Taylor Chorney and the Edmonton Oilers have done everything but put pen to paper on a new contract, but he will be signing a deal and will be in training camp this fall.
"We're pretty exicted to have him," said GM Kevin Lowe, who's agreed in principle to an entry level deal for their University of North Dakota defenceman. "He looks like he's built for the new game. Time will tell how much time he needs to get ready for the NHL, but he's got a real confident personality and a great skill level."
Chorney, Edmonton's second-round pick (36th overall) in the 2005 draft, is thrilled to be going pro.
"I think moreso than anything, I can completely change my focus from being uncertain where I was going to be next year to now I can focus 100% on preparing myself for training camp," said the 21 year old. "It's my job now. That's pretty cool to say, that playing hockey is my job. That's every kid's dream growing up who plays hockey."
One of his first calls was to his coach, now his ex-coach, at North Dakota, who's losing one of his best players.
"Our coach was real professional about it," said Chorney. "He pretty much told me it was the right thing for me to do, to turn pro. He thought that physically and mentally I was ready to make the jump."
There aren't exactly a lot of spots open on Edmonton's blue-line, and defencemen almost never make the league straight out of college or junior, but Chorney isn't giving up on the NHL this season.
"I understand the majority of players start out in the minors," he said. "But I'm going to go in there and work my butt off to earn a spot on the Edmonton Oilers, and until somebody tells me I'm going to Springfield, that will be my focus. But from the get go I'm going to be trying to make the team."
His immediate goal is to improve his strength and stamina now that he'll be lining up against pros instead of college kids.
"I'll amp up my training a bit and take things more seriously because now I know that conditioning and getting bigger and stronger is going to be that much more important playing against men. Whether I'm in Edmonton or Springfield, either way I'm going to be playing against men. I have to make sure my body is ready for the grind."