#21 - Yan Kuznetsov
Team: University of Connecticut (NCAA), Stockton Heat (AHL)
Stats: 1G, 5A, 6 points in 16 games, 0G, 0A, 0 points in 6 games
Drafted in Round 2, 50th Overall in the 2020 Draft
2020 Ranking: #29 (+8)
Kuznetsov comes in as one of the largest risers on our list, as he moves from a best of the rest spot into nearly the top 20, and it’s more than deserved. While I’m still not convinced that his name isn’t a computer generated mash-up 4 seasons deep in franchise mode on NHL 21, it’s becoming evident that he is potentially the Flames top defensive prospect at this point.
And defensive he is. At no point will anyone confuse him for a top-pairing point producing defenceman, but his intelligent and efficient style of play seems to have him destined for the NHL. This of course is all wrapped up inside a massive 6 foot 4 frame which all together portray this kid as the ideal blueprint of an elite shutdown defenceman.
After playing at UConn at just 17 years of age, the Flames took him in the second round of the 2020 draft. He completed his sophomore season in 2020-21 and was promptly signed to an entry-level contract by the Flames on March 30th. He suited up for 6 games with the Heat to finish off the year, and to top it all off, was drafted 22nd overall by the Saint John Sea Dogs in the CHL import draft. That team coincidentally features two prospects that will appear higher on this list.
This gives him the option of potentially making the full time move to professional hockey with the Stockton Heat (AHL) or Kansas City Mavericks (ECHL), but the Flames can also have him develop further in junior hockey. Since he signed his ELC, he cannot return to UConn or the NCAA.
What do you think of Kuznetsov’s ranking?
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