According to NHL.com’s Mike Morreale, Russian defenseman Yan Kuznetsov committed to the Huskies. After signing the most talented freshman class in program history in 2018, UConn men’s hockey continues to bring elite talent to Storrs.
Listed at 6-foot-4, Kuznetsov is a two-way defenseman that can skate well. He’s only 17 but it’s possible he could come to UConn as soon as this upcoming season. If not, Kuznetsov will be a member of the Huskies’ recruiting class of 2020.
Being so young, Kuznetsov isn’t eligible for the NHL until the 2020 Draft. However, most mock drafts slot him between the 13th and 30th best prospect for that year.
This past November, Kuznetsov competed in the U-17 World Hockey Challenge with Russia against some of the best prospects around the globe and was named a First Team All-Star for the tournament.
Kuznetsov currently plays with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL, where he played in 34 games with four assists to his credit before a wrist injury cut his season short.
Even if Kuznetsov doesn’t come to Storrs for this season, UConn’s class of 2019 is already shaping up to be elite. According to Central Scouting, a website that ranks all hockey prospects (not just those going to college), three members of the Huskies’ incoming class rank in the top-160.
The headliner is Russian forward Vladislav Firstov, who sits at No. 23 for all 2019 prospects. Next is Czech forward Matej Blümel, who comes in at No. 150. Meanwhile, Carter Berger, a defenseman from Vancouver, Canada, ranks seven spots behind Blümel at No. 157.
UConn is entering its sixth year of Hockey East play and continues to increase the talent level. Despite a slow start to last season, the Huskies finished strong down the stretch, winning five of their last eight games, including victories against No. 13 Northeastern and No. 2 UMass — the latter of whom went on the the national title game.
Mike Cavanaugh and his staff are getting the legitimate talent needed to compete with the Hockey East elite. Now we’ll see if UConn can start turning that talent into wins.