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2023 FlamesNation prospect rankings: #17 Yan Kuznetsov

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Photo credit:Candice Ward/Calgary Wranglers
Paige Siewert
7 months ago
Yan Kuznetsov has been in the AHL system for a few years now but really made his splash last season. It was his first year as an AHL regular playing 63 out of a possible 72 games in the regular season. He was commonly a part of the Calgary Wranglers’ third defensive pairing, often joined by Nicolas Meloche. Later in the season and into playoffs, his partners would rotate with other defensive depth players they had at their disposal like Josh Brook and Kristians Rubins. The FlamesNation team placed Kuznetsov a little lower than last year, coming in at 17th in the prospect rankings. 
Yan Kuznetsov
Left-handed defenceman
Born March 9, 2002 (21 years old) in Murkansk, Russia
6’4”, 209 lbs
Drafted in the second round (50th overall) by Calgary in 2020
When you play more games, typically you put up more points. So by no surprise, Kuznetsov’s last season with the Calgary Wranglers was the best of his pro career so far. It was a large season of growth for a player that only got a dozen games in the AHL in 2021-22 before being sent to the QMJHL to play with the Saint John Sea Dogs early in the season. 
Maybe Kuznetsov wasn’t ready for a full-time AHL job but whatever he did developing in the QMJHL and in the off-season last summer, certainly prepared him for the workload of being a regular blueliner.  A regular blueliner for the best team in his league that is. Kuznetsov earned 19 points in the regular season with five goals and 14 assists. He had 30 PIMs and finished the year with a +3 rating. 
In the playoffs, Kuznetsov played about exactly half of both series. He skated in two of the Abbotsford games and three of the Coachella Valley games. In his five post-season appearances, he put up two points with assists in his first and last game. Not bad considering the teams they were facing were pretty physical in these playoff series.
Kuznetsov’s confidence has definitely risen since his debut with the Stockton Heat in their modified “bubble” season back in 2020-21. He has worked his way into a role on this team very well and brought a leadership presence to the Flames’ development camp last month. He has good players around him like Jeremie Poirier, Nick DeSimone and Ilya Solovyov to skate with at practice, so I imagine this is just the beginning of the strides he will make in his career. 

Expectations for 2023-24

Kuznetsov enters the last year of his entry-level contract in the 2023-24 season and will be joining the Wranglers for his fourth season with the organization this fall.
If he is healthy all year, I’d like Kuznetsov to have a personal goal to play in every single game with the Wranglers next season (if that isn’t a goal already). He didn’t miss much last year but he should cement himself as a player that is not even an option when it comes to lineup changes. He should be the guy the lineup changes around.
It is apparent there are other skilled guys ahead of him, but rather than stay complacent, this may be the best time for him to do everything in his power to keep up. Learn from the guys ahead of you while you are still teammates. He has somewhat of a clean slate with a new coach too. He has to prove his worth and earn his playing time all over again.

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