Speedy senior center Mike Vecchione, arguably the best player in college hockey this season, could soon be joining the Flyers organization as a free agent.
At least that’s the hope of his former Union College teammate, Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.
Gostisbehere texted him after Union recently defeated Princeton and told him to “keep the dream going."
"I’m sure we’ll talk more as time goes on," Gostisbehere said, "but I don’t really want to bother his focus right now. He’s got some big things on his plate that he’s got to finish up.”
Union will play Friday in the ECAC Hockey semifinals against Cornell.
Vecchione, 24, can’t sign until Union completes its season. He spent two years in the USHL before attending Union.
When Union’s season ends, Gostisbehere will try to sell him on signing with the Flyers. In 2014, Vecchione , then a high-scoring freshman, and Gostisbehere were on the Union team that won the NCAA national championship.
“I’m pretty sure he was close to coming here last year,” said Gostisbehere, mindful that Vecchione attended the Flyers’ developmental camp last summer. “I can be the best salesman I can, but it’s ultimately up to him. I’m going to tell him how it is here, obviously, but it’s going to be up to him and what’s the best fit for him.”
Vecchione, who leads Union with 29 goals and 62 points and is the leading scorer in the school’s history (171 points), is one of the leading candidates to win the Hobey Baker award, given to college hockey’s best player. Vecchione and Union teammate Spencer Foo, a junior winger, were among the 10 Hobey Baker finalists named Wednesday.
Last season, Jimmy Vesey won the Hobey Baker and signed with the New York Rangers. He has 14 goals and 24 points this season.
Other recent Hobey Baker winners: Jack Eichel in 2015, and Johnny Gaudreau in 2014. Both are now NHL stars.
“If you look up the definition of Hobey Baker, I think Vecs fits that mold perfectly. He’s stayed all four years, and he’s been a great role model,” Gostisbehere said. “He ‘s been a captain, and he’s a very humble kid.”
Gostisbehere’s scouting report on the 5-foot-10, 195-pound Vecchione: “He’s a great two-way player. Very fast. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s got a ton of heart. I mean, he’ll do anything for the team. He can play any role possible. He can be a first-line guy and he can be a fourth-line guy, too. He’s really good in the faceoff dot. ... He’s just a great player and a better person, too.”
Vecchione, a Massachusetts native, leads the nation in points per game (1.71), game-winning goals (seven), and overtime goals (three). He is second in faceoff percentage (.557) and tied for second in shorthanded goals (four).
Breakaways. Steve Mason will face the Penguins’ Matt Murray on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. ... Jordan Weal will miss the game with an undisclosed injury. ... Dale Weise will return to the lineup. ... The Flyers are juggling their slumping power play. Jake Voracek will drop to the second unit, and Ivan Provorov will be on the top unit. ... At the morning skate, Nick Cousins played left wing on the top line.