Gophers' Okposo Signs Contract With Islanders
One month after telling reporters, "I'm
back," regarding a goal-scoring drought, Minnesota
forward Kyle Okposo is gone. He signed a professional contract
with the New York Islanders and will join that organization
following the completion of the World Junior Championships
where he will be playing for the United States.
Okposo was the Islanders’ first-round
draft choice and the seventh player taken overall in the
2006 entry draft. He is the eighth Minnesota player to leave
college early for the professional ranks since the end of
the 2005-06 season. Okposo is departing today for the Czech
Republic as a member of the United States ’ under-20
national team that is competing at the International Ice
Hockey Federation world championships and will join the
Islanders following the tournament.
“While I’m disappointed Kyle is
leaving at this point of the season, his dream has been
to play pro hockey,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said.
“It is unfortunate that the Islanders put him in a
very difficult position. I think our team has made strides
the last few weeks and I’m looking forward to the
second half of the season.”
A St. Paul native who attended Shattuck St.
Mary’s in Faribault , Minn., Okposo burst onto the
collegiate scene last season with 19 goals and 21 assists
in 40 games as a freshman. He earned second-team All-WCHA
honors and was named to the league’s All-Rookie Team.
Amid speculation that he would leave for the NHL after his
freshman season, Okposo announced on June 6 that he would
return to the Gophers.
"He sent us all an email this morning
just letting us know what he was doing," said Gophers
junior forward Blake Wheeler. "We just wish him the
Okposo had a slow start to the 2007-08 season
with an eight-game scoreless streak after a three-point
game in the season opener against Rensselaer . He scored
points in six of the last nine games, totaling seven goals
and four assists over the team’s first 18 games as
Minnesota currently owns a 9-8-1 record.
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