Note: The article below is courtesy of the Traverse City Record-Eagle dated April 6.
By Mike Eckert and Dennis Chase
Traverse City Record-Eagle
TRAVERSE CITY -- Zach Redmond is officially a professional
hockey player. And his pro career is getting started in a
Redmond signed a deal with the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday - the same day he practiced with the team's minor-league affiliate in Chicago.
"It's something you always hope for," Redmond said. "The fact that it's signed and sealed - all I've got to do is go play. It's a big relief. It's a lot off of my mind."
The Traverse City Central alum just wrapped up his four-year career at Ferris State University. He was the seventh-round pick of the Thrashers in the 2008 draft. So Tuesday's signing didn't come as a surprise.
"They had offered me a deal last year and we had been in contact the previous three years after the draft," Redmond said. "I've gotta say, I guess I expected it. The negotiation process lasted a little longer than I expected, but that's the business side of the game. It was interesting going through that, for sure."
Redmond finished his collegiate career as one of Ferris State's all-time leaders for a defenseman in points, goals and assists.
"We're appreciative of the fact he turned down Atlanta's offer last year and elected to play one more season," Ferris State coach Bob Daniels said. "He wanted to finish his degree and he wanted to finish his four-year experience at Ferris. That typifies the kind of person he is."
Atlanta had until summer to sign Redmond.
"Zach was in a fortuitous position because if he waited until August 1 he would have become an unrestricted free agent," Daniels said. "He would have been able to sign with any club he wanted. So I think Atlanta put a pretty hard push on him at the end to sign him to a pretty healthy contract. I'm very happy for him. It's very deserving."
Redmond - a 6-foot-2, 201-pound defenseman - will get to work right away in Chicago.
"They only have three left and they're right on the playoff bubble," Redmond said. "We have Friday, Saturday, Sunday games and I believe they need to win Friday and Saturday to get to the playoffs. So we'll see how that goes."
The Wolves will travel to Peoria on Friday before hosting San Antonio and Rockford to close out the regular season. Redmond will stay with Chicago until its season is over.
"Right now I plan on coming back to Traverse City and staying in shape there," Redmond said. "They (Thrashers) have their development camp in July and training camp in September. I'll be getting prepared for those, staying in shape, relaxing and having fun."
Daniels thinks Redmond has a bright future.
"There are a lot of talented kids that make it to this point, like he has," Daniels said. "I think what's going to allow Zach to take that step to the National Hockey League is his character and work ethic. It's second to none. He's by far one of the hardest workers we've had come through our program. I think that will bode well for him. Now, there's going to be a learning
curve. He'll probably play a year in the American League and then wait his turn for a call-up. But I do think in a year, a year and half, he'll be ready to be an everyday National Hockey League player."
Redmond, Ferris State's team captain, wrapped up a stellar career this winter with a career-high seven goals and 13 assists. He was a CCHA first-team standout and was a candidate for the Hobey Baker Award.
"It was a great year," Redmond said. "I had a lot of fun. In your last year, you always want to finish strong. It was unfortunate that I had a few injuries. I think I missed 15-20 games, but I guess that's part of the game and part of life. But I can't regret anything, I had a great four years."
"He had an excellent career at Ferris," Daniels said. "We saw improvement with Zach each year. I think that's a testament to his work ethic. He was a great leader. He was our captain. I think everyone knows Zach through his statistics - he was second on our team in scoring, one of the best offensive-defensemen in the CCHA. But equally important to us was his character and leadership abilities off the ice and in the locker room. He's an excellent student as well. From the ice to the weight room to the classroom, he always set a very good example."
Redmond will look to one day join the 11 Bulldogs currently playing in the NHL.
As Redmond takes the next step in his career, a number of players with Traverse City connections will look to fill his shoes.
Already, Ferris State has former Traverse City North Stars standouts Kyle Bonis, Andy Huff and Garrett Thompson - also a TC native - on roster.
Current North Stars Travis White, Connor Schmidt and Zack Dorer have also committed to the Bulldogs, along with former TC goalie C.J. Motte.
"We've had a lot of luck with players out of Traverse City. It's been a hot spot for us," Daniels said.