MARQUETTE - Northern Michigan University senior captain Justin Florek is on the verge of signing his first professional hockey contract this morning, according to sources close to the Marquette native.
Florek was drafted in the fifth round, No. 135 overall, in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins and will report to the franchise's AHL affiliate in Providence - also called the Bruins.
Florek, who was en route to Providence, Mass., on Thursday evening, was unable to comment on the negotiations until they are finalized.
Northern Michigan University’s Justin Florek of Marquette brings the puck up ice against Michigan Tech at the Berry Events Center on Dec. 16. Florek is on the verge of signing his first professional hockey contract this morning, according to sources close to the Marquette native.
Florek was drafted in the fifth round, No. 135 overall, in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins and will report to the franchise’s AHL affiliate in Providence — also called the Bruins. (Journal file photo by Matt Keiser)
Providence has 11 regular-season games remaining, including tonight's home showdown with the Manchester Monarchs. All 11 games take place on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays, allowing him to continue taking classes.
"I want to go out and play a couple games," Florek said back on March 5. "That would be ideal for me, just to go out for a weekend or two weekends and play. I want to finish out the semester. I still have a year left after this year to take my methods classes and student teach. There's a big difference between coming back for a year and coming back for a year and a half."
Florek, who finished with a team-high 19 goals, nearly led the Wildcats back to the NCAA tournament this season as captain, but NMU was the last team left out of the field after falling in the first round of the CCHA playoffs.
"I think Flo has a great opportunity to move ahead and have a long career in the National Hockey League, but he's going to have to start in the American league and pay his dues and develop and learn to understand the pro game," said NMU head coach Walt Kyle, who was an assistant with the NHL's New York Rangers and Anaheim Ducks.
Florek was a finalist this season for the CCHA's Best Defensive Forward Award, even after finishing second in the league in goal scoring.
That ability to be a two-way player is what gives Kyle confidence in Florek as a professional.
"There's a lot of guys who can't play third line efficiently because they don't understand the game defensively and they don't respect the game defensively," Kyle said. "Flo does and that's going to afford him great opportunities to earn one of those jobs early in his career. I think he's going to have a very long career because he respects the game defensively."
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.