The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, members of the United States Hockey League, announced Wednesday they have signed forward T.J. Walsh from Cushing Academy (USHS) to a tender for the 2016-17 season. Walsh is the fourth player to sign a tender with a USHL team this season. Eight players signed tender contracts last season.
A tender contract allows USHL clubs to sign a player directly to their team in exchange for their first or second round pick in the USHL Phase I Draft. Walsh, a Boston College commit, is the seventh player in Cedar Rapids team history to sign a tender, joining Philadelphia Flyers prospect Ivan Provorov and Hugh McGing, who currently is second in team scoring with 49 points and 22 goals.
“The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are thrilled to welcome T.J. and his family to the RoughRiders organization,” said Cedar Rapids head coach and general manager Mark Carlson. “T.J. is a person with great character and he has special qualities on the ice. I was very impressed with him when I saw him play. We look forward to helping T.J. develop as a person and as a player before he heads to Boston College in a few years.”
Walsh comes to Cedar Rapids after spending the past two seasons at two different schools. During the 2014-15 season, Walsh led the country in bantam scoring with the prestigious Shattuck-St. Mary’s program, scoring 136 points in 66 games including 71 goals. Walsh was one of three players, including Oliver Wahlstrom (Shattuck-St. Mary’s) and Lucas Theriault (Soo Thunder), to score over 100 points that season.
After undergoing offseason surgery, Walsh returned home in order to rehab and play at Cushing Academy where he finished fifth in team scoring with 24 points in 23 games. Walsh spent the season as a linemate with Cedar Rapids RoughRiders affiliate and close friend Marc McLaughlin, who led Cushing in scoring with 43 points in 33 games. McLaughlin was a Cedar Rapids 2015 USHL Phase I Draft pick in the 3rd round, 43rd overall. Walsh also represented the United States at the 2015 Youth Olympic Games, scoring six points in six games.
“I felt really comfortable (in Cedar Rapids). Coach Carlson seems like an awesome guy and an awesome coach, and they have such a prestigious program,” said Walsh. “I feel like it will be a really good place for my development in the future.”
Walsh currently stands at 5’9” and 159 pounds. He admits that he may be smaller than most of his peers, but is not afraid of the challenge ahead playing against 18 and 19-year old players. Walsh also admitted that he doesn’t model his game directly after one single player, but the comparisons and similarities to Johnny Gaudreau (Dubuque Fighting Saints) follows him everywhere he plays.
“He’s very elusive and is a huge threat offensively,” said Walsh of Gaudreau. “That’s what it’s all about. If you’re going to play with bigger, older, stronger kids, you still have to find a way to produce and show your skill.”
Now in its fifth year, the USHL Tender process allows teams to sign up to two 2000 birth year players prior to the 2016 USHL Phase I Draft. The first tender for a team would take the place of a first-round pick in Phase I of the USHL Draft, and if the team tenders a second player, that would take the place of a second-round selection in the USHL Phase I Draft. The final day for USHL teams to sign a tender is Sunday May 1, 2016.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 14th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2015-16. A record 37 players were chosen in the 2015 NHL Draft and more than 375 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.