Swift Current Broncos defenceman Artyom Minulin could’ve finished this season a bona fide first round prospect.
After joining the Broncos a season ago as a first-round pick in the CHL Import Draft, Minulin flashed high-end vision and backed it up with serious production. He forced himself onto the scouting community’s radar for this year’s draft, and the table was set to use this season as a launching pad into prominence.
In some ways, Minulin didn’t disappoint. He grew offensively and played a significant role in the Broncos playoff run. Many of the question marks that hung over Minulin going into this season remain, though. For those reasons, Minulin clocks in as our 54th ranked prospect.
- Age: 18-years-old, 1998-10-01
- Birthplace: Tyumen, Russia
- Position: D
- Handedness: R
- Draft Year Team: Swift Current Broncos – WHL
- Frame: 6’2”, 198 lbs.
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Minulin hasn’t generated a ton of accolades, and while he put up points, he wasn’t scoring left and right this season. However, when I’ve watched him carefully, I’ve seen a defender with a lot of skill and IQ in his game. When Minulin has the puck, he shows good patience and awareness with his distributions. Minulin is very useful on the power play because of his vision. He can display quality puck skills in open ice, and has a good shot from the point as well. Unfortunately, his skating is problematic. He can get turned by quicker forwards and will rely on his puck movement to transition the puck as opposed to speed. Defensively, he’s about average outside of his skating, showing fine physical play and reads, but he’s not perfect in his own end, making the occasional bad error.
A two-way defender with size who utilizes his smarts to strategically play a safe but effective game in both ends…skates well for a big man and has improved the quickness to his initial steps…skates with a wide base to balance his large frame…an effective passer who reads options and hits his target…effective on the powerplay, walking the line with the puck before delivering shots through traffic…does a good job of managing his own end, working to eliminate chances…swarms his opponents and uses his strength to his advantage once he angles the play into a stationary battle along the boards…his quick stick and keen vision allows him to hold coverage of lanes, impeding chances…clears his crease front and doesn’t get over rangy in his defense, maintaining position when pressure mounts…his work ethic is very good and he is a beast in board play…has a limited ceiling offensively but the potential to be the defensive anchor at the next level…a big, broad shouldered defenseman that shows some impressive athleticism and all-around play. (November 2016)
On a fundamental level, I’m surprised by how the draft analysis community as a whole receives Minulin. Defencemen his size with an adequate amount of snarl and offensive production don’t usually have to wait until the second day of the draft to cross the stage.
Seeing as Minulin came to the WHL a full two seasons before his draft, I tend to think we can write off the “Russian factor” as working against him too.
There’s only one significant deficiency in Minulin’s game, as far as I can tell, and it’s skating. And it’s significant enough as to explain why he’s plummetted into the late second or early third rounds of most rankings and mock drafts. If you can’t skate, you can’t play.
Another factor to consider when evaluating Minulin’s season against his peers is that he’s on the older side of first-time draft eligible skaters, starting his season at 17.9-years-old according to www.Prospect-Stats.com.
Minulin scored, and in bunches. His 25 points at five-on-five trail only Juuso Valimaki among first-time draft eligible defencemen from the WHL. One has to be careful how much stock they place in those accolades though given the physical and developmental advantage Minulin is working with as opposed to his peers.
It’s just as important to note how Minulin scored those points as the environmental factors that contributed to them. Minulin sees the ice exceptionally well and has a booming shot that he’s not shy about using.
To Minulin’s credit, he doesn’t surrender a tonne defensively to contribute in the offensive zone. That’s often the case with players his age. The Broncos controlled 58% of the goals at five-on-five with Minulin on the ice. Minulin has some work to do on rounding out his defensive game. He’s prone to the odd gaffe trying to transition the puck up ice and getting caught flat-footed. Overall, though, he’s relatively solid in his own end of the ice.
If we frame Minulin’s last season with pGPS, he carries an Expected Success rate of 35.1%, and the successful members of his cohort produce an expected 24.4 points per 82 games. Players like Mike Green, Karl Alzner, Nick Schultz and Travis Hamonic check out as current NHL’ers who Minulin’s draft season compares to most closely. His Weighted Line Assignment by pGPS is as a third pair defender.
If Minulin can improve upon his skating, he could turn out as one of the biggest steals of the draft on the blue line. Players his size that can hold their own at each end of the ice are at a premium.