Metro/John Matisz Michael Houser prepares for a shot from the point during a playoff game versus the Kitchener Rangers in April.

A day after signing a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, London Knights goaltender Michael Houser spoke to Metro reporter John Matisz about the milestone.

How it all came together

John Matisz: I know a handful of teams invited you out to their development camp. Run me through how you landed on the decision to attend the Panthers and Jets ones.

Michael Houser: Basically, my agent set me up with a couple of different options. We didn’t want teams to think I was going to a camp looking to head back to junior. We wanted them to know I was ready to sign. Florida and Winnipeg ended up being the best choices.

JM: It must have been a stressful few days before picking the two destinations.

MH: We’re happy with how the situation unfolded. I have a good chance of playing pro next year and moving up the ranks.

JM: What ultimately factored into choosing Florida, in comparison to weighing your options after your trip to Manitoba?

MH: One of the main things was the depth charts of each team, their current goalies’ ages and potential. We did our research and Florida was a good fit.

JM: Just a couple of weeks ago you had to field questions about being NHL teams passing on you for the third draft in a row. You must be on Cloud 9 right now.

MH: It feels great. Obviously, in the past things haven’t worked out but I knew that if I kept concentrating on my on-ice production something would work to my favour.

Time with the Knights

JM: The Knights organization gave you a chance after you went undrafted to the OHL. Are they up there with your family in terms of people to thank first?

MH: I’ve had awesome support throughout my whole hockey career. Especially since arriving in London three years ago. The Hunters and Dark, and my family, have all been great to me.

JM: Now that the burning desire to finally get drafted is irrelevant, what will motivate you moving forward?

MH: I guess I just want to keep developing. I still have a long road to go to get to my goal of playing in the NHL.

JM: Does inking an NHL contract help soothe the pain generated from coming so close to winning the Memorial Cup?

MH: A little bit. But, they’re two different things. At the same time, people would give up a signing bonus, for example, for a Memorial Cup ring any-day. It still stings. I’m not getting over that loss anytime soon.

The Sunshine State

JM: So, how did Dale Tallon and the rest of Panthers management leave things with you after signing on?

MH: As of right now, they want me to play pro next year in either the ECHL or AHL.

JM: You might end up in Florida over the next couple of years. Are you ‘good weather’ person?

MH: I was just down there and I don’t know how anybody could not like that place. You can wear sandals and shorts at all times.

JM: Lastly, I have to ask, do you have any plans for what you’re going to do with your first pro pay cheque?

MH: I’ll probably put most of it away. Maybe I’ll go shopping and spend a couple thousand, but nothing crazy.

Also under NHL contract

  • Austin Watson — Nashville Predators (signed March 2011)
  • Greg McKegg — Toronto Maple Leafs (June 2011)
  • Scott Harrington — Pittsburgh Penguins (July 2011)
  • Jared Knight — Boston Bruins (July 2011)
  • Jarred Tinordi — Montreal Canadiens (November 2011)
  • Vlad Namestnikov — Tampa Bay Lightning (March 2012)
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