2006 First Round Pick to join Islanders organization following the World Junior Championships
Highly-touted prospect Kyle Okposo
's professional hockey career is just about ready for lift-off.
This morning the New York Islanders signed Okposo, their 2006 first round draft pick, to a three-year contract. Okposo will become a member of the Islanders organization following the conclusion of the World Junior Championships, where he is a member of Team USA.
"It would be an understatement to say we're excited about coming to terms with Kyle Okposo
on his first contract with the Islanders,” said general manager Garth Snow. "As a hockey player, Kyle is the complete package. He has skill and character in abundance. Our organization is going to work extremely hard with Kyle to make him the best player that he can be. With the energy, enthusiasm and heart Kyle brings to the rink every night, there's no doubt he's going to be a favorite of Islanders fans for a long time.”
Said Okposo this morning from the Czech Republic: "This is an incredible day for me and my family. I want to thank the Islanders for making it happen and I want our fans to know that I can't wait to begin my Islanders career. My focus right now needs to be on Team USA, but I'll be more than ready when my pro career starts in a few weeks.”
The Islanders drafted Okposo with the seventh overall selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. In a season and a half at the University of Minnesota, the 19-year-old St. Paul native played in a total of 58 games and scored 26 goals with 25 assists for 51 points. As a true freshman in 2006-07, Okposo scored 19 goals with 21 assists for 40 points in 40 games. That season, he was named to the All-WCHA Second Team and the WCHA All-Rookie Team. Okposo also finished second on Minnesota in goals and finished tied for third in the WCHA in freshman scoring.
In addition to being a member of the United States team at this year's World Junior Championships – where he had a goal and assist in Team USA's 5-1 win over Kazakhstan on Wednesday - Okposo also represented his country in 2007 at the WJC.
Prior to being drafted by the Islanders, Okposo played for Des Moines of the USHL in the 2005-06 season. In 50 games, Okposo scored 27 goals with 31 assists for 58 points. He was named the USHL Rookie of the Year and the USHL Playoff MVP. Okposo was also named to the USHL First All-Star Team and the USHL All-Rookie Team.
"I've had the chance to observe Kyle and talk with him at our prospect development camps,” said Islanders head coach Ted Nolan. "This is a very gifted hockey player and a special individual. I was asked the other day to compare him to Jarome Iginla or other power forwards in the NHL. My response is that it's our responsibility to develop him and see that Kyle Okposo
makes a name for himself.”