2016-17 Team: Swift Current Broncos (#5)
Date of Birth: October 1, 1998
Place of Birth: Tyumen, Russia
Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 198 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017 first-year eligible
- THW (Pike’s Picks): not ranked (final)
- Future Considerations: 79th (final)
- ISS: not ranked (May)
- Bob McKenzie: 66th (Mid-season)
- Craig Button: 77th (final)
- The Hockey News: 65th (final)
It seems like every year, draft analysts routine rave about the quality of defenders available in the Canadian Hockey League in the form of import players from Finland and Sweden. While that’s been consistently true, Russian blueliners have become more and more prominent in the NHL Draft as well. The 2015 Draft featured Ivan Provorov. The 2016 Draft had Mikhail Sergachev. The prominent Russian blueliner in the 2017 class is Artyom Minulin.
The best complement that can be given of Minulin’s game is that he doesn’t play like a European. If you didn’t have a name bar on his jersey that pronounced his Russian heritage, you would swear he was a rugged stay-at-home defender from Moose Jaw or Flin Flon. A veteran of two seasons in the Western Hockey League, he plays a very simple, smart, “meat and potatoes” brand of hockey. There’s not a ton of risk in his game, but he plays smart hockey with and without the puck and seems adept at calming a game down with his decision-making.
“Meat and potatoes” is also a pretty good description of the good and bad of Minulin’s game. He’s good, but not great, at most things. He arguably errs on the side of caution too much, sometimes opting for the simple, safe play rather than trying something more risky that could pay off with offense – which is a shame, because he has the skill to pull off fancier plays. He doesn’t try to force passes or shots through lanes, but he also occasionally struggles with opening them, too. That said, there’s worst things to be than a strong WHL defender who excels at the basics and plays a smart, safe game. Minulin’s style projects well to the NHL level and if he can continue to round out his game, he’ll be a valuable asset for any organization that takes him.
NHL Draft Projection
Minulin projects to go somewhere between the second and fourth rounds.
“Minulin is a creative play-maker, who plays well in both ends. The right-handed blue liner is one of the more balanced d-men in the league. His long-term plan that started back in 2015, has worked out so far as he is on the verge of getting drafted into the NHL.” – Brandon Rivers, Dub Network.
“Artyom Minulin is a solid puck moving defenceman with offensive upside. There are many defencemen with more skill in the draft, but Minulin understands the game very well and has top-notch awareness and vision from the blue line. He has a strong upper body and is good at moving opposing skaters off the puck. Calm in his own end and always has his head on a swivel looking to make the right play.” – Marshall Mackinder, Hockey Now.
- Good on-ice vision
- Effective puck distributor
- Plays a smart, simple two-way game
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Not an amazing skater, could stand to improve his footwork
- Needs to use his size more frequently
- Occasionally struggles defending against speedy forwards on the rush
Second or third pairing defender.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 8/10, Defense 7.5/10
Minulin represented Russia at the World Under-17 Challenge, winning a gold medal.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.