The Winnipeg Jets have signed defenceman Dmitry Kuzmin to a three-year entry level contract with an annual average value of $US 866,667.
Kuzmin, who was born in Belarus, was the Jets third round pick of last month’s 2021 NHL Entry Draft. The 5-9, 178 pound left shot rearguard played in 46 games for Dinamo-Molodechno of the Belarus league this past season and scored 3 goals to go along with 9 assists for 12 points.
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said Kuzmin’s stature as an undersized defenceman was not an issue. “Pretty talented, good hands, moves well, sees the ice,” Cheveldayoff told reporters on July 24, just hours after selecting the Belarussian blueliner. “He’s not the tallest player but he’s got good thickness to him, good strength to him. We project he’s got a pro style of body along with the skills.”
The 18 year old defenseman will play for Flint of the Ontario Hockey League after being selected 46th overall by the Firebirds in the 2020 CHL Import draft. Kuzmin also caught the attention of Jets Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Hillier during this past spring’s World U18 Tournament in Dallas.
“He’s got a dynamic side to his game. He can run a powerplay I’m sure you’ve seen the lacrosse type goal he scored that’s on all the video clips,” said Hillier on July 24th in reference to the lone goal Kuzmin scored in the tournament against Team Switzerland.
“He’s just a character kid too, plays really hard and competes. Has a great stick. It’s a challenge obviously to play pro or the NHL at that size, but he has all the intangibles — the work ethic, the grit and determination — and we just think it’s a good pick regardless of size.”
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