PHILADELPHIA (AP) -James van Riemsdyk is giving up his final two years of college hockey to join the Philadelphia Flyers.
Van Riemsdyk, the second overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft, signed an entry-level deal that takes effect next season.
"Obviously, this is a thrill of a lifetime," the 19-year-old forward said Wednesday in a statement. "This is a day I have been dreaming about ever since I got drafted by the Flyers. Just to have this opportunity is something I am really grateful for.
The University of New Hampshire star also signed an amateur tryout for the remainder of this season and has been assigned to the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL, the Flyers' affiliate.
"We are pleased to have James in the fold and look forward to monitoring his development more closely," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said in a statement. "It was a difficult decision for James to leave school, but we both believed that it was in his best interest to do so."
The left winger led New Hampshire with 17 goals and 23 assists this season.
"I thought the sooner I made this decision the better it would be for all parties involved," van Riemsdyk said. "Since I've decided to leave school, I've told the UNH coaching staff and everyone else early on so they will have more time to fill my spot there.
"I just thought signing at this point would help me get my feet wet a little bit in the professional game and start working on some things that I want to improve upon. Obviously, this is a huge jump in level of play. I know I am going to have to work hard, and basically that is what I am expecting."