After two years in the SHL, former New York Islanders defenseman Matt Donovan returns to North America on an AHL deal with the Milwaukee Admirals.
Matt Donovan, the New York Islanders’ fourth-round selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft (96th overall), is returning to North America after a two-year stint in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL).
Now 28-years-old, Donovan has signed an American Hockey League contract with the Nashville Predators’ affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. The contract is reportedly a one-year deal per Complete Hockey News.
Donovan has spent parts of five seasons in the AHL and parts of three seasons in the NHL with the Islanders.
Following his second season at the University of Denver, Donovan made his professional hockey debut, playing in six games with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, to conclude the 2010-11 season. He scored once and had five points in those six games.
Donovan was a regular in Bridgeport’s lineup the following season, scoring 10 goals and 45 points in 72 games as a defenseman. His first full season with the team resulted in him being elected to the 2012 AHL All-Rookie team.
Donovan received a well-deserved NHL call-up to play in the Islanders’ final three games of the 2011-12 season, making his debut on April 3 against the New Jersey Devils. His debut made him the first player born and raised in Oklahoma to play in the NHL.
The Edmond, Oklahoma native did even better the following season with 14 goals and 48 points in 75 games. He was selected to play in the 2013 AHL All-Star game and finished the season tied for the most points amongst AHL defensemen.
Donovan split the 2013-14 season with the Isles and Sound Tigers, putting up 21 points in 27 games with Bridgeport and two goals and 16 points in 52 games with New York. Donovan’s first NHL goal came on October 8, 2013, as he scored a power-play goal in a 6-1 win over the Phoenix (now named Arizona) Coyotes.
The 2014-15 campaign was Donovan’s final with the organization. He was on the Islanders’ roster for the entire season but he was a healthy scratch for most of it, only appearing in 12 games and recording three assists. Several injuries on the Isles’ blue-line forced him into action during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs and he held his own, playing on a shutdown, third-pairing with Scott Mayfield for the final two games against the Washington Capitals.
As a free agent, Donovan signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Buffalo Sabres and played the entire 2015-16 season with their AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans. Over the course of 73 games, he scored eight goals and 23 points for Rochester.
After the season Donovan went overseas, signing with Frölunda of the SHL. In two seasons with Frölunda, Donovan scored eight goals and 42 points in 102 games.