Flyers sign center Potulny to 2-year deal

Posted: March 30, 2006

It's a good thing Ryan Potulny was nominated for the Hobey Baker Award this season, because he won't be around for his senior season at the University of Minnesota.

The 6-foot, 192-pound junior center, a third-round draft pick of the Flyers in 2003, agreed to a two-year contract worth $1.6 million yesterday.

The 21-year-old Potulny won't win the Hobey Baker Award, either. Even though he made the original cut list, he was not among the finalists announced this week: Denver defenseman Matt Carle, Boston College forward Chris Collins and Wisconsin goaltender Brian Elliott.

Under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, Potulny cannot report to the Phantoms because of his age, but he will report this morning to the Flyers. Once the NHL trade deadline passes, teams can carry as many players as they want.

"Whether Ryan actually plays a game or many games is entirely up to the coaching staff," Paul Holmgren, the Flyers' assistant general manager, said last night. "He'll be with us now and he'll come to training camp next fall. We'll see what happens."

Potulny seemed excited.

"It's a dream come true," he said. "Ever since I was a young child, [playing in the NHL] was something that I would dream about, and it doesn't happen for many people. I am so excited to be part of this first-class organization."

Potulny had career-highs in goals (38), assists (25) and points (63) this season. He ranked first in the Western College Hockey Association in points per game (1.54), goals per game (0.93), and power-play goals (17). His points, goals, and points per game average were first in the country. Minnesota was 25-4-1 when he recorded at least one point.

"He's a scorer," Holmgren said. "He knows how to get open in the offensive zone. He has an outstanding release. Wherever he plays on the ice, he scores goals."

Potulny's deal affects Minnesota Gophers teammate Danny Irmen, a right wing who was selected nine spots ahead of him (78th overall) in the draft. Minnesota Wild GM Doug Risebrough wanted to see what the Flyers offered Potulny before tendering an offer to Irmen, who is one of their top prospects.

Contact staff writer Tim Panaccio at 215-854-2847 or tpanaccio@phillynews.com.

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