Zemgus Girgensons pretty much hinted last night that there was a good chance he was signing with the Sabres today rather than playing next season for the University of Vermont.
And that's apparently what's happened. Both Vermont and the Dubuque Fighting Saints, his United States Hockey League team, have announced Girgensons has signed a three-year entry-level contract. (2:20 p.m. update: The Sabres have now announced the deal, and Girgensons and GM Darcy Regier will meet the media at 3:30)
Girgensons, taken 14th overall in last month's draft in Pittsburgh, will likely start his season in Rochester. But he was impressive in development camp this week, actually outplaying top pick Mikhail Grigorenko, and will certainly get a look for the big club at main camp in September.
"It is with mixed emotions that I announce that Zemgus Girgensons will not enroll at UVM in September and instead sign an NHL contract with the Buffalo Sabres," Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said in a statement released by the school.
"Throughout the recruiting process, Zemgus has been very loyal to UVM, turning down offers to play Major Junior Hockey as well as Russia's premier professional league, the KHL, in order to maintain his goal of playing for the Catamounts. We have stated often that if we are going to lose Zemgus, we hope it's to the NHL team that selects him in the draft. Buffalo feels confident that Zemgus can play for them this year as well as with the Rochester Americans of the AHL.
"We support Zemgus and wish him the best of luck as he begins his professional career with Buffalo.
Girgensons led Dubuque in scoring last season 24 goals and 55 points. He was the team captain and an All-USHL First Teamer. He also became the highest-drafted Latvian in NHL history. The 6-foot-2, 198-pound Girgensons scored a nifty goal during Thursday's camp scrimmage and was a physical force all four days.
"I would like to thank Coach Sneddon and his staff for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to play for UVM," Girgensons said in a Vermont statement. "This was a very difficult decision for me to say the least.
"I always felt that the NCAA was the best way for me to develop on and off the ice. After attending the Buffalo Sabres camp, and learning their plans for me, I feel I am ready to begin my professional career."
GM Darcy Regier said Thursday night negotiations are continuing with Grigorenko on an entry-level deal. He cannot play in Rochester this year; he can only play for the Sabres or return to junior hockey with the Quebec Ramparts.