Preds add defensive depth, sign Jack Hillen to two-way deal…

Preds press release (new)

The Nashville Predators have signed defenseman Jack Hillen to a one-year, two-way deal.

Hillen, 25, spent the last four seasons in the New York Islanders organization, only visiting the AHL level once. In 175 NHL games, he’s tallied 50 points which, given the Islanders lack of success, is saying quite a bit. Matter of fact, the undrafted Minnetonka, Minnesota native was their 10th leading scorer last season with 22 points.

Islanders blogger Dee Karl gave us the lowdown on Hillen, saying “He is very intelligent and has a unique skating style. He was a little inconsistent last year due to injuries and a new baby… I really thought he had a future on this team… Garth (Snow) thought very highly of him when he signed him but he has a plan and sometimes even really good guys don’t quite fit (with) what he intends to do.”

Brett Lebda, who the Preds got from Toronto in the Matthew Lombardi/Cody Franson trade, will probably be bought out soon because it’s believed he never really had a shot at the Preds roster anyway. Tyler Sloan, and now Hillen, will be fighting it out for a blueline spot in Music City this upcoming season.

The full official press release is below.

***

NASHVILLE PREDATORS SIGN DEFENSEMAN JACK HILLEN

 Nashville, Tenn. (August 8, 2011) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed defenseman Jack Hillen to a one-year, two-way contract worth $650,000 at the NHL level and $105,000 at the AHL level.

Hillen, 25 (1/24/86), spent his first three professional seasons with the New York Islanders, most recently establishing career highs in goals (4) and points (22) while tying a personal best in assists (18) in 2010-11. The 5-10, 190-pound blueliner also ranked second on last season’s Islanders’ squad with 137 blocked shots in 64 games. In 175 career NHL contests, Hillen has 50 points (8g-42a) and 109 penalty minutes.

A native of Minnetonka, Minn., Hillen played four years at Colorado College (2004-08), highlighted by a senior season that named WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, WCHA Scholar Athlete of the Year and a First-Team All-American. Signed as a free agent by the Islanders on April 1, 2008, Hillen represented the United States at the 2010 World Championships, posting one assist in six games.

PHOTO CREDIT: ShutterSpeak // Flickr (permission pending)