With the 66th pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Anaheim Ducks have selected Sasha Pastujov from the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP)
About Sasha Pastujov
As far as dual-threat scoring players go, Sasha Pastujov ranks up near the top of this class. When he has the puck on his stick, he’s capable of putting it in the net with one of the best shots in the class, but he’s also an elite playmaker who can somehow find a streaking or trailing teammate with ease on just about any shift. It’s not just about his awareness, vision, or detection, either; as far as passing goes, Pastujov is great at delivering tape-to-tape passes, which often open up the ice offensively for his team.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“When you look at this year’s USNTDP draft class, there have been three forwards that have stood out from the rest — Dylan Duke, Chaz Lucius and Sasha Pastujov. Pastujov was one of the U.S. National U17 team’s most prolific point producers during the 2019-20 season and co-led the team in scoring with Chaz Lucius. He amassed 14 goals and 36 assists for 50 points in 49 games played. He made the jump to the U18 level this season and continued his dominance, leading the team in goals, assists and points with 30 goals and 35 assists for 65 points in 41 games played.
“Pastujov is an exceptionally talented dual-threat winger who can beat opposition defenders in a variety of ways. He’s one of the best puck handlers in the draft class and produced several highlight-reel plays throughout the season. He’s got soft hands and can handle the puck close to his body and use a quick burst of speed to embarrass a defender. When he gets up to full speed, he’s incredibly hard to stop and can weave in-and-out of the opposing steam with ease.
Related: THW’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide
“He’s not the fastest player when it comes to top speed, but it certainly isn’t a weak point in his game. Where he really excels is his edgework and agility, especially at full speed. He can cut and turn in the blink of an eye and projects well as an efficient puck possession wizard at the NHL level.
“Pastujov possesses an impressive passing range as well as a deceptively powerful shot. He doesn’t shoot the puck as much as some of the top snipers in the class, but he just always seems to find himself in the right positions to put the puck in the back of the net. His goal-scoring prowess is due to his exceptional hockey IQ, and he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, whether it’s to set up a teammate or to score himself.
“His offensive abilities don’t come at a sacrifice for responsibility in his own zone. He’s a well-rounded player who can still impact the game without the puck on his stick. He could stand to add some more strength, which would allow him to be a bit more physical when defending, as well as adding a bit of explosiveness to his skating stride.”
How This Affects the Ducks’ Plans
For the Ducks, Pastujov isn’t a player that will have an immediate impact on the franchise in the near future. He has excellent scoring potential and a strong two-way game, but he also won’t be ready for the NHL anytime soon.
As a third-round pick, however, this is a great value add by Anaheim. Many expected Pastujov to be off the board in the late first to early second-round, so to get him 66th overall is, frankly, fantastic.