Mike Vecchione attended last July's Flyers development camp.
Forgetting for a moment what his former Union College teammate Shayne Gostisbehere had told him about the organization, Vecchione went into the camp with eyes wide open.
He liked what he saw. He remembered what he saw. And that was added reasoning for signing with the Flyers on Friday morning (see story).
"In my heart I felt I had the best opportunity in Philly and I couldn't be happier with how everything turned out," Vecchione said during a conference call.
"With the whole Philly organization, I got to meet everyone when I went to development camp, the coaches, Mr. Hextall, the rest of the front office guys, a lot of the players. I just had that experience being around everybody, learning from their systems and learning from guys.
"I talked to Ghost. He obviously wanted me to go there, but at the same time it's what's best for me and my future and it's ultimately my decision."
Vecchione is the first top-three finalist from Union College up for the Hobey Baker Award as the top collegian in the country. Ghost was a top-10 finalist only.
This is a major step going right from the college ranks to the NHL. Not even Ghost was able to bypass the AHL.
"Obviously it's a huge jump," Gostisbehere said of his newest teammate. "You can't say it's not. It's totally different. I went right [into] the American League and I thought that was a bit of a jump for me coming right from college.
"But Veccs is a different player. He's 24 years old and I think his game's way too mature for the college level. It's going to be cool to see it translate to the professional level."
Vecchione made it clear he prefers to play center.
"We talked about that a little bit," Vecchione said. "Obviously, I'm a centerman. Four good years at Union and that's where my comfort zone is. When you're in the middle you have a lot more room to make some plays, but obviously at center comes a lot more responsibility in the D-zone. Just being responsible in all three zones, actually."
Hextall said he needed to see how things "shake out" during training camp next fall but he is leaning toward center as well, which means Pierre-Edouard Bellemare would move to the wing.
Then again, Vecchione didn't totally rule out wing either.
"We did talk about my flexibility to play wing," he said. "I played wing a lot in high school and junior hockey and then converted to center as a college guy. I'm really happy that they're gonna put me in at center.
"It's that comfort level to stick with what I know best there. I feel like my game is at center, providing offense there and obviously being strong defensively is something that we talked about, so if I'm not providing offense I can be a good asset defensively and vice-versa."
Hextall said Vecchione needs at least one practice with the team before playing. It wasn't certain whether he would make Saturday's morning skate.
The earliest Vecchione could play would be Sunday night's game in New York against the Rangers, one of the teams who wanted his services.
"They want me to come in and play some games," he said. "That wasn't a deciding factor whether I'd get into some games this year or try out and get in some games next year.
"I definitely want to get some experience in at the end of this year, get my feet wet, get my feel for everything, figure out the systems that Philly runs and get acclimated to the whole organization and how they operate over there. Hopefully, I can get into some games soon."