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By the Numbers Prospects - Ryan Kuffner

Princeton's all-time leading goal scorer finds tough sledding with Red Wings

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner /

By the Numbers will highlight the on-ice accomplishments in the 2018-19 season for the Detroit Red Wings' prospects. Twice a week during the offseason, By the Numbers will profile a different player in the system, focusing on his statistical highs. This week we focus on right wing Ryan Kuffner.

Most of us can pinpoint the exact time in our lives when we received the wake-up call.

A moment when perception and reality meet, forcing us to examine the situation honestly.

For Detroit Red Wings right wing Ryan Kuffner, his wake-up call occurred when he was just 15 years old, when the Ottawa native wasn't selected in the Ontario Hockey League Draft.

He had always envisioned playing in the 'O' for his hometown Ottawa 67's and once that aspiration was shattered, Kuffner became determined to figure out how his skill set would best translate to the NHL game.

After spending three seasons (2012-15) playing Junior A hockey for the Gloucester Rangers of the Central Canada Hockey League, Kuffner chose the college route and enrolled at prestigious Princeton University in fall 2015.

Though he was never selected in the NHL Entry Draft, Kuffner used it as motivation -- much like he did when he wasn't taken in the OHLDraft -- to establish himself as a hidden collegiate gem during his four years with the Princeton Tigers.

Playing in the competitive ECAC Hockey conference, the 6-foot-1, 196-pound Kuffner utilized his speed, good size, intelligence and knack for going to net to develop into a highly-sought-after college free agent.

In 132 games at Princeton, he tallied 152 career points (75-77-152), was plus-14 and had a minuscule 20 career penalty minutes. Kuffner's 75 goals are the most in Princeton history and his 152 points rank second all-time for the Tigers.

During his junior season, he notched 52 points (29-23-52) in 36 games as Princeton was crowned the ECAC champion and Kuffner was named to the NCAA (East) Second All-American Team, ECAC Second All-Star team and was an All-Ivy League Honorable Mention.

Kuffner followed up his outstanding junior year with a solid senior campaign in which he was NCAA (East) First All-American, ECAC First All-Star, first team All-Ivy League and College Hockey News second team All-American.

Once Princeton's season concluded, Kuffner was signed as a free agent to a two-year entry-level contract by the Red Wings on March 12 and made his NHL debut on March 16 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit's 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders.

Similar to most of Detroit's high-end prospects, Kuffner is well aware that jobs are available with the Wings. At 23, he has the emotional maturity and the physical capacity to play in the NHL, but he must improve offensively if he's going to stick in Motown.

Detroit signed Kuffner for his goal-scoring potential and though he struggled in his brief audition with the Wings last season, he has shown to be a quick study, which could benefit him in the long run, whether he begins the season with the Wings or with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "Just everyday trying to get a bit better everyday."More from Ryan Kuffner following today's morning skate. #DETvsBUF

31 - Total number of games he played as a senior for Princeton, which ranked first on the squad, a distinction he shared with five other teammates.

22 - Kuffner's 22 goals led the Tigers, ranked first in the ECAC and fourth in the nation when he signed with the Red Wings last March. He also doled out 22 assists, which placed him second on the team behind fellow forward Max Veronneau, who paced the Tigers with 24 helpers.

44 - His 44 total points led Princeton, was third in the ECAC and tied him for 12th overall in the nation.

1.42 - Playing on a deficient Princeton team, Kuffner's 1.42 points-per-game average was tops in college hockey.

8 - A very disciplined player, he was assessed only eight penalty minutes last season, which turned out to be the highest single-season total of his four-year Princeton career.

+2 - Kuffner was among a small handful of players to be plus players on the Tigers. His plus-2 was tied for third on the team.

10 - After he was signed by the Red Wings on March 12, Kuffner played in 10 games for Detroit. He was held pointless, fired eight shots on goal, was minus-4 and had an ice-time average of 10:56.

Quotable: "I think sometimes with the college guys, they come in a little bit older, obviously. But for him, I think it was good for him when he signed and come in and get some NHL games. A lot of these kids that leave college or leave junior don't realize how good pro hockey is, especially the NHL. They always seem to take for granted even the level of the AHL. So anytime they can come in and get a little taste of what that level is and what it's like before they go into the summer, they're at a huge advantage because they know, the majority of them come up and they know what they need to work on." - Shawn Horcoff, Red Wings director of player development/assistant director of player personnel. 

Quotable II: "I'm here for the whole summer so I know the things that I have to work on and I just take it from my experience being here for a few weeks (last season). I think being here, it's kind of away from home, it's definitely a different regimen than I'm used to, a different routine, but it's also a great opportunity, just 24 hours a day, do everything it takes to get as good as I can. That's all that matters and I think that's a big thing for me this summer is just being here, being with the guys, doing everything we can to make it a competitive environment because that's only going to make us better. It's just a competitive environment that you live for and that's what's going to make me better. I know that. Just have to run with it and enjoy it." - Ryan Kuffner

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