The Islanders Informer
by William Morrison on 09/23/11 at 09:51 AM ET
Andy Baggot, who covers University of Wisconsin hockey for the Wisconsin State Journal, took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for TII on New York Islanders prospect Jason Clark, who is entering is sophomore season at the University of Wisconsin. Clark was selected in the 3rd round by the Islanders in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Read after the jump for the full interview.
WM: Jason only played in 14 games in his freshman season because of a hip injury that required two surgeries over the summer. Is Clark fully healthy heading into his sophomore season?
AB: According to Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves, Clark will be good to go when practice officially begins Oct. 1.
WM: In 14 games in his freshman season, Jason recorded 1 assist against Minnesota Duluth. What do you project Clark to do this season on a good Wisconsin team?
AB: I expect Clark to eventually challenge for a spot among the top six forwards. That means quality minutes and a role on the power play.
WM: What do you think Jason will improve upon most from his freshman to sophomore seasons?
AB: His top priority should be to stay healthy.
WM: At 6’2”, 185 pounds, do you think Clark is physically ready to play in the NHL?
AB: Clark has a good frame, but it’s my experience that players his age need at least two years of sustained involvement in a strength and conditioning program before they can realistically make the jump to the pros. Wisconsin has one of the best coaches in this regard. Jim Snider has turned down opportunities in the NHL to work in Madison. More than a dozen former players now in the pros come back to work with Jim every summer.
WM: Which of UW’s lines will Clark play on this season? Who will he play with?
AB: That’s to be determined. Being among the top six forwards will put Clark with some high-grade line mates.
WM: Do you think Jason will stay all four years at UW? If not, when do you expect he will turn pro?
AB: Tough question to answer. I’ve learned over the years that you just never know because so many forces are at work. The family and agent may have an agenda. The NHL team that drafted him may have a plan that conflicts with the four-year window. I’ve seen players leave here too early: Kyle Turris and Jack Skille are examples of this. I’ve also seen players leave early and surprise everyone with how quickly they adapted to the NHL: Joe Pavelski and Derek Stepan are examples of this.
WM: How do you see Jason’s talent translating to the NHL in terms of skill, physical ability, and size?
AB: Clark appears to have all the tools. A key development with Eaves is determining how big the tool box actually is. If Clark stays healthy, we should get some major insights in this area this season.
WM: How do you think playing in such a great conference as the WCHA will help Clark prepare for the NHL?
AB: The WCHA in its current form is, top to bottom, the most demanding college league. I’ve had multiple NHL people insist it’s a better proving ground than the AHL.
WM: The Badgers held their first full practice last Thursday. How did Jason look?
AB: Practice doesn’t officially begin until Oct. 1, but the Badgers have conducted several 40-minute, NCAA-approved instructional sessions with coaches as well as a series of captains’ practices without coaches. Given his health issues, the fact Clark has participated is huge.
For my write up on the Islanders NCAA prospects including Jason Clark, click here.
Follow Andy on Twitter @AndyBaggotWSJ
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Welcome to The Islanders Informer. TII will be a forum for discussion, debate, and both Islander and hockey related news.
I'm an attorney by day and hockey fan by night. I'm always open to feedback, suggestions, agreements, disagreements, opinions, and discussion.