Philip Nyberg, a defenseman currently playing in the USHL for the Madison Capitols, flipped his commitment from Wisconsin to UConn on Dec. 11. The UConn Blog has confirmed that he will be enrolling at UConn for spring semester and joining the men’s hockey team shortly.
Nyberg could play for the Huskies as early as the Desert Hockey Classic, depending on the timing of the Swede’s visa approval.
He was a fifth-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft who currently has two goals to go along with six assists in 23 games for the Capitols, tied for 22nd among defenseman in the USHL.
The 6-foot-4 Nyberg is also disciplined, with only 16 penalty minutes on the year. While UConn is one of the least penalized teams in the nation—boasting the 10th-fewest penalty minutes per game at 11.89—the Huskies’ two most penalized players and three of their top four are defensemen.
This addition will provide the Huskies with a second right-handed shot on defense. Of the eight defensemen currently on the roster, freshman Wyatt Newpower is the only other right-handed shooter on the team.
The most obvious problem this creates is that, on offense, players playing the off side must play pucks along the boards with their backhand. It’s much less efficient than playing them on the forehand, a problem similar to what left-handed infielders face in baseball.
Perhaps on a related note, senior defenseman Joona Kunnas tweeted that he is leaving the program. Kunnas has a pro option in the Finnish Elite Program and will pursue his professional ambitions there. He is from Vantaa, Finland, amassing 25 points (5-20—25) in 92 career games for UConn. He last played on November 11 against Ohio State and played in only eight of 18 games so far this season.
UConn Men’s Hockey is currently on a long break just about halfway through its season. The Huskies will be in action next on Friday, Dec. 30 in the start of the Desert Hockey Classic in Arizona.