Gavin Bayreuther was busy packing Wednesday, getting ready to leave St. Lawrence University in upstate New York and embark on his pro hockey career.
The 22-year-old defenseman is the newest member of the Dallas Stars organization after signing a two-year entry-level contract with the team on Wednesday.
"It's a dream come true. I know it's cliché," Bayreuther said. "I just want to thank everyone here that has supported me and been here for me over the years because this is all because of them. I am very excited to get moving and start my professional hockey career."
Bayreuther, a New Hampshire native, was an undrafted free agent college player that drew interest from NHL teams. As a senior at St. Lawrence University, he registered 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) in 30 games, ranking third among NCAA defensemen in points per game (0.97).
The Stars were at the top of Bayreuther's list of NHL teams, especially after a member of the Dallas organization dropped by to watch him practice.
"Ever since I heard they had an interest in me, I had a special feeling towards them," Bayreuther said. "About a month or two ago, [Stars GM] Jim Nill came and watched one of our practices. That meant the world to me. That was a humbling experience. From then on, I couldn't imagine myself anywhere else. I am excited to be going to [Dallas]."
There's a St. Lawrence University connection with the Stars. Rich Peverley, the former Dallas forward and current Stars player development coordinator, played at St. Lawrence.
"He actually played here with my high school coach," Bayreuther said. "Whether the SLU connection helps any better now, it's really cool to see the Saints alums have made their way a good distance from New York."
Bayreuther played four years at St. Lawrence University, registering 111 points (35 goals, 76 assists) in 142 games. He was the ECAC Rookie of the Year and made both the ECAC Second All-Star Team and All-Rookie Team in 2013-14. He made the ECAC First All-Star Team in 2015-16.
Taking the college route as his development path was an easy choice over major junior.
"Both my parents being teachers, they took schooling very seriously," Bayreuther said. "I never really thought seriously about taking the major junior route. I was always interested in college and wanted to get a degree because that is ultimately the most important thing. But I also wanted to put the jersey on and play for the school and play for your schoolmates, the guys you go to lunch with every day and go to classes with every day."
The scouting report on Bayreuther, who is 6-1, 195 pounds, and a left-shot, is that he is a smart player who reads the game well and possesses good puck skills, a good shot, and good skating ability.
Bayreuther provided his own scouting report.
"I am an offensive defenseman, but I just see myself trying to make the right play, making that next pass and getting the puck up the ice," he said. "Creating offense from defense is something I try to do and join the rush and gets a lot of shots on that."
And he knows he has to work on as he makes the jump from college to the pro ranks.
"I ultimately want to be a 200-foot player," Bayreuther said. "I have a lot to work on, and I understand those things. I am looking forward to working with the Texas and Dallas coaches to become a better player."
Bayreuther's entry-level contract with Dallas will kick in next season, but he'll get his pro career underway this weekend. He's flying to Cleveland to join the Texas Stars Thursday night after signing an amateur tryout contract with the AHL club on Wednesday. It will be a new experience for Bayreuther, one he is relishing.
"I don't know anyone on the team," he said, "so I am really excited to get there and meet some new guys and help them get to where they want to go."
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.