Ryan Kujawinski is in his NHL draft year, and sophomore season in the OHL with the Kingston Frontenacs. He was the fourth overall selection in the 2011 OHL Priority draft by the Sarnia Sting, but later traded to Kingston in exchange for top prospect Ryan Spooner. This could be his coming out season.
Kujawinski’s time in Sarnia was limited to 29 games and he managed to only produce 6 points in limited ice time there. He was traded to Kingston in January and played the final 30 games and scored 30 points as the team’s number one center. At 6’2” 205 lbs. this young man is an impressive specimen. His size is one of his many assets as he skates extremely well for such a young and big man. He possesses both quick acceleration and a top speed. He is very strong on his skates and well balanced and agile as he is able to shift laterally with ease. His puck possession skills are also very good as he is able to fake his way past defenders, handle hard and sloppy passes extremely well and can combine his puck handling skills and skating skills at the same time. His size, skating and stick handling skills make him dangerous on the rush as he can either deke past defender, or just go right through them.
The Kingston Frontenacs season ended with them finishing second last overall in the OHL, but the impressive finish of young core players such as Kujawinski and linemate Billy Jenkins give hope to this next season. In the off-season, Kingston put to use its high draft picks to bolster its line up with more talent by selecting players such as Roland McKeown, Sam Bennett, Mikko Vainonen, and Henri Ikonen. The Frontenacs have since opened the season with an impressive three wins and no losses, defeating Barrie, Erie, and Niagara to secure the best record in the league as the only team to win its first three games. Ryan Kujawinski has been an integral part of the teams early success as a leader both on and off the ice. He was rewarded with OHL player of the week honors after scoring five points in two games with two goals and three assists. He does not take all the credit as he was quick to give credit to his teammates and the coaching system.
“We got a good start against Barrie. We don’t have a lot of experience but we have really smart young players. If we just play the system and work hard I think we will be good.”
“Work the cycle and work hard” is the system Kujawinski says Coach Todd Gill has the team playing.
“We got to play the system, Todd is a really good Coach with Darren (Keily) and Mark Major behind the bench we got a lot of experience there.”
In the off season he gained some valuable experience as he was named to team Canada for the under 18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and helped win the Gold Medal. Canada defeated Finland by a score of 4-0 in the final game to secure the Gold. In the five games, Kujawinski scored one goal for Canada. With the NHL Lockout, there are several players who will compete to play for Canada in these years World Junior under 18 Tournament and Kujawinski will be one of them. If his play continues to improve at the current pace, he will be a serious contender to make the team.
Kujawinski is one of many a young and talented player who will be eligible for the next NHL entry draft. While it is still early, many draft rankings and mock drafts have Kujawinski in the late first or early second round. Again, assuming his play continues to improve the way it has been since being acquired by Kingston his draft ranking should climb equally as fast. His future is in his hands this season as he has the opportunity to lead the Kingston Frontenacs back to the playoffs, to play his way onto team Canada and climb his way up the NHL draft charts.
This season will be the biggest and most important of his young career as he is the new face of the franchise in Kingston and the foundation of what GM Doug Gilmour is trying to build. His play this season will determine how Kingston performs and if they reach their goal of returning to playoff hockey. His play this season will also determine his draft position of course, which is such an important factor in his future NHL career.