Colorado College senior defenseman Jack Hillen signed a two-year contract with the New York Islanders Tuesday.
Hillen, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association defensive player of the year, is expected make his NHL debut Thursday and Friday in the Islanders’ final two games, a home-and-home series with the New York Rangers.
“I’m pretty excited and nervous,” said Hillen, who took a red-eye flight to New York Monday and was in New York to watch the Islanders take on the New Jersey Devils Tuesday. “I don’t quite know what to expect. But I’m just really happy with my decision to be part of the Islanders organization and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun in this next week getting used to some things and doing whatever I need to do next year to get back to the highest level. Who knows what’s going to happen, but I’m just happy to be here right now.”
As the nation’s top-scoring defenseman, Hillen finished second among all Tigers’ scorers with six goals and 31 assists. Hillen was also named first-team All-WCHA.
“Our whole staff is very excited for him,” CC coach Scott Owens said. “It’s nice to see a player be rewarded for doing it the right way. In four years, he put in his time. He improved, he developed, he had a great senior year and then he had the opportunity to sign a pro contract. ...We’re thrilled.”
Hillen will see a familiar face when he skates for the first time with the Islanders today. Former Minnesota forward Kyle Okposo made headlines when he gave up his final two-and-a-half seasons of eligibility in December to sign with the Islanders.
"We are very proud that Jack made the decision to join the Islanders," general manager Garth Snow said in a statement. "He was one of the prized college free agents for good reason. He is an excellent puck-moving defenseman and our scouting staff is really impressed by his competitive spirit.”