Denver sophomore defenseman Matt Donovan has signed an entry-level NHL contract with the New York Islanders, who took him in the fourth round (No. 98) in the 2008 draft.

"We wish Matt continued success in professional hockey," Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky said. "Matt was a very dynamic defenseman who helped us win a lot of games in two seasons."

Donovan, of Edmond, Okla., will report to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL for the rest of this season. Also on that team is Aaron Ness, the former Gophers defenseman. Ness, a junior, signed with the Islanders four days after the U of M's season ended.

Donovan was a WCHA second team pick this season. He had nine goals and 23 assists for 32 points, which ranked fourth among WCHA defensemen in points.

He is the 14th underclassmen to turn pro early in Gwozdecky's 17 seasons as DU coach.

Here's the complete list:

After 2010 season, Marc Cheverie, Joe Colborne and Patrick Wiercioch

2009, Tyler Bozak

2008, Chris Butler and Brock Trotter

2007, Geoff Paukovich and Ryan Dingle

2006, Paul Stastny and Matt Carle

2005, Brett Skinner

2000, Mark Rycroft

1999, Matt Pettinger

Boxak, Butler, Carle, Stastny and Wiercioch are currently playing in the NHL


Rhett Rakhshani, who was a senior at DU last season, is Bridgeport's top scorer with 20 goal and 35 assists for 55 points in 62 games. He had 10 power play goals.

Ness has one power-play goal -- and 10 shots on net -- in seven games with the Tigers.

Bridgeport is seventh, or last, in the seven-team Atlantic Division with 26 wins, 34 losses, four overtime losses and seven shootout losses for 63 points.