Saskatoon Blades forward Josh Nicholls is NHL-bound next season after signing a three-year entry-level deal with the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old Tsawwassen, B.C., native has played in Saskatoon for the past five seasons, and with 2012-2013 being his last eligible year, Nicholls said the weight on his shoulder to find a place to play next year has disappeared.
"It's great to get that deal done for myself and for my family, but the focus is still on this season and winning a WHL Championship and a Memorial Cup," said Nicholls.
Drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2010 in the seventh round, the Leafs lost their chance to sign him last summer, making Nicholls a free agent.
In 326 games with the Blades, Nicholls has racked up 301 points. This season he's leading the Blades in goals with 42. In 31 playoff games with Saskatoon, Nicholls has recorded eight goals and 16 points.
Nicholls said whether as a Maple Leaf of a Ranger, he's happy just to have the chance to play in the NHL.