Just days after leaving St. Lawrence University following an impact freshman season, Matt Carey made his choice to join the professional ranks official on Thursday by signing with the Chicago Blackhawks.
And not only is the 22-year-old centerman joining the Blackhawks organization, in baseball parlance, hes already headed to The Show.
Carey, who signed a two-year contract, will report to the National Hockey League team today.
I didnt expect it all, Carey said of his immediate promotion to the NHL club. But Im looking forward to stepping into the lineup, and this is probably the most exciting time of my life.
Matt Carey plans to catch a flight from Syracuse to Chicago today and be in attendance as a spectator at the Blackhawks game against Carolina tonight. Then hell report to team practice on Saturday.
Its been quite a week for the Carey family as earlier in the day, older brother Greg, was named as a Hobey Baker Award top 10 finalist a day after he signed an entry-level contract with the Phoenix Coyotes.
By mid-afternoon, Matt Carey, who finished as St. Lawrence leading goal-scorer along with Greg Carey with 18 goals each, made Chicago his choice.
The younger Carey drew attention from several other NHL teams, including the New York Rangers, Minnesota, Ottawa and Philadelphia, with the Rangers and Wild among his final three options.
Im excited because Ill have a chance to play with one of the best captains in the world in Jonathan Toews, said Matt Carey, a native of Hamilton, Ontario. I think hes going to be a role model for me, and I think hes role model for the entire team.
Now he hopes to make an impact with the Blackhawks, who on Wednesday lost leading scorer Patrick Kane to injury, possibly for up to three weeks.
I really like the way they play and the focus they have as far as being a puck-possession type of team, Matt Carey said.
Carey, who ranks third in the nation among first-year players in goals, points (37) and is fourth in points per game (0.97) as well as fourth in ECAC Hockey in goal-scoring, decided to leave St. Lawrence two days after the Saints were ousted from the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals.
That was probably one of the toughest decisions in my life with respect to giving up an education, he said.
The departure of Matt Carey certainly changes the Saints offensive dynamic. He skated on the teams top line for much of the season, finishing second in points production.
Its always a consideration when a player who produces for you leaves, Saints head coach Greg Carvel said.
HOBEY BAKER FINALIST
Greg Carey, who completed his senior season, garnered Hobey Baker Award finalist honors for the second consecutive season after he achieved this honor last year as a junior along with senior teammate Kyle Flanagan.
He is the first St. Lawrence player to be selected as a top 10 finalist for college hockeys prestigious award for the second time.
Im proud of myself and Im proud of Matt, Carey said on Thursday evening, just after he arrived in Maine, where hell report to the Portland Pirates of the AHL. Being able to sign and play pro hockey is a dream come true for the both of us and being named a Hobey Baker finalist again is a honor and a privilege.
Carey, who currently leads the nation in assists (39) and is third in points (57), is the first collegiate player since to lead the nation in goals (28) as a junior and top the country in assists as a senior.
Its not fun to end your season early, said Greg Carey, also a finalist for both ECAC Hockeys player and student-athlete of the year awards. But Im also excited for my teammates and coaches who have helped me along the way.
With 185 career points, Greg Carey tied Brian McFarlane (1951-55) on the schools all-time scoring list. Carey is also fourth in career goals (84) at the school.
Its well deserved, Carvel said of Greg Carey. Hes been a real dominant player in our league and across the country.
ECAC HOCKEY AWARDS
Greg Carey was named to ECAC Hockeys all-conference first team, while teammate and freshman defenseman Gavin Bayreuther made the second team.
Bayreuther and Matt Carey were also both selected to the leagues all-rookie team.
The conferences player of the year will be announced today at the ECAC Hockey semifinals in Lake Placid.