Reilly Walsh started laughing when New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero told him immediately after he drafted him that his upcoming college career at Harvard was going to be the "best three years" of his life.
The reason Shero docked the right-handed shooting defenseman of a year is because a player can become an unrestricted free agent following his senior season if he stays for four years.
"I was in shock still from getting picked," remembered Walsh, who was selected 81st overall in the 2017 National Hockey League draft. "Then I went to meet the general manager and I didn’t know what to say. Hearing that brought me back down and made me laugh, and I kept laughing as I introduced myself to the other staff members."
The smiles continued for the Andover, N.H., native throughout his freshman season. He appeared in all 33 games and finished first among ECAC freshman blueliners in scoring with 20 points (7-13-20) en route to being named to the ECAC Hockey All-Rookie Team. His swift ascent to the top of his class shouldn’t be a surprise.