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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Matt Donovan makes Team USA

Congrats to Islander prospect Matt Donovan.  Donovan was selected for Team USA at the upcoming World Jr Hockey Tournament. Donovan was a 4th round pick of the Isles in 2008 and is a Freshman at the University of Denver.  Donovan will turn 20 this spring.

He was profiled last week in FanHouse:

Hi, My Name Is ... Matt Donovan1
12/15/2009 3:00 PM ET By Bruce Ciskie
Bruce Ciskie is a FanHouse Blogger

Every Tuesday, FanHouse discusses the top NHL prospects found in college hockey.

Every once in a while, you end up hearing about a top freshman player in the college game. It's tough for the highly-touted to meet expectations. For Denver freshman defenseman Matt Donovan (NHL rights: N.Y. Islanders), it's clear that he is well on his way to surpassing the high expectations he brought with him to college.

The fourth-round pick from 2008 hails from Edmond, Okla., hardly a hotbed of hockey talent. Donovan played two seasons with Cedar Rapids (Iowa) of the United States Hockey League, and also has international experience with Team USA.

He played in 17 of Denver's 18 games over the first half of the season, scoring twice and adding seven assists. Those nine points rank him second overall among Denver's defensemen, and he is the highest-scoring freshman on the team so far.

His stock is only going to rise as he moves forward. Donovan was one of 11 defensemen on the preliminary roster for Team USA's entry in the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championships, which begin Dec. 26 in Saskatchewan.

If his play this past weekend during a series against Minnesota Duluth is any indication, one has to like his chances of making the final cut.

Donovan was a huge factor in Denver's weekend split against UMD, collecting two assists and rating as a plus-two. He moves the puck well, with a great first pass, and he has very good poise in his own zone. Donovan isn't terribly big, and he could use a bit more speed, but he has all the intangibles of a top offensive defenseman.

Already, his poise, vision, and passing skill make him a tough guy to forecheck. He'll only be more dangerous when he improves his skating.

Moving forward, Donovan has a great chance to play some high-level international hockey. The World Juniors are about as big as it gets for non-professional international events. Even if he doesn't make the team, Donovan should return to Denver a better player for the experience of trying out..

If he keeps getting better, Donovan will eventually have a chance to make an impact with the Islanders, a young team that is only going to improve as the young prospects develop.

Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog:
forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

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