On Friday, UConn announced that rising senior defenseman Joe Masonius would forego his senior season and instead sign an amateur tryout (ATO) with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL as well as an AHL contract for the 2018-19 season.
Wilkes-Barre begins a best-of-five playoff series with Charlotte in North Carolina on Friday night and Masonius’ ATO will run for the entirety of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s postseason run. The New Jersey native was a sixth-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2016.
In his UConn career, Masonius scored 50 points (10-40—50) in 96 games. He is the fourth defenseman to depart this offseason, along with Johnny Austin, David Drake and Derek Pratt, who each will graduate in May.
Masonius was a solid point producer on the back end, leading defensemen in points in his freshman and sophomore campaigns, before Austin eclipsed him in 2017-18.
UConn has just four returning defensemen. Three of them, Adam Karashik, Wyatt Newpower, and Philip Nyberg, played in fewer than 30 of the Huskies’ 36 contests last season, with Newpower and Nyberg often rotating depending on who was playing better. The only other blue-liner on the roster, next season’s captain Miles Gendron, was on the ice for all but three games, except he spent most of the year playing forward.
The defense will now be leaning much more heavily on its youth. According to Neutral Zone, the Huskies are only bringing in three defensemen as part of the 2018 class, which means there will be less depth than there was last year, unless head coach Mike Cavanaugh can bring someone else in.