a kid who deserves it, Carvel said of Flanagan, who finished with 147 career points, including 46 goals and 101 assists at the school and is just the seventh Saints player to record at least 100 career assists. His work habits are impeccable and his skill level is impressive. Hes got heart and hes got courage. I think when they talk about the history of St. Lawrence, Kyle will be one of the all-time best forwards to ever come through here.