Bolland, 'Hawks agree on deal

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

The Chicago Blackhawks have finally shown David Bolland the bucks.

The London Knights forward, who finished second in OHL scoring behind teammate Rob Schremp, inked a three-year contract yesterday with the NHL club, which had selected him in the second round of the 2004 entry draft.

"There's a lot of paperwork (but) it's nice to have some money," the 19-year-old Mimico native said. "It's nice to get it out of the way instead of waiting and waiting. It feels like making the NHL is real now."

Bolland, a 2005 Memorial Cup champion with the Knights and a 2006 world junior gold medallist for Canada, was in Toronto yesterday with agent Anton Thun to close the deal.

Though terms were not disclosed, NHL clubs can sign 2004 draftees to a maximum annual salary of $984,200 (money exclusively reserved for the top few picks) and a signing bonus not more than 30 per cent of that amount.

The slick six-foot, 174-pound skater is joining an organization with a stockpile of young talent on the Chicago roster and its American Hockey League affiliate Norfolk Admirals.

"It's not going to be easy but I'm looking forward to it," Bolland said. "I know I have to bulk up. It's like a new beginning for me."

The Knights' first pick (eighth overall) in the 2002 OHL draft, Bolland finished his four-year career in London with 135 goals and 299 points in 254 games. This season, he tied Schremp for the OHL goals title with 57 and had 130 points in 59 games.

"When I first came to London, you went to the Ice House and there was nothing (going on)," Bolland said. "But when we moved into the John Labatt Centre, there was a lot more attention. People would see you and come up and ask for an autograph and want to talk. It was a nice feeling.

"Going to Chicago, it might be, 'Who are you?' "

Bolland deemed London's season a success even after the Knights were swept from the OHL final by Memorial Cup-bound Peterborough.

"I thought we did well this year -- we just didn't get a bounce against the Petes," he said. "Nobody expected us to do much. We were a surprise."

Bolland scored eight times in a first-round playoff sweep over Sault Ste. Marie but he couldn't keep up that torrid pace the rest of the way, especially after sitting out four games for kicking Owen Sound's Mike Angelidis in the second round. "It was tough coming back after that suspension," he said.


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