GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- When opportunity knocks, you answer. Just ask New York Rangers defenseman prospect Vince Pedrie, who gave up his final two years at Penn State University for a chance to play in the NHL.
"It felt like an opportunity I couldn't say no to," said Pedrie, 23. "It's something I worked my whole life to get to, and I couldn't say no to that."
The opportunity came the day after the Nittany Lions were eliminated from the NCAA championship by the University of Denver on March 26.
"I talked to [the Rangers] through my adviser a little bit through the year and I didn't know if they were seriously interested or not," Pedrie said. "After the season ended when we lost to Denver, the next day they contacted me and made me an offer. I felt like it was the perfect place playing for an Original Six team. It's something that I've dreamed of."
After signing a two-year entry-level contract with the Rangers on March 28, Pedrie had five assists in nine games with Hartford of the American Hockey League.
"I thought Vince came in and showcased himself well," Hartford coach Keith McCambridge said. "He showed good poise with the puck and possessed strong attributes that you usually don't see right away in defensemen who are just getting a feel for the pro game. For a player who just joined us at the end of his season, he came across as very motivated and professional. He left a good impression on us."
Said Hartford general manager Chris Drury: "He's super competitive and has a lot of polish. He does a lot of things well that you look for in a D-man in this day and age."
Pedrie attended Rangers development camp last month and is expected to be at training camp in September.
"As usual, there will be a learning curve for a young D-man like Vince," McCambridge said, "but it was a good step in his development to come in at the end of last season and just get a feel for where his game is and where it needs to be in order for him to play for the Rangers."
During his two seasons at Penn State, Pedrie had 52 points (16 goals, 36 assists) in 71 games, helping the Nittany Lions, who began Division I play in 2012-13, win the Big Ten tournament.
"Vince has a way of making the game a lot more exciting," said Erik Autio, Pedrie's defense partner at Penn State. "Playing defense with him is really easy because he uses his offensive instincts to move the puck out of our zone really quickly. He also has an absolute cannon on the blue line, so setting him up for a one-timer is always a good idea."
Pedrie, who grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, says he sees himself playing for the Rangers when they feel the time is right.
"My goal is to win a Stanley Cup in New York," he said, "and do whatever I can to contribute."
Main photo credit: Chris Rutsch/Hartford Wolf Pack