Blades' star unable to find agreement with Leafs
By Daniel Nugent-Bowman, The StarPhoenix
June 1, 2012
As the deadline for NHL teams to sign their 2010 draft picks headed down to the wire Thursday, Saskatoon Blades right-winger Josh Nicholls saw the writing on the wall.
"We're leaning toward going back into the draft, but we'll see what happens," Nicholls, 20, said Thursday afternoon from his parents' Tsawwassen, B.C., home.
As expected, the 2010 seventh-round draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs was not signed by the club by 10 p.m. local time.
As a result, Nicholls is eligible for the 2012 draft, which is scheduled for June 22 and 23 in Pittsburgh.
If not selected by an NHL team, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Having seen former teammate Darian Dziurzynski get drafted in the fifth round by the Phoenix Coyotes last year as a 20-year-old, Nicholls was trying to keep his mind open.
"Those are definitely two options that I'm looking at as possibilities," he said.
After being picked by the Leafs in 2010, Nicholls registered 87 points in 71 games during the following season.
He was second in Blades scoring with 30 goals and 68 points in 2011-12, but was limited to 56 games because of a MCL strain.
"It was a tough year," Nicholls said. "I went through a major injury for the first time in my life. It was definitely a big thing to overcome. I think I've learned a lot over the last year. I think next year's going to be a big year for me to continue to develop and try to make big strides in my play on the ice."
Regardless of what his NHL future holds, the 6foot2, 186-pound forward is preparing to return to the Blades as an overage player next season when the team hosts the MasterCard Memorial Cup. Having watched most of this year's tournament, which ended last Sunday, Nicholls is already excited for next May.
"I think it would be the perfect way to end a junior career to win a Memorial Cup," he said. "I'm really looking forward to that opportunity."
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