Whoever decided to take these partially in-the-dark pics knew what they were doing.
The 2010 NHL Draft has already set two records, in having the most Americans (59) drafted overall and a record 22 High School players among the 59. While the buzz was about the players coming into the league from non-traditional markets, it was the Islanders who twice went to one of the most traditional wells of American hockey. Of the two Minnesota youths, Jason Clark comes to the Islanders from highly regarded Shattuck-St Mary's and was one of three players drafted from the school this year. He put up 23 goals and 23 assists last year after a 44 point campaign the previous year and is joining Wisconsin next year.
I had the good fortune to be able to ask Jason a few questions. I wanted to say when we talk about the Islanders making choices based on character, talking to Jason you can tell exactly what that means. He comes off as an all around good kid, even referring to me by Mr (last name here) and taking me a bit off guard. He was even excited to read this interview when it was put up and made sure to mention to me to send him a message when it was posted. Enough of me rambling on, the interview is after the cut.
LHH: Have you ever been to New York?
Jason Clark: Prior to camp right now, I had been to New York two times, one on family vacation and last year I was visiting my friend who lives here in NYC.
LHH: How do you describe your game?
JC: My game is primarily offensive, I think I'm pretty equal as far as being a set up guy and goal scorer. My biggest offensive threat is my hockey sense and my physicality. In my own end I am accountable though, after going to Shattuck and playing for Coach Ward he really taught me how to be the two way player I have became today.
LHH: What led you to choose Wisconsin?
JC: I chose Wisconsin because I love the Midwest and I love the city of Madison. The coaches are also top notch and the hockey program is unbelievable. I thought it was undeniable because of how badly they actually needed a big forward like myself, to come in this year and carry a big role for the team as an offensive threat right away as a freshman.
LHH: Favorite Music?
JC: My favorite music is hip hop, rock and roll and alternative. I love Akon, Drake, Lil Wayne, Nickelback and Rise Against.
LHH: With the Islanders taking two Minnesota High School kids, did you know their scouts were around/looking at you?
JC: I actually knew my whole time at Shattuck that NHL scouts were always present at our games just because it's such a successful hockey developmental program, and because of Coach Ward's more than impressive reputation throughout the hockey world. During my senior year was when I started to realize I was really getting looked at because I would be asked to meet with scouts after games, and do some interviews over the phone.
LHH: Ever played with/against Brock Nelson? Any thoughts about him?
JC: I played against Brock throughout the Elite League, and am for the first time playing with Brock right now at camp. I really couldn't be more impressed with his hands, and his skating is top notch. It will be real fun to learn from him this week and exchange thoughts to each other since we are on the same team. He is a wonderful friend and I look forward to hopefully playing alongside him in an Islanders jersey down the road.
* * *
I can't thank Jason enough for talking. I got in touch with him in a roundabout way and he didn't need to talk to me at all. If it was a little short, you can blame me for that as I didn't want to pepper him with a ton of questions and this was also my first time interviewing anyone. I can't help but hope for the best for him, no matter what he ends up doing. For those wondering about his hockey future, it sounds like he is going to get a lot of time from the start which is uncommon for freshman in big programs. Not only that, but the big programs tend to want young players to play in the USHL for a year. The last few years as an Islander fan have been getting brighter, and Jason Clark is one of those players who make the future look very promising.