It’s not that often that you see a player go from the NCAA to the AHL to the CHL, but that’s exactly what’s about to happen for Yan Kuznetsov. The Calgary Flames prospect has been loaned to the Saint John Seadogs of the QMJHL after 12 games with the Stockton Heat this season.
Kuznetsov, 19, was the 50th overall pick in the 2020 draft after his freshman year at the University of Connecticut, and he returned in 2020-21 for his sophomore season. After the college campaign ended, he signed his entry-level deal with the Flames and suited up six times down the stretch for Stockton. The 6’4″ defenseman has failed to register a single point in 18 games for the Heat overall and will now get to test himself at the junior level, something that will only help develop his overall game.
Notably, he’ll be available for Russia at the World Juniors again, which would be his second time at the tournament, and also will likely play in the Memorial Cup given it is set to be hosted in Saint John this season. A trade could potentially change that obviously, but Kuznetsov will spend the rest of the year in the CHL competing against players his age.
Selected 22nd overall in the 2021 CHL Import Draft, this was always a possibility for the big defenseman. Saint John picked him after he already made his AHL debut, meaning they had an inkling he could end up back in junior at some point. He’s joining a team that is currently 12-8-3 on the year and in eighth place in the QMJHL standings, but still has big expectations. He’s also going to be joining fellow Calgary draft picks Jeremie Poirier and Ryan Francis, the latter of whom also made his AHL debut with the Heat last season before he returned to Saint John.