UConn men’s hockey is looking to reload after the most successful season in program history, led by a nine-member senior class. On Monday, the Huskies secured a player who could contribute right away in Russia native Ruslan Iskhakov.
The Huskies lost six forwards from last season’s fifth-place Hockey East team, including fellow Russian Maxim Letunov. As the No. 31-rated international skater by NHL Central Scouting, Iskhakov is well-regarded as a member of Russia’s U-18 team.
Scouts say that Iskhakov’s best skill is his speed and skating ability and he has shown the ability to be a playmaker, grabbing 24 assists in 33 games for CSKA 2 in the Russian Junior League as a 17-year-old. He also had 11 points (6-5—11) in 14 games for the Russian U-18 team in international play.
The left-handed center is slight, at 5-foot-8 and 152 pounds, but is built similarly to alternate captain Max Kalter ( 5-foot-8, 160 pounds) and former UConn speedster Corey Ronan (5-foot-8, 190 pounds).
Iskhakov is the 14th player to pledge to join the Huskies for 2018-19 and is part of Neutral Zone’s No. 2 freshman class behind only Minnesota. Jachym Kondelik, who is the No. 48-ranked North American skater, could also be drafted before he comes to UConn.
The class also has two 2017 NHL draftees in Kale Howarth (fifth round, No. 148 overall to Columbus) and goaltender Tomas Vomacka (fifth round, No. 154 overall to Nashville).