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PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers signed sought-after college center Mike Vecchione to one-year entry-level contract on Friday.
General manager Ron Hextall said Vecchione would play for the team this season but added that the 24-year-old's NHL debut probably wouldn't come Saturday against the New Jersey Devils.
"We're excited about it," Hextall said. "We identified a couple of guys, college free agents, and Mike was one of them. Thankfully we got him."
Philadelphia has five games remaining. If Vecchione plays this season, he would become a restricted free agent this summer.
Vecchione had 29 goals and 34 assists in 38 games for Union College and is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA's top player. His 63 points were tied for the most in the country.
He is Union's all-time leading scorer with 71 goals and 105 assists in 149 games and won the 2014 national title in Philadelphia alongside Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Vecchione was one of the top college free agents available, ultimately picking the Flyers over the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning. He could make his debut against the Rangers on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
Philadelphia has had success with college free agents recently, signing winger Matt Read out of Bemidji State in 2011 and goaltender Alex Lyon out of Yale last year.
"There's not a lot of hits with NCAA guys," Hextall said. "There's a lot of players signed. We typically look at the top end and we take a run — and if we don't get them, we don't get them. Mike was clearly one of the top guys."
This story has been corrected to show that Vecchione would because a restricted, not unrestricted, free agent this summer if he plays this season.