A bit of Calgary Flames prospect news broke on Thursday morning. The Flames have assigned defenseman Yan Kuznetsov to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Saint John Sea Dogs from the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat.
The 19-year-old Kuznetsov was Calgary’s second round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and was signed to an entry level contract at the end of his sophomore season at the University of Connecticut last spring. He was selected by the Sea Dogs in the CHL Import Draft. He’s been playing with the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat so far this season, posting zero points in 12 games playing primarily with a mixture of Colton Poolman and Ilya Solovyov on the third pairing.
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Saint John is hosting the Memorial Cup tournament this season, and Kuznetsov joins a strong team that already includes Flames prospects Ryan Francis and Jeremie Poirier. Under the NHL’s agreement with the CHL, Kuznetsov cannot return to the AHL until the end of his junior team’s season… which won’t be until the end of the Memorial Cup in June. So he’s there for the long haul, and adds a formidable two-way presence to what’s already a very good QMJHL team.
Kuznetsov’s departure leaves seven defenders on Stockton’s roster. His entry level contract will burn a year this season no matter where he’s playing, but at least now he’ll get a lot of minutes per game and play into June (giving him invaluable developmental time).