Mike Vecchione has always understood the value of hard work. He knows that nothing is given.
Hard work paid off form him in his four years with the Union College hockey team. It got him a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers in March for the final few weeks of the season.
Now, Vecchione will be wearing the Flyers’ black and orange for two more seasons. He re-signed with the Flyers on Saturday.
It’s a two-year, one-way contract, meaning Vecchione gets paid an NHL salary even if he plays for the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The salary cap hit is $900,000.
“It feels awesome, obviously,” Vecchione said. “They have a lot of faith in me. When I was there, I felt really comfortable. They were great. They treated me like family. They have high expectations for me. To give me this two-year deal, obviously they’re putting a lot of faith in me. I’m just going to train as hard as I can and make sure I’m prepared and prove them right.”
Vecchione will most likely compete with Scott Laughton for a shot as the fourth-line center. Laughton, a former Flyers first-round pick, spent the 2016-17 season in Lehigh Valley.
The Flyers are deep at center. Their top center is captain Claude Giroux. They just selected another center, Nolan Patrick, with the second overall pick in last weekend’s NHL Draft.
“It’s going to be very tough,” Vecchione said. “They have a good amount of centers. They drafted Nolan Patrick, who is a great player. You’ve got guys like Giroux, [Sean] Couturier, [Valtteri] Filppula, who are unreal veterans. You have some other young guys. They just signed [right wing Jordan] Weal, who can play some center. It’s going to be tough competition.
“They said nothing’s promised. You have to work for it. Like I’ve said time and time again, nothing’s been handed to me. I’ve always had to work for everything. I’m excited. It was this way when I was going into Union. They didn’t expect me to play and start at center. But I worked my way up and battled. I have that mindset going into this training camp. I’m just going to have to fight for that fourth-line spot.”
Vecchione, who will participate in the Flyers Development Camp July 7-12, signed with the Flyers shortly after the Dutchmen’s season ended. He played in two games for the Flyers, but didn’t record a point. Vecchione was strong on faceoffs, winning 67 percent of the draws.
Vecchione had an outstanding senior season for the Dutchmen and led them to a share of the ECAC Hockey regular-season title and berth in the NCAA Tournament. He led the team in scoring with 29 goals and 34 assists for a team-record 63 points. Vecchione was named ECAC Hockey Player of the Year, was a Hobey Baker Award Hat Trick finalist and named a first-team All-America. Vecchione became Union’s all-time leading scorer with 176 points.
MORE UNION SIGNINGS
Vecchione’s signing capped a busy few days for former Dutchmen players.
Mat Bodie, who captained the 2014 NCAA title team, signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bodie started the season with the Hartford Wolf Pack (New York Rangers) before he was traded to the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres).
Right wing Josh Jooris, who played for Union from 2010-13, signed a one-year, $775,000 contract with the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
Jooris split time between the New York Rangers and Arizona Coyotes last season. This will be the third NHL organization for Jooris. He signed with the Calgary Flames after his junior year in 2013 and spent three seasons in the organization.
Goalie Keith Kinkaid, a potential free agent, re-signed with the New Jersey Devils on Friday. It’s a two-year deal worth $2.5 million.
Kinkaid played for Union from 2009-11. He first signed with the Devils following Union’s 2010-11 season. He has spent six years in the organization, which included time with the Albany Devils.
Right wing Spencer Foo signed his two-year entry level contract with the Flames on Saturday. Foo, who gave up his senior season to pursue an NHL deal, agreed to terms with the Flames on Tuesday.