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Matt Donovan inks entry level contract

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
On Wednesday morning, the New York Islanders signed yet another one of their 2008 draft selections to an entry-level contract. Matt Donovan, who spent the last two seasons defending the blue-line at the University of Denver, inked his deal.

“I’m very, very excited,” Donovan said when reached by phone. “I hope that I can play the same game that I’ve played my whole life, continue to play solid defensively and hopefully contribute offensively as well.”

While his entry-level deal will not kick in until the 2011-12 season, Donovan will report to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers immediately, where he will play the remainder of the 2010-11 season with the Islanders American Hockey League affiliate on an Amateur Tryout Contract.

Matt Donovan skates in a game for the University of Denver. (Rich Clarkson, Associates/NCAA Photos)
“Starting now will just help me get my feet wet in my professional hockey career,” Donovan said. “It will help me figure out where I am and where need to be (talent and endurance wise), which will really help me figure out how hard I need to work this summer to make it to the Island.”

In his sophomore season, Donovan surpassed all other Pioneers defensemen in scoring, posting a career-best 32 points (9 goals, 23 assists), bypassing his 7 goal, 14 assist freshman season by 11 points.

“My defensive game has gotten a lot stronger over the last couple of years,” the Edmond, Oklahoma native said. “I’m a defenseman, but more specifically and offensive defenseman.”

Donovan continued, “I like to contribute offensively and my defensive skills weren’t always there or I wasn’t playing well defensively, but I think the past couple years, specifically this past year, I’ve developed a lot better defensively.”

The 20-year-old said he owes a lot of that improvement to his coaches at Denver.

“It was unbelievable,” Donovan said. “The coaches are awesome, all the guys are awesome. I had a great two years there. I think the coaches and the staff all helped me develop a lot and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Now that his collegiate career is over, defenseman has started to look towards his future. He knows his transition to the Arena at Harbor Yard will be seamless, especially since he’s friends with Rhett Rakhshani, who has been selected to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team, and Aaron Ness, who signed his entry-level contract with the Islanders franchise last week.

While Donovan’s excited to get started, he knows this is just the beginning for him.

“Hopefully I’m playing in the NHL soon,” Donovan said. “That’s my main goal. That’s what I’ve always dreamed of doing and hopefully that’s where I’m headed.”

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