Welcome to yet another installment of 'Names To Know', a look-ahead at prospects who the Columbus Blue Jackets could select in the upcoming NHL Draft.
With two of the first dozen selections — picks #6 and #12 overall — the Blue Jackets have a chance to grab two players (for the second straight draft) that could become mainstays on the roster for years to come. There are plenty of names to be considered ahead of the July 7 date in this wide-open draft.
Considered one of the best offensive defensemen in this draft, 18-year-old Pavel Mintyukov can also hold his own on the defensive end. At 6-foot-1 and 197 lbs. he may not be a behemoth, but he has good height and already has some meat on his bones.
Mintyukov was born in Moskva, Russia, and played youth hockey for his hometown team until he came to North America to play professionally for the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL. He also has experience playing internationally on Russia's U16 and U17 teams, scoring 11 points in 19 contests for the latter team.
He signed with Saginaw before the 2020-21 season but was unable to play due to the OHL season being canceled. However, this past season, as a D-man, he led the Spirit in scoring with 62 points in 67 games. 45 of those came from assists as he showed off his ability to push the puck into the offensive zone and create plays for his teammates as well as using his shooting skills to put the puck in the back of the net.
He is also a physical player who can use his body to shut down opposing forwards coming in on the attack. He may be known for his offense, but he understands that his first priority is on the defensive end and executes those duties at a high level.
This is what Scott Wheeler of the Athletic had to say about the left-handed defender.
"Mintyukov is an adept three-zone player who thrives in transition, defends at a high level, and can manage the offensive zone blue line. When he’s looking to be active, he can involve himself in all areas of the game. He’s also talented as both a handler and shooter (though I think a couple of highlight-reel plays have exaggerated that a little)"
Here are the positives and negatives of Mintyukov, presented in the summary section of Smaht Scouting's report on him.
With Pavel Mintyukov’s size, raw tools (including puck skill and passing ability), four-way agility, and deceptive maneuvering around the blue line: it’s hard not to see a lottery selection on that assessment alone. There are not many players in this draft class that have the ability to operate in the offensive zone from the backend like Mintyukov can. Add in his ability to suffocate space and his mobility to keep a tight gap: he’s an attractive asset in the 2022 draft.
As a life-long Buffalo Sabres fan, where I tend to get really hesitant with Mintyukov is his defensive zone awareness and propensity for chasing highlight reel hits rather than mitigating dangerous chances. It is all to reminiscent to watching Rasmus Ristolainen in a Sabres uniform. The tools are there, he’s a physical specimen, but too often I’m watching film of Mintyukov and trying to piece together the thought process behind some of his defensive reads. Some of these issues lie within the structure of Saginaw’s neutral and defensive zone set-up and Mintyukov’s skill set. However, a lot of it is individual reads that require if/then decisions that Mintyukov will too often not make correctly.
If I’m drafting Mintyukov I’m leaning in heavily on his offensive ability and his ability to create space with his edges and skill. I think he can excel in a defensive system that doesn’t lean so heavily on man-to-man defensive zone play. I would also spend a significant time in the film room showing how chasing hits in the neutral zone and at the defensive blue line has allowed teams to use it against him.
If Mintyukov can make those adjustments I think he could end up being one of the better defenders to come out of the 2022 NHL draft.
Smaht Scouting Report by Austin Garrett
The 18-year-old blueliner still needs to grow in several facets of his game, but will his raw talent be enough to tempt the Blue Jackets to take him with one of their two first-round picks.
Mock Draft Results: