He is a big, strong kid with northeastern Ontario roots who can skate and score and do so much more.
He is Ryan Kujawinski, who became a more-complete player after joining the North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League midway through the 2014-2015 season and is now a National Hockey Leaguer in waiting.
Kujawinski, who was born in Kirkland Lake and grew up in Iroquois Falls — which makes him a KLIF, I suppose — recently took another step towards playing in the NHL when the New Jersey Devils signed him to a three-year, entry-level contract.
New Jersey had selected the 6-foot-2, 207 pound Kujawinski, who turned 20-years old on March 30, in the third round, 73rd overall, at the 2013 NHL Draft.
It was following a mid-season trade from the Kingston Frontenacs to North Bay that Kujawinski took his game to a higher level over the latter half of the 2014-2015 campaign.
Playing centre and left wing for North Bay coach Stan Butler, Kujawinski had 21 goals, 15 assists, 36 points in 34 regular-season games with the Battalion. He had 13 goals, 10 assists, 23 points in 27 games with Kingston for overall regular-season totals of 34-25-59 in 61 games in 2014-2015.
“I’m really happy for the kid,” said Butler who has developed more players for the pro and NHL ranks than any other current Canadian Hockey League coach. “When Ryan came to us, it was probably 50-50 whether he’d get a contract. He worked hard and he earned a contract.”
A four-year OHLer who was originally selected in the first round, fourth overall by the Sarnia Sting in 2011, Kujawinski posted regular-season career totals of 90 goals, 94 assists, 184 points in 231 games.
Kujawinski ended his OHL career in style with North Bay during this spring’s playoffs, scoring 6 goals, 3 assists, 9 points in 15 games as the Battalion advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before losing to the eventual league champion Oshawa Generals.
PHOTO: Ryan Kujawinski completed his four-year OHL career in fine form with the North Bay Battalion before signing an NHL contract with the New Jersey Devils.