Matt Donovan is building a case for his defense.
Donovan appears to be one of the favorites to make the New York Islanders after two impressive seasons at their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, CT. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound lefty has compiled 24 goals and 93 points in that time as a Sound Tiger.
Considering the Islanders lost one of their best offensive D-men in club history when captain Mark Streit signed with the Flyers this past offseason – the opportunity seems clear.
“I had a good development year in Bridgeport,” Donovan said after Wednesday morning’s practice session at Nassau Coliseum. “I’ve been known for putting up points and playing offensively.”
Now, Donovan said, he wants to be known more for what he can do without the puck. In fact, he said he will be focused more on playing good defense than anything else over the next few preseason games, including Friday night (7 p.m.) against Nashville.
“I just want to prove that I can play solid ‘D’ at the NHL level and that’s kind of what I’m concentrating on right now,” Donovan said. “I think that’s kind of what they’re looking at.”
Offensive defensemen who have had a productive history, can sometimes worry more about their offense and continue to try and dazzle others with their moves, shots and passes.
Not Donovan. At 23 years old, he knows that’s a strength already and that Coach Jack Capuano and his staff already are aware of what he can do with the puck in an offensive situation. So for Donovan to make the team, he’s thinking defense.
“It’s playing body and playing physical, and I think that kind of helps get me into the game a little quicker,” Donovan said. “That’s kind of what I’m going to concentrate on.”
So far, things are progressing well for him. That progression is showing itself in who he’s practicing with these days – veteran Bryan Strait.
“I’m practicing with the big guys now,” Donovan said. “I think it’s good so far.”