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.”