The UConn men's hockey team got a nice present Aug. 3. Already boasting a talented freshman class for the 2015-16 season, Mike Cavanaugh added Russian forward Maxim Letunov to the team.
Letunov, a second-round pick of the St. Louis Blues in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, was supposed to go to Boston University this fall. When that fell through, UConn was there, and Letunov—now a prospect of the Arizona Coyotes—liked what the Huskies had to offer.
"I think the biggest thing is the coaching staff," Letunov said at UConn's media day Tuesday. "What they did with the team last year, I think they did really well. And just, again, really nice recruits here."
Letunov joins the Huskies after two seasons with the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL. He was the Phantoms' second-leading scorer in 2014-15, registering 25 goals and 39 assists (64 points) in 58 games.
With the addition of Letunov, UConn's stellar class gained even more respect. SB Nation's Jeff Cox ranked the Huskies' freshman class No. 3 in Hockey East, behind only Boston College and Boston University. UConn was No. 9 in his December ranking.
In Cox's evaluation, he lists Letunov as the potential impact player. From Cox:
"Out of the four big name members of the freshman class, Letunov stands out. He has a chance to be a game changer and provide serious offensive punch, something that Cavanaugh's team clearly needed at times last year."
Letunov will get his first action for the Huskies Saturday, when UConn takes on Queens University from Kingston, Ontario. With the sudden change in his recruitment—and, of course, being a freshman on a college campus—Letunov is still trying to adjust, but he is excited to be a Husky.
"Obviously, I was committed to Boston University and I thought I was going to go there," Letunov said. "But it happened really quick, but I’m just glad to be here, and I think we’re going to have an exciting year."