Welcome to the second day of our Top 25 Under 25 countdown here at The Cannon! Thanks to the more than 120 of you who participated in our reader poll. Throughout the month of August, we’ll reveal a new player each weekday based on your ranking.
#14 Dean Kukan
14th out of 55 eligible players (1115 points)
Highest placement: #3 (1 ballot)
Most common placement: #13 (21)
Birthdate: July 8th, 1993
Birthplace: Volketswil, Switzerland
Weight: 185 lbs
Acquired: Signed a two-year entry level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets on June 1st, 2015.
Dean Kukan spent the first half of the season as a part of the top defensive pairing for the Cleveland Monsters.
Around Christmas time, there were rumblings all over the world that he was going to head back home to play in Switzerland starting the 2018-19 season. It was basically set in stone when the injury bug hit the Columbus Blue Jackets.
From December 29th to the end of the season, Kukan would spend the bulk of his time in Columbus filling the void multiple injured players left behind. Unfortunately, Kukan caught the injury bug on February 18th and was relegated to injured reserve.
The Blue Jackets were impressed with the way Kukan played leading up to his injury. So impressed, they signed him to a two-year contract extension on March 14th, 2018. A few days later he was activated off the injured reserve list.
Kukan finished the season in Columbus tallying four assists over 11 games.
This offseason he won silver in the World Championships with Switzerland.
At the start of the season, Kukan will likely be a part of the bottom pairing. Which is a shame because he has what it takes to play on the first or second pairing. With Seth Jones and Zach Werenski around, the highest Kukan will play is the second pairing.
Kukan is the most underrated defensman in the Blue Jackets system. Despite not making a lot of noise on the ice, he is a force to be reckoned with and a power house. He adapts well to whoever his defensive partner is at the time. No matter what goalie is net, Kukan plays a consistent game. He’s always doing the right things. Learning is one of his biggest attributes. There is never a moment where Kukan is not learning or adjusting to his surroundings. You can see his game grow every day.
I believe this will be a breakout year for Kukan. Once he is set on fire, there will be no way to put it out.