Coveted Czuczman Opts for Islanders

The NCAA standout picked Long Island as his NHL destination.

Tuesday, 03.11.2014 / 4:43 PM ET / News
By Cory Wright
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Coveted Czuczman Opts for Islanders
The NCAA standout picked Long Island as his NHL destination.

The New York Islanders added another defenseman to their young, talented stable, signing Lake Superior State University standout Kevin Czuczman to a two-year, entry-level deal on Tuesday.

Czuczman, a 6’3, 205 lbs. 23-year-old, is coming off a career year for the LSSU Lakers and will report to the Islanders directly. The Port Elgin, ON, native set new highs in goals (10) and points (21) as a junior, while tying a previous high with 11 assists. Czuczman’s 10 goals led all Western Collegiate Hockey Association Defensemen and he nearly doubled his total offensive output from his sophomore season. The newest Islander finished his NCAA career with 45 points (14 goals, 31 assists) in 114 games.

“It’s been a life-long dream,” Czuczman said after signing his first professional contract. “I’ve devoted my life to the game and it’s nice for it to finally pay off.”

As a free agent, Czuczman was in control of his NHL destination and opted to sign with the Islanders. Czuczman said his familiarity with the team – he trains with John Tavares, Ryan Strome and Casey Cizikas in the offseason – and Lake Superior State alum Doug Weight made it an easy decision.

“My comfort with New York was the key to me signing there,” Czuczman said. “The culture that is starting to develop and the opportunity to be a part of something special with a new wave of players coming up is something that’s too good to pass up on.

“He’s matured a bit physically and he’s played a lot of hockey. We are extremely excited to work with him and have him as a part of the organization.” Doug Weight

“It’s definitely going in the right direction and I want to be a part of it,” he added.

Czuczman said his playing style meshes well with the Islanders up-tempo pace. He’s a self-described two-way defenseman who plays the puck in the offensive zone and plays the body in the defensive zone.

“He’s 6,3, has excellent mobility and has some great talent,” Weight said. “There are always late bloomers and guys that somehow – and you don’t know how – slip through the cracks of the draft. We’ve kept a close eye on him and he’s developed well.”

Weight and the Islanders scouting staff coveted Czuczman for several seasons and were thrilled to land him after a career-year. At 23, Czuczman is making the jump a little later than most, but Weight sees that as a potential advantage for the defenseman.

“He’s matured a bit physically and he’s played a lot of hockey,” Weight said. “We are extremely excited to work with him and have him as a part of the organization.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 76 34 40 -3 74
R. Strome 75 15 32 19 47
K. Okposo 54 15 31 -10 46
F. Nielsen 75 13 28 9 41
B. Nelson 76 18 22 9 40
A. Lee 70 23 16 12 39
J. Bailey 64 15 23 4 38
J. Boychuk 66 8 25 9 33
T. Hamonic 66 5 25 16 30
N. Leddy 72 10 19 15 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 35 16 2 .915 2.39
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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