The Islanders have agreed to terms with 20-year-old defenseman Aaron Ness on an entry-level deal to begin the 2011-12 season.
The deal, first reported by Newsday, was agreed to in principle Wednesday two days after reports surfaced that Ness would forego his senior season at the University of Minnesota. Ness notified the Gophers coaching staff of his decision before commencing discussions with the Islanders.
Ness will report to the team's AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers and play on an Amateur Tryout.
The 2008 second-round draft pick had two goals and 12 assists in 35 games for the Gophers this season. He is the second Islanders prospect to leave the program over the last three seasons.
Kyle Okposo left Minnesota during his sophomore season in December 2007, electing to sign with the Islanders and begin his professional career. At the time, Islanders GM Garth Snow expressed his lack of confidence in Minnesota's program and their ability to develop Okposo.
"It's definitely a tough decision. It's a hard thing to leave a team and take that next step in your life. But this is a turning point in his career and I'm really happy for him," Okposo told Newsday when informed about Ness' choice.
Speaking about his own transition from college to pro hockey, Okposo said Ness should expect some bumps along the way.
"It's going to be rocky at times, but once you get in the swing of things, you get more comfortable," he said. "But this is a great team, a great organization and a great group of guys. We're happy to have him."