The Sports Center

Max Letunov's NHL rights traded to San Jose

Connecticut forward Maxim Letunov’s NHL rights have been traded for the second time.

The San Jose Sharks acquired them Monday from Arizona as part of a trade that also saw the Coyotes send a 2017 sixth round draft selection to San Jose for the Sharks’ 2016 fourth round and 2017 third round draft picks (the latter being a selection originally from Detroit).

Originally a Boston University commit, the 6’4″, 170 lbs forward late move to Connecticut was the Huskies’ gain. Letunov, along with fellow freshman and 2016 Draft Eligible Tage Thompson, helped spark the Huskies offensively centering the team’s top line. He led UConn in scoring as a freshman with 40 points in 36 games – the most by a Connecticut player in 4 seasons – as the Huskies hosted a Hockey East home playoff game for the first time in school history.

For his efforts, he earned Connecticut’s MVP Award.

Letunov’s mix of speed, skill and an elite wrist shot have him ranked the 11th-best NHL prospect playing college hockey last year by SB Nation College Hockey.

Letunov was a skilled but slight and skinny prospect when the Blues selected him two years ago. After spending an extra year in the USHL, Letunov came into the NCAA ranks this year much stronger and made an immediate impact, scoring 16-24-40 in his rookie season behind only first round picks Kyle Connor, Brock Boeser, Colin White, and 2016 Draft eligible Dylan Gambrell.

Letunov’s added muscle has made him stronger on his skates and better able to fight through traffic, allowing him to use his offensive skills better. He’s got the ability to turn a bad pass into a good pass with excellent body control and does a nice job using lateral movement to create space for himself in the offensive zone. He’s also really improved his wrist shot in recent years, giving him a deadly scoring weapon.

Letunov was originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 2nd round (52nd overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft. Arizona traded with the Blues for the Moscow native’s rights at the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline.

Of course, having his NHL rights traded for a second time should not have an effect on Letunov at UConn in the short term. He is expected to help the Huskies as a sophomore.

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