Boston University goalie Matt O'Connor has agreed to a two-year entry level contract with the Ottawa Senators.
"I had to go someplace where I'm going to develop and I feel that Ottawa is a great place for me to develop as a goalie," O'Connor told the Senators website Saturday.
O'Connor, who finished his junior year with the Terriers, was one of the most sought-after undrafted college free agents. He helped BU reach the national championship game this season, and had a 25-4-4 record, a .927 save percentage and 2.18 goals-against average.
"We are very excited to welcome Matt to the Senators family," Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray said in a statement. "Matt is a fine example of both the type of player and person that our organization looks for when we are acquiring talent. We are confident that under the tutelage of our player development staff, Matt will have the opportunity to develop into an outstanding National Hockey League goaltender."
The Senators were among four teams O'Connor, a Toronto native, was considering, including the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks.
"It was an extremely difficult decision and I was pretty analytical in making it," O'Connor said. "I did some serious deliberations and I think that's why it kind of dragged out a little bit longer than one would it expect. It's a big time in my life to decide on the organization.
"I had four organizations: Edmonton, Ottawa, New York Rangers and Vancouver. I really didn't think there was a possibility to make a bad choice. All of them are first-class organizations and everyone treated me so well ... far beyond what I could have ever expected. Ottawa had shown a lot of interest and a lot of personnel made trips down to Boston throughout the year."
O'Connor joins a Senators goaltending depth chart that includes Craig Anderson, Andrew Hammond (an unrestricted free agent on July 1) and Robin Lehner. He said he expects to play for Binghamton of the American Hockey League.
"As a goalie, you need time to develop in the pro game, so I would definitely picture myself in Binghamton," O'Connor said. "I'm not one to come in to an organization and demand games or expect promises because the bottom line is, it's about stopping the puck.
"I think I can develop a lot in the American League and that's a big opportunity for me. As a goalie, you want to go when you're ready, and I've got a two-year window to develop in to the best goalie I can be."
O'Connor dropped a puck and knocked it into his net in the NCAA final, which his team lost 4-3 to Providence College.
"You can't define yourself on one play, and I think that's been a huge growing moment for me as a goalie," O’Connor told the Ottawa Citizen. "As a goalie, you're either the donkey or the hero, and to face that adversity has made me a lot stronger as a person, and as a goalie."
O'Connor (6-foot-5, 204 pounds) was not chosen in the 2010 NHL Draft. He attended a Senators development camp in 2011.
"I'm a big goalie and I always need to get quicker moving laterally," O'Connor said. "I think my game really improves working with a good strength coach as well, but (Senators goalie coach) Rick Wamsley will work me hard. He's a good, hard-nosed guy that's going to develop my game as a goalie in a lot of aspects like playing the puck, positioning and playing a bit more of an aggressive style. I know when I spoke to him after a game that he came down to see me in Vermont, he said he liked my aggressive style and compared it to Ben Bishop (of the Tampa Bay Lightning)."