Niagara Gazette — Although he has just one year of college hockey under his belt, Niagara Falls native Vincent Muto is already getting looks at the professional level.
Muto, who finished his freshman year at Niagara University last season as the hockey team’s top scoring defenseman, is attending the development camp of the National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens this week.
The storied NHL club’s camp wraps up today.
“He got a lot of attention the second half of last season,” said Niagara University head hockey coach David Burkholder. “He’s been a pro prospect for a couple of years now. He was one of the better defenders in the USHL (junior league) before he came to Niagara. Just how he progressed last year... we were getting a lot of phone calls and inquiries about Vinny, so for him to get this experience with Montreal’s top prospects and top draft picks for a week is going to go a long way for his overall development.”
Among the players in attendance are prospects within the Habs’ minor league system, recent draft picks and unsigned invitees. Muto, whose rights are not owned by an NHL team, is one of those players who falls in the latter category. His participation does not affect his NCAA eligibility.
Burkholder was asked if his player’s workouts with the famed ‘bleu, blanc et rouge’ might be a sign Muto may not be a Purple Eagle much longer.
“He’s coming back, and most of the kids at this development camp are younger draft picks that’ll be going back to their respective college or junior teams,” He said. “(Turning pro) could happen, but we’re anticipating Vinny to come back and continue to develop more.”
Muto and his fellow Purple Eagles will open their 2014-15 hockey season at home. The team’s schedule was released earlier this week and mixes the usual conference rivalries with some dates against some of college hockey’s bigger and better-known programs.