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Casey Cizikas: "I couldn't be happier to be an Islander."

Cizikas, the Isles' fourth-round pick from 2009, signed on the last day before he would return to the amateur draft pool.

Of course, he's been busy.

"It's been a hectic year for sure," Cizikas told me a few minutes ago, just after the Islanders announced the Missisauga St. Mike's center had signed a three-year, entry-level deal. "But it's only the second day since the season ended and I miss playing already."

Cizikas went to Canada's World Junior team camp last summer, and it's been nonstop ever since: He captained Missisauga St. Mike's to a 53-13-2 record in the OHL, was part of the silver-medal winning World Junior team after Christmas, led the Majors to the OHL final -- they lost, 3-2, in overtime of Game 7 to Owen Sound -- and then to the Memorial Cup final, where they lost, 3-1, on Sunday to Saint John of the QMJHL.

That is a ton of hockey, but the 20-year-old is still as eager as ever to get his pro career going.

"This is the team that took a chance on me and I'm so excited to get there and get going," Cizikas said. "I've gotten to know some of the guys from the camps I've been to the last couple of years, and there's a lot of great young talent. They're building for something big."

Cizikas was sentenced to a year's probation two summers ago after a play in a rugby match in Ontario resulted in the death of 15-year-old Manny Castillo, and the aftermath of the incident weighed on Cizikas during his post-draft season.

But two years later, while never forgetting the incident, Cizikas has matured to the point where Missisauga coach Dave Cameron gave Cizikas the 'C' for this big season.

"I think being captain will definitely help with what's coming next," Cizikas said. "I'll never forget this year of hockey."



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