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The defenceman is eager to get his professional career underway

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson /

When Josh Healey inked his first NHL entry-level contract earlier today, he did so with great confidence he was entering into organization that felt like the perfect fit.

After all, he has experience with the Flames.

The Ohio State University defenceman attended Calgary's 2016 development camp - a trip that made him partial to the Flames when it came time to sign with an NHL club after the Buckeyes season came to a close.

"It was a really big influence," Healey told "Everyone was great, really helpful. With me being from Edmonton too, I know the city really well. I love the mountains … it was a great experience.

"Signing (here) kind of feels like coming home.

"I've dreamed of this my whole life. I'm ready to get started."

With his contract kicking in next season, Healey is heading to northern California to join the Stockton Heat on an amateur try-out agreement.

The Heat are sitting just outside of the playoff picture in the American Hockey League and the 22-year-old is hoping to quickly integrate himself at the pro level, maintaining a steady presence in the lineup as Stockton makes a postseason press.

Noting his skating is an area of his game he would like to continue to work on when he joins the Heat, he feels his four years at Ohio State has enabled him to compete against men at the pro level.

"My strength, physically … from being a freshman to now, as a senior, it's a big difference.

"My confidence too … I have more confidence in my game and I feel I'm ready for the next level."

Throughout his four-year collegiate career, Healey became known as one of the NCAA's hardest hitters. He plays a tough game along the boards and dished out plenty of ferocious open-ice hits during his tenure with the Buckeyes.

In fact, an NHL scout recently told TSN's Bob McKenzie that Healey "hits too hard for college hockey" and his physical brand of hockey was more suited to the professional ranks.

Thanks to that aggressive style, Healey's penalty minutes went up every year at Ohio State, hitting 70 in 35 games this season, but so did his offensive totals.

Healey led all Ohio State defencemen with four goals and 25 points this year and in 133 games with the Buckeyes, he registered 12 goals and 60 points.

Tweet from @OhioState_MHKY: WATCH: Josh Healey's goal with 16 seconds remaining in regulation sends Ohio State and Wisconsin to overtime

Prior his collegiate career, Healey spent two seasons with the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Sherwood Park Crusaders. In 102 regular season games, the blueliner posted 12 goals and 35 points.

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