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Jason Clark Leaves Wisconsin, Signs Rookie Deal with Islanders

Clark strikes the signature 2010 NHL Draft pose.
Clark strikes the signature 2010 NHL Draft pose.

Tuesday brought the slow and steady leak of a rather unexpected nature: Jason Clark is leaving the University of Wisconsin after two seasons, and has signed an entry level contract with the New York Islanders.

Clark had actually tweeted hints of such a departure late Monday night, though the next destination was unclear at that point: As Wisconsin blog Bucky's 5th Quarter noted, his CHL rights are owned by the WHL Portland Winterhawks.

Word came this afternoon that the departure was official and indeed an entry level deal was reached, which means he'll be in an ever-younger mix fighting for a forward spot with the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2012-13.

It's a move Islanders followers wouldn't have seen coming because although Clark was a 2010 draft pick (82nd overall), as an NCAA player his rights were not due for expiration any time soon. Furthermore, the Minnesota native's stats at Wisconsin weren't much to write home about (two assists in 35 games spanning his freshman and sophomore seasons), and in fact his college career thus far was hindered by two hip surgeries among other injuries.

But Clark told Bucky's 5th Quarter today that his hips are "100 percent," and he had to follow his heart in what was apparently a tough, carefully considered decision.

Clearly the Islanders still see something promising in him, perhaps influenced by another look at him at last month's prospect development camp. For now, just know Clark clears 6'2", shoots left, and has plenty of developing to do to reach his NHL dream. Now he'll be doing that development under the Islanders' watch.

Tangentially related: Here was an LHH Q&A with Clark after his selection a couple of years ago. Initial FanShot discussion of this ELC news is here.