Isles ink O’Marra, send him to Sound Tigers

The New York Islanders have signed center Ryan O’Marra, their 2005 first-round draft pick and a member of the gold medal-winning Team Canada at this year’s World Junior Championships, to a three-year contract.

The 18-year old O’Marra, the 15th pick overall in last summer’s draft, has been assigned to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to begin his professional career.

"Ryan is arguably our top prospect not currently with the big club," said Islanders general manager Mike Milbury. "He is a very well-rounded player who is going to be a big part of our future."

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound O’Marra was the second-leading scorer for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League in 2005-06. In 61 games, O’Marra scored 27 goals and added 50 assists for 77 points, adding 134 penalty minutes.

At the World Junior Championships in December, O’Marra had two assists and 18 penalty minutes in six games for Team Canada.

"It’s so great to have the contract done early so I can begin playing for Bridgeport," O’Marra said today. "I’m anxious to get on the ice with the Sound Tigers and show them what I can do."

O’Marra’s signing means that the Islanders’ last five first-round picks are progessing in the organization at the NHL or AHL level: Rick DiPietro (2000), Sean Bergenheim (2002), Robert Nilsson (2003), Petteri Nokelainen (2004) and O’Marra (2005).

O’Marra practiced with the Sound Tigers Thursday morning at Bridgeport’s Arena at Harbor Yard and will join the team on a trip to Philadelphia to begin a three-game-in-three-night weekend.

The Sound Tigers have also announced the release of center Mike Omicioli and defenseman Mario Larocque from their professional tryout contracts.