2022 NHL Draft Tracker: Pavel Mintyukov
Pavel Mintyukov has been quietly climbing NHL Draft rankings this season with his strong play for the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League.
The 6-foot-2, 192-pound Mintyukov is a smooth skating, offensive defenseman who was born in Moscow, Russia. He sits second in OHL scoring among defensemen with 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) in 29 games.
“Mintyukov is a two-way defenseman who is able to make the most of his well-rounded and versatile tool kit with his smarts and reliable decision making,” FCHockey scout Brandon Holmes said. “He’s more than capable at both ends of the ice and is as steady a presence as they come on the blue line, which makes it easy to see Mintyukov as a potential top four at the NHL level who would be capable of playing both special teams.”
If Mintyukov can continue his impressive play for the remainder of the season, he could end up as one of the steals of this draft.
So let’s dive a little deeper into the hockey traits of Mintyukov to discover what might make him a first round selection at the 2022 NHL Draft.
WHO IS PAVEL MINTYUKOV?
Mintyukov is a late birthday, born on November 25, 2003. He played his minor hockey in the Dynamo Moscow system and is the prototypical offensive defenseman who has the ability to make special plays at either end of the ice. The young Russian was selected by the Saginaw Spirit in the first round (No. 52) of the 2020 CHL Import Draft, and is in his first season of North American hockey.
Mintyukov models his style of play to his favourite NHL player Quinn Hughes. And the similarities between the two are clearly evident when you watch each play. Mintyukov’s skating and edgework are outstanding, and compliment his slick puck handling skills.
Mintyukov was recently upgraded to an ‘A’ ranking by the NHL Central Scouting players to watch list – designating him as a potential first-round candidate. He is slotted at No. 45 in FCHockey’s Winter ranking for the 2022 NHL Draft.
Mintyukov started his junior career in the MHL in Russia as a 16 year old and registered three points (one goal, two assists) in 33 games for MHK Dynamo during the 19-20 season. His only international experience for team Russia came in 2019 at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, where he helped Russia claim gold by leading the team defensemen in points with five assists in six games.
Mintyukov missed out on his first OHL season last year, owing to its cancellation from the pandemic. In his first full season in the OHL this year, Mintyukov has adapted quickly to the North American style of play and is tied for second in points among draft-eligible defensemen with 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) in 29 games.
The one strength that immediately stands out with Mintyukov is his smooth and effortless skating. Whether it be from a static position, or into a transition, his skating is strong and efficient. His edgework is very impressive as well. He can make tight turns in small areas while maintaining good balance.
When given the opportunity, Mintyukov will start or join the rush out of the defensive zone. He has the confidence to attempt high-risk plays due to his puckhandling abilities and his strong skating allows him to recover quickly if the play breaks down.
“The standout aspect of Mintyukov is his awareness and poise with the puck on his stick,” Holmes said. “He rarely throws pucks away when pressured by checkers, routinely able to stay calm under duress to find passing lanes both on the breakout and from the point in the offensive zone. Mintyukov’s mobility is quite good, adding an extra dimension to his puck-moving game and allowing him to join the attack more effectively when opportunities present themselves.”
MINTYUKOV’S AREAS OF IMPROVEMENTS
One area of improvement that Mintyukov needs to work on is his risky exits out of the defensive zone. He will at times attempt to leave the zone or make a pass in high traffic areas, which can lead to scoring chances or goals against.
“To play at higher levels, Mintyukov may need to add a physical edge to his defensive game in order to win net front battles against bigger and stronger competition, as at the moment his defensive game is predominately reliant on stick work rather than physicality,” Holmes stated. “He could also stand to add an extra step in terms of straight-line speed in order to adapt to the faster pace of the NHL.”
Another weakness that is noted in Mintyukov’s game is his physical play along the boards and in front of the net. He will occasionally be caught ‘puck watching’ instead of playing the body, which can lead to defensive zone liabilities. By adding some weight and strength, and by improving his defensive positioning, it can elevate him to the next level.
Pavel Mintyukov could be one of the top defenseman selected in the 2022 NHL Draft. His strong skating and offensive capabilities make him a desirable prospect for any NHL team. Mintyukov will have to address some minor weaknesses and improve on his defensive play, but the foundation is already pretty solid.
His play in the second half of the OHL season will determine whether or not he will be selected in the first round or later on.