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UConn men’s hockey: Yan Kuznetsov signs entry-level contract with Calgary Flames

The Huskies lose one of their top defensemen to the pros.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey defenseman Yan Kuznetsov has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames, thus ending his collegiate career.

A native of Murmansk, Russia, Kuznetsov was a second round pick (50th overall) of the Flames in the 2020 NHL Draft. He came to Storrs as one of the youngest players in college hockey at just 17 years old and still played in every game while amassing two goals and nine assists as a freshman.

Kuznetsov missed a significant portion of his sophomore season while away with Team Russia at the World Juniors Championship. He played in just 16 games and finished with one goal and five assists on the year.

“I think for sure he’s gonna play for a long time in the NHL,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said about Kuznetsov this past December.

The Huskies were prepared for Kuznetsov’s decision to leave. They’ll return six defensemen — rising senior Ryan Wheeler, juniors Carter Berger, Jake Flynn, Roman Kinal, and Harrison Rees, as well as sophomore John Spetz — and add Jack Pascucci, a 6-foot-2 blueliner out of North Andover, Massachusetts.

Aside from Kuznetsov, the only other NHL Draft pick on UConn’s roster who could leave early is goaltender Tomas Vomacka, who was a fifth-round pick of the Nashville Predators in 2017. He recently underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus, so he’s not expected to make a decision anytime soon. The Huskies are expecting everybody else to return.