On Tuesday, Oshie took another big step in his hockey career by signing a pro contract with the St. Louis Blues of the NHL.
"(Tuesday) was very exciting, obviously," said Oshie, speaking by telephone from St. Louis. "But more than anything else it was kind of surreal. I feel the same way I did when I was drafted. It doesn't really feel like it's going to happen. But I'm sure that will change when it comes time for camp (in August)."
The three-year contract pays Oshie $762,500 in 2008-09 if he stays with the Blues throughout the season. He also received an $85,000 signing bonus.
Getting used to his newfound wealth could take time, he admitted.
"I'm used to being a struggling college kid trying to get enough money to pay the rent the next month," Oshie said. "(Now) I just want to do what I can and be wise with it."
Being a first-round draft pick means "there's a higher chance" of sticking with St. Louis for the upcoming season, he said. "But at the same time, all I've done is sign a piece of paper. So I have to have a big summer, work hard, and then come back and try to make the team (in training camp)."
Oshie, a 6-foot, 192-pound center, was a first-round draft choice by the Blues in 2005 and the 24th selection overall after his senior season in Warroad. He went on to play three seasons at North Dakota, where he had 59 goals and 83 assists in 129 games, and helped the Fighting Sioux to the NCAA Frozen Four all three years.
In his junior season of 2007-08, Oshie was a first-team West All-American and a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given to the top player in NCAA hockey.
Oshie could have returned for one more season at North Dakota, but opted to turn pro.
"I just feel that after this summer, physically and mentally, I'll be ready," he said. "I think last year I felt that I was still kind of a college kid and not really ready to grow up yet. But now I think I've matured and I'm ready to make the jump."
"Throughout his time in the program, T.J. has handled both his successes and challenges with great class and composure," North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol said in a statement. "Over his three years here at UND, he has demonstrated that he truly understands what it means to put on the Fighting Sioux jersey. We look forward to watching the next phase of his career as he steps into the National Hockey League with the St. Louis Blues organization."
Oshie was one of two players to sign with the Blues on Tuesday. The other was forward Lars Eller of Denmark, who was picked in the first round of the 2007 draft.
"We are happy to have T.J. and Lars in the fold, as both players will be important assets for this hockey club as we move forward," St. Louis president John Davidson said in a statement released by the team.
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