Dean Kukan

Hometown:

Zurich Switzerland

Currently Playing In:

Pro

Birthday:

1993-07-08

Position:

D

Eligible for draft:

2011

Shoots:

Left

Drafted:

Height:

6-2

Acquired:

Signed as free agent, 2015

Weight:

210 lbs.

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History

2008-09: Dean Kukan played in eight regular season contests and five playoff games for the GCK Lions U20 team in Switzerland as a 15-year-old and skated for the Swiss U17 and U16 teams. He had one assist during the regular season with the Lions and had no points with 2 penalty minutes in the playoffs. He played for second-place ZSC U17 in Zurich in Switzerland’s Elite Novizen. In 37 games (including 10 playoff contests) he scored 1 goal with 7 assists and 8 penalty minutes. Kukan had no points nor penalty minutes in three games with Switzerland’s U17 team and scored 1 goal with 2 assists and 2 penalty minutes in 12 games with the U16 squad. 

2009-10: Kukan made his debut at the men’s level in Switzerland — splitting the year between the GC Kusnacht Lions in the National B League and the club’s U20 team — and played in his first World Junior Championship tournament with Switzerland’s U18 team. He had 6 assists with 14 penalty minutes in 29 men’s league games. Kukan scored 1 goal with 5 assists and 2 penalty minutes in 13 regular season games for the Lions U20 team. He had 4 assists with 2 penalty minutes in nine playoff contests as the Lions captured the Elite Junior A championship. Kukan had 3 assists and was -3 with no penalties in six games for Switzerland at the 2010 U18 WJC. Switzerland defeated the Czech Republic, 6-5, in a wild fifth-place game. 

2010-11: Kukan made his debut in Switzerland’s National A League, playing two games for the ZSC Lions after spending most of the year with GC Kusnacht in the B League. He played for the GCK Lions U20 team during their run to the Elite Junior A championship and played for Switzerland at the U19 World Junior A Challenge and the 2011 U18 World Junior Championship. Kukan had no points nor penalty minutes in National A play. He scored 1 goal with 2 assists and 4 penalty minutes in 37 regular season B League games. GCK missed the playoffs, finishing ninth. Kukan had 1 assist and 6 penalty minutes in 12 Elite Junior A games. He had 1 assist and 2 penalty minutes in four games for Switzerland at the World Junior A Challenge and was +1 with 2 assists in six games as the Switzerland U18 team finished seventh at the WJC, avoiding relegation. 

2011-12: Kukan left Switzerland to play for Lulea in Sweden — skating in three SHL games with the men’s team and playing for the club’s U20 squad. He played for Switzerland’s U20 team at the 2012 World Junior Championship. He had no points nor penalties in SHL play. Kukan scored 5 goals with 16 assists and 8 penalty minutes in 42 regular season games for the Lulea U20 team. He had 2 assists and 2 penalty minutes in three SuperElit playoff games. Kukan scored 1 goal with 1 assist and was +2 in six games for eighth-place Switzerland in his first WJC U20 tournament.  

2012-13: Kukan worked his way into a lower pairing role with Lulea during the SHL playoffs after splitting the year between the SHL, Allsvenskan and the SuperElit U20 league. In 16 regular season games with Lulea he scored 1 goal with 3 assists and was +9, averaging 18:47 minutes of ice time. Lulea reached the SHL finals after finishing fourth in the regular season, falling to first-place Skelleftea. Kukan had 1 assist and was +4 in 15 playoff games, averaging 11 minutes of ice time. Playing for Tingsryds and Asploven in Allsvenskan, he had 2 assists and was -8 with 6 penalty minutes in 18 games. Kukan played 11 games with the Lulea U20 team, scoring 2 goals with 1 assist and finishing -5 with 2 penalty minutes. He had 1 assist with an even plus/minus and 2 penalty minutes in six games playing in his second U20 WJC with Switzerland. 

2013-14: Kukan spent his first full season in the SHL with Lulea and played for the Switzerland men’s team in the 2014 IIHF World Championship. He scored 3 goals with 10 assists and was +2 with 14 penalty minutes in 52 regular season games. Lulea finished sixth, falling to third-place Vaxjo in a quarterfinal series. Kukan was -5 with 1 goal and 1 assist in six playoff games. He scored 1 goal and had an even plus/minus in seven games, averaging 12 minutes of ice time, for Switzerland at the World Championship. Switzerland missed the quarterfinals after finishing fifth in Group B and was 10th overall. 

2014-15: Kukan returned to Lulea for his second SHL season and skated in his second World Championship tournament with Switzerland. He scored 3 goals with 10 assists and was +2 with 14 penalty minutes in 52 regular season games. Lulea finished eighth in the regular season, sweeping Djurgardens in a play-in series before falling to Frolunda in seven games. Kukan was +1 with no points nor penalties in the series with Djurgardens and had 2 assists and was +2, averaging 21:50 minutes of ice time in seven games against Frolunda. He had no points nor penalties, seeing limited ice time in three games with Switzerland at the World Championship. Kukan signed a two-year entry level contract with Columbus as an undrafted free agent in June 2015. 

2015-16: Kukan made his NHL debut with the Blue Jackets in a March 26th game against Nashville after spending most of the season with Columbus AHL affiliate Lake Erie. He played 29 games with the Monsters — suffering an injury in December that kept him out until March. He scored 3 goals with 7 assists and was +1 with 6 penalty minutes with Lake Erie.

Talent Analysis

Kukan is a big, solidly-built defender who plays a sound game and works hard in all three zones.

Future

Kukan is in his first season of hockey in North America in 2015-16, beginning the season with the AHL's Lake Erie Monsters before being called up late in the season and making his NHL debut with the Blue Jackets. A regular for two seasons with Lulea in Sweden before joining the Columbus organization, he is more advanced than most rookies but does not appear to have much offensive upside. He projects as a sound lower pairing defensive defenseman.

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