The Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL announced this afternoon that forward Ryan Gropp has committed to join their team. Gropp had previously given a verbal commitment to play for North Dakota, but signing with the Thunderbirds will negate his NCAA eligibility.
Gropp was a first round bantam draft selection of Seattle in 2011, going 6th overall in the bantam draft. He was considered one of the top prospects available in western Canada that had not signed on to play in the WHL, and one of the better prospects in all of Canada, after an impressive performance at Canada's Ivan Hlinka U18 training camp this past summer.. Gropp had started this season playing with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL, where he had a 3-5-8 line for the Vees through their first ten games of the season.
Gropp is a late '96 birthdate, and thus not eligible for this summer's NHL Draft, but the 6'3" 170 lbs. power forward is expected to be a high draft pick in 2015.