Manning inks pro deal

The Chilliwack Bruins announced Tuesday that defenceman Brandon Manning has signed a three year entry level contract with the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers.

After going undrafted in last summer’s NHL entry draft, the 20-year-old was free to sign with the big league club of his choice. Manning previously attended prospect and training camps with the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers.

But among the handful of teams expressing interest, it was the Flyers who impressed him the most.

“They were in the mix since the summer, wanting me to come to their camp, and their level of interest made my decision pretty easy,” he explained. “Their general manger (Paul Holmgren) came forward with an offer that we liked, and I’ve heard from a couple coaches in the league that Philadelphia is a great organization and great place to play.”

Fully confident in his on-ice abilities, Manning always believed 100 per cent that he would be signed, and he maintained that belief even as several of his Chilliwack teammates were drafted by NHL teams. Finally getting his name on a contract was a relief, knowing that the road is now paved towards the next step in professional hockey.

“You set out when you’re young to play in the NHL and it’s a bit of a relief to know going forward that I’ve got three years to become a professional and move on from there,” Manning said. “It’s a relief to get it done and not have to worry about going to school or finding a job after hockey. I can look at hockey as my life and my job and that’s pretty exciting.”

Manning will spend the duration of the 2010-11 season with the Chilliwack Bruins, trying to put the finishing touches on an impressive major junior career.

Manning showed up in Chilliwack late in the 2007-08 season, making the jump from the B.C. Hockey League’s Prince George Spruce Kings.

He played six regular season and four playoff games that year before making the leap to full-time duty in 2008-09.

Last year was his breakout season, setting career highs in goals (13) and points (54) in 69 games played. He’s taken it to another level this year. Coming into action on Wednesday night, Manning was leading all Western Hockey League defencemen in scoring with 10 goals and 26 points in 20 games. He has only been held pointless in two games this season.

Manning surpassed David Robinson as the all-time Bruins penalty king late last year, accumulating 341 penalty minutes to date. Earlier this season, Manning (167-34-75-109) eclipsed former Bruins captain Nick Holden (137-30-61-91) as the top scoring blueliner in Chilliwack franchise history.

“I think one of the things Philly liked about me was my all-round game,” Manning noted. “I can put pucks in the net, but at the same time my defensive game has been solid. I play a physical hard-nosed style and I’m not afraid to drop the gloves. Obviously, I can still improve my defensive game and work on the some of the little things, just trying to get better every day.”

Manning and the Bruins are in action Friday night, hosting the Portland Winter Hawks at Prospera Centre.

Puck drop is 7:30 p.m.