Union College\'s Jeremy Welsh, right, looks to get past Ferris State\'s Simon Denis during the first period of an NCAA Frozen Four college hockey tournament semifinal game, Thursday, April 5, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
RALEIGH, N.C. - It's been a whirlwind few days for Jeremy Welsh: First the Frozen Four, then his NHL debut.
The forward is expected to skate for the Carolina Hurricanes at Florida on Saturday night. That's less than 48 hours after his Union College team lost in the NCAA semifinals and he signed with Carolina as a college free agent.
"I want to see him play, and I'm sure he'll get some good ice time," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said Friday after practice.
The 23-year-old Welsh certainly had an unforgettable Thursday night.
A few hours after his Union team was beaten by Ferris State in the Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla., he signed a one-year deal with Carolina that will pay $832,000 in the NHL or $70,000 in the minor leagues and included a $92,500 signing bonus.
The signing was announced by the Hurricanes six minutes before midnight, and he was expected to meet the team upon its arrival in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Welsh played three seasons at Union, ranking third in the nation with 27 goals this season while adding 17 assists and leading the school to its first Frozen Four berth, and finished his career with 53 goals and 47 assists in 119 college games.
Before that, he had 36 goals and 47 assists in 2008-09 in his final season at the junior level with Oakville of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Because he went undrafted that year, he was free to sign with any NHL team that wanted him once his college season ended.
Muller says he hopes the physical, 6-foot-3 forward can make some plays in front of the net.
"It's a lot of emotion, I'm sure," Muller said. "He's really probably fully engaged in his team there, and wanted to win the championship. I'm sure he's going through a roller-coaster of being a good team guy and going through that, and being excited about that, and all of a sudden losing.
"All that heartbreak there, and then all of a sudden, you turn around and realized, 'I'm a couple of days away from playing my first NHL game,'" Muller added. "You tie it all in, and that's an emotional weekend for anybody."