Prospects News & Rumors: Notre Dame, Willman & Talvitie

According to reports out of Albany, NY, the NCAA tournament will have one less team this morning. Also, the Philadelphia Flyers rewarded one of their American Hockey League players and the New Jersey Devils inked a draft pick after his college career.  

Notre Dame Out of NCAA Tournament

If you were looking forward to Saturday’s first-round game between Notre Dame and Boston College you are going to be very disappointed. The Fighting Irish were scheduled to play in the Albany Regional along with BC, St. Cloud State and Boston University.

However, that four-team region appears to be down to just three teams. Reports started rolling in this morning that Notre Dame was dealing with possible positive COVID-19 tests. Jeff Cox of New England Hockey Journal and John Buccigross of ESPN were among the first to break the news on Twitter Thursday morning.

Eventually, College Hockey News was the first report that Notre Dame has withdrawn from the tournament, which the NCAA later confirmed.

Had the positives tests came within 24 hours of the brackets being released, a new team would have been added to the tournament as a replacement. This is what happened to St. Lawrence, who earned the automatic bid from ECAC Hockey but had to withdraw. They were replaced by Quinnipiac.

Since that isn’t the case, Saturday’s game will be considered a no-contest, and Boston College will advance to Sunday’s regional final to take on the winner of the game between St. Cloud State and Boston University. The winner of that game will move on to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh.

Max Willman Earns an NHL Contract

It is rare to consider a 26-year-old as an NHL prospect, but we will make an exception for Willman because it is such a good story. On Wednesday, all the years of hard work were rewarded as the Flyers signed him to a two-year, two-way contract. He will make $750,000 per year with the deal kicking in at the start of the 2021-22 season.

The Buffalo Sabres originally drafted Willman in the fifth round (121st overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. After the draft, the forward played four seasons at Brown University and one at Boston University in 2018-19. Since his college career ended, he has split time between the Reading Royals of the ECHL and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the AHL.

In 2019-20, he had nine goals and 25 points in 20 ECHL games and played 24 games in the AHL, where he scored three goals and nine points. Things have clicked for him with the Phantoms this season as he has six goals and eight points through 12 games. He was named the AHL Player of the Week for the final week of February when he scored five goals in three games.

Aarne Talvitie Lands in New Jersey

The Devils announced Thursday morning that they signed Talvitie to a two-year, entry-level contract that will start in 2021-22. He signed an AHL contract with the Binghamton Devils and will play the remainder of the season there following the completion of his quarantine.

Talvitie is officially part of the Devils organization. (Photo Credit: New Jersey Devils/Patrick Dodson)

The 22-year-old forward, born in Espoo, Finland, was drafted by New Jersey in the sixth round (160th overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He had an outstanding junior career in his home country with 47 goals and 96 points in 93 games in the Jr. A SM-liiga. He came to North America in 2018 and spent the last three seasons at Penn State University. He had 18 goals and 48 points in 68 career games with the Nitty Lions.

Talvitie captained Finland’s team at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship that beat the United States for the gold medal. He had four goals and seven points in seven tournament games. He touted for his two-way game and playing with a high-compete level every he steps on the ice. We will see how this translates to the pro ranks once he makes his AHL debut.

Sign up for our regular 'Prospects Newsletter' for all the latest.