Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bryce Van Brabant leaving Quinnipiac for Calgary Flames

Bryce Van Brabant, a bruising junior forward at Quinnipiac, will forgo his senior season to sign an NHL contract with the Calgary Flames, the Register has learned.  The deal is for the maximum allowable rookie salary under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

It will also send him directly to the NHL.

Calgary is at Ottawa Sunday evening, and Van Brabant will meet the club there. But his debut is expected to come later in the week. The Flames are at Toronto on Tuesday, at Tampa Bay on Thursday and at Carolina on Friday. Several teams showed heavy interest and at least one other club, the Chicago Blackhawks, was prepared to send Van Brabant directly to the NHL, according to sources.

Representatives from Calgary and Chicago were among those present at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport Friday night when Quinnipiac lost to Providence in the opener of the NCAA East Regional.

Van Brabant will become the first Quinnipiac alum to appear in an NHL game. Goaltender Eric Hartzell dressed for the Penguins shortly after signing last April but did not play. In Calgary, he joins Yale’s Kenny Agostino, a forward signed two weeks ago who also jumped straight from college to the NHL.

At the Frozen Four last April, Van Brabant, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound winger, caught the eye of NHL scouts. This summer, the native of Morinville, Alberta attended developmental camps in Edmonton and Calgary.  He impressed many in the Flames organization, including Brian Burke, the team’s general manager.

Several other NHL teams spent considerable time scouting Van Brabant this winter. Always a physical presence, it was his breakout offensive season that sparked frenzy amongst NHL personnel. He entered the season with nine career goals; his 15 this year ranked third on the Bobcats. He also led the team in penalty minutes.

Van Brabant’s departure means Quinnipiac loses five of its top eight scorers next season. Senior forwards Connor and Kellen Jones and Jordan Samuels-Thomas are expected to sign professional contracts soon. Kellen Jones (Edmonton) and Samuels-Thomas (Winnipeg) have previously been drafted. Connor Jones is expected to join his twin brother in the Oilers organization. Defenseman Zach Tolkinen (19 assists, 22 points) also graduates.

Forward Matthew Peca, whose NHL rights belong to Tampa Bay, stated earlier this winter he plans to return to Quinnipiac for his senior season.



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