Karlis Cukste


Riga Latvia

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5th round (130th overall), 2015


203 lbs.

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2012-13: Karlis Cukste skated for SK Riga 16 in the Latvia U18 league. He scored 9 goals with 11 assists and 24 penalty minutes in 19 games. 

2013-14: Cukste played for SK Riga 18 in the Latvia U20 league and was a member of the Latvia U18 team at the 2014 Division 1A World Junior Championship tournament in France. He scored 9 goals with 14 assists and 16 penalty minutes in 22 games for SK Riga. Cukste scored 1 goal with 1 assist and was +3 with no penalties in five games at the D1A World Juniors. Latvia was 4-1 in the round robin tournament, winning a gold medal and earning promotion to the top division for 2014-15. 

2014-15: Cukste skated for HK Riga in the Russia U22 league (MHL) and played for the Latvia U20 and U18 junior teams. He scored 7 goals with 8 assists and was -3 with 40 penalty minutes in 56 MHL regular season games. HK Riga finished fourth in the North-West Division before being swept by Almaz Cherepovets in a preliminary series. Cukste was -1 with no points nor penalties in three playoff games. In five games with the Latvia U20 team at the 2015 Division 1A World Juniors he scored 1 goal with 2 assists and had an even plus/minus with 2 penalty minutes. Latvia finished third behind Belarus and Norway. Cukste scored 2 goals with 4 assists and was +2 with 8 penalty minutes in six games for the Latvia U18 team at the 2015 WJC in Switzerland. Latvia finished ninth in the 10-team tournament ahead of Germany, avoiding relegation. Cukste was ranked 100th amongst international skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings and was selected by San Jose in the fifth round (130th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft. He was selected by Rouyn-Noranda in the second round (82nd overall) in the 2015 CHL Import Draft.

Talent Analysis

Cukste is a two-way defenseman who skates well, has an NHL-style frame, and competes hard. He has average to below average offensive skills but has put up points during important games during this junior career. He has a below average shot, but plays a smart, mistake-free game.


Cukste is in camp with the USHL's Waterloo Black Hawks and will likely skate for the club in 2015-16, maintaining his NCAA eligibility. He is also a candidate to skate for the Latvia U20 team this season. A long-range prospect, Cukste's size and composure give him a realistic opportunity at eventually making it to the NHL as a bottom-pairing option. He will likely take a few seasons before he reaches his potential.

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