After starring on the ice at the XL Center as one of UConn hockey’s first elite recruits, Maxim Letunov finally got his shot in the NHL this week after being called up by the San Jose Sharks.
Letunov, who was originally drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft by the St. Louis Blues, had his rights traded to the Arizona Coyotes while he was at UConn before the Sharks acquired him in 2016.
At UConn, the Moscow, Russia native was hyped up as a big-time recruit and chose the Huskies late in the recruiting process after being unable to get admitted into Boston University. Letunov lived up to the hype immediately, scoring 40 points as a freshman and setting freshmen records for goals (16) and assists (24) on the way to being named to the 2015-16 Hockey East All-Rookie Team. He’d tack on another 19 goals and 36 assists over his next two seasons at UConn, earning Hockey East Second All-Star honors in both of those seasons before turning pro after the 2017-18 season.
In his first pro season, Letunov tallied 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in 57 games with the San Jose Barracuda. This year, Letunov has already bested his numbers from his first pro season, racking up 10 goals and 20 assists in just 39 games.
Letunov made his NHL debut Tuesday, Feb. 4 against the Calgary Flames, playing 10 minutes in 13 shifts and registering one shot. On Thursday, Letunov recorded his first-ever NHL goal in the second period of his second NHL game, scoring off a rebound against the Edmonton Oilers.
After the game, Letunov got a picture with the puck from his first career goal, an NHL tradition for first-time scorers.
With Letunov’s former teammate Tage Thompson out for the season with a shoulder injury, Letunov is the only former Husky in the NHL at the moment. But based on head coach Mike Cavanaugh’s success recruiting and the amount of draft picks the program is producing, more of Letunov’s teammates might soon be following his footsteps.