Ryan Ufko Signs His ELC With the Nashville Predators

The defender is jumping from college to the AHL
United States of America v Canada: 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship
United States of America v Canada: 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Ryan Ufko, the Nashville Predators 4th round pick from the 2021 NHL draft has signed his entry level contract with the team and officially started his pro career.

The defensman finished his season with the UMass-Amherst Minutemen and signed his ELC for 2024-2025, as well as a tryout contract with the Milwaukee Admirals, which has allowed him to join the AHL squad for the remainder of the year. He has already reported to the team and so far has appeared in one game for the Admirals.

Starring for the Minutemen for the last three years, he appeared in 106 games while scoring 23 goals, and recording 58 assists, for 81 points. In his most recent season he played in 37 games while scoring 10 goals and 16 assists for 26 points. He was a key cog in the Minutemen's offense and was projected to be an important part of their team after he exploded in his final season in the USHL.

With the Chicago Steel in his draft year he skated in 53 games, scoring 10 goals with 29 assists for 39 points. Through the draft process, he was known for his ability to get off his above-average wrist or slap shot, his offensive vision, and his skating ability. The Smithtown, NY native has always been known for his ability to push the puck and to help contribute on offense.

In the NCAA he got to play in all situations and proved himself an adept defender who excelled in puck possession. He'll need to be able to keep up that kind of activity in the AHL if he wants to be able to make the jump to the NHL, and make sure there is consistent effort and performance in the defensive zone. Scouts were far from worried about the offensive side of the puck when it came to Ufko in his draft year. What gave teams pause and likely what helped slide him to the 4th round was teams wondering if he would be a deployable top 4 defender in the NCAA and then in the pro ranks. He is also undersized at 5'10" and 180 pounds.

For Team USA in the 2023 World Junior Championships, Ufko went off for 10 points (1 goal 9 assists) in 7 games as Team USA finished with a bronze medal.

After three stellar NCAA season Ufko is taking the next step in his development. Recently Jeremey Hanzel, Alexander Campbell, and Ethan Haider all have signed with the Admirals which gives the organization an extended look at some of its pro-ready pieces.

Hanzel as we've discussed had a fantastic year in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds whose rights were acquired as part of the Yakov Trenin trade with the Avalanche. Alexander Campbell just finished a point a game season at Northeastern and was the Predators 3rd round (65th overall) pick from the 2019 draft. Haider is the Predators 5th round pick from 2019 and starred at Clarkson and UCONN during his college years.