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Donovan looks to the future

Islanders prospect Matt Donovan said he's happy to be a part of such a talented draft class

Wednesday, 07.13.2011 / 7:44 PM / News
By Brittany Cole
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Donovan looks to the future
Entering his fourth Islanders Mini-Camp, Matt Donovan is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his fellow 2008 draftees.

The 21-year-old defensive prospect spent last season with the University of Denver Pioneers before signing an entry-level contract and playing in six games with the AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers. As Donovan comes back for round four this week, he said his experience makes the trip to Long Island a lot more fun this time around.

“I think just knowing all of the guys a little more this year is great,” Donovan said. “I know all of those guys who played in Bridgeport. I know the coaches a little better. I think it’s just a familiarity, knowing most of the guys and just having fun with them.”

He attributes a strong draft class, which includes current Islanders Josh Bailey, Matt Martin, Travis Hamonic and Kevin Poulin, to helping push him to where he wants to be - in an Isles uniform.

Islanders prospect Matt Donovan laughs as he talks to Rhett Rakhshani during an on-ice session of Islanders Mini-Camp at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday, July 13, 2011.
“Martin and Hamonic are good to have here this week and good to look up to,” Donovan said. “Knowing they did it last year definitely gives me hope. Talking to those guys and getting to know what they did and how they got here gives me and the rest of us in ’08 that hope that it could be our turn soon.”

That 2008 group also includes Corey Trivino, Aaron Ness, David Ullstrom and Justin DiBenedetto, all of whom are attending camp this week. Being together all of these years also helps to make camp a more enjoyable experience.

“There are a bunch of us,” Donovan said. “All of us are pretty close, so that’s great. It’s good to have each other and go through this together.”

For Donovan, a player who grew up in Oklahoma where hockey is not very prevalent, making it to the NHL would be a dream come true; a dream he said hopefully comes true very soon.

“Not many hockey players come out of Oklahoma and go places,” he said. “My dad worked at a rink and still works there, so I was always at the rink. Obviously, that helped because I was always able to be there and improve.”

After moving to Dallas when he was 16 to play triple A hockey, he moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to play junior hockey for the RoughRiders in the United States Hockey League before starting his NCAA career at the University of Denver in 2009.

During his sophomore campaign with Denver in 2010-11, Donovan tallied nine goals and 23 assists before adding one goal and four assists in his six games with the Sound Tigers. Though his goal is to suit up for the Islanders, he said playing in Bridgeport would not be a disappointment.

Obviously you want to play in the NHL and that’s my goal. I think I have a good chance if I come into camp the way I should and play the way I can, but I’m not going to be put down by going to Bridgeport. I know going to Bridgeport would also be good for me. Whatever happens, happens. - Matt Donovan
“Obviously you want to play in the NHL and that’s my goal,” he said. “I think I have a good chance if I come into camp the way I should and play the way I can, but I’m not going to be put down by going to Bridgeport. I know going to Bridgeport would also be good for me. Whatever happens, happens.”

Between Oklahoma, Denver and Bridgeport, Donovan has moved around the United States quite a bit during his hockey career, but he wants to call Long Island home for a long time. There’s plenty of hope in him for that future.

“Hopefully, we get a new arena,” Donovan said. “Hopefully I’m in this organization for a long time. I hope they can get this referendum passed so we can get a new arena. Hopefully one day when I’m an Islander, I can have a brand new arena to play in.”

If the referendum is passed, a brand new arena could see Donovan and those fellow members of the 2008 draft class playing together in Islanders uniforms for quite a long time.




1 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 49 14 32 3 92 174 31


J. Tavares 48 23 25 -1 48
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 48 9 25 16 34
B. Nelson 48 15 15 5 30
F. Nielsen 48 9 17 4 26
J. Boychuk 38 4 21 16 25
J. Bailey 36 8 14 7 22
N. Leddy 48 7 14 14 21
N. Kulemin 48 11 9 0 20
A. Lee 42 13 5 6 18
J. Halak 26 10 0 .912 2.42
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