2022-23 Team: Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Date of Birth: April 30, 2005
Place of Birth: Kamloops, BC, Canada
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 163 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2023 first-year eligible
On a stacked Seattle Thunderbirds team that included the likes of top prospects Dylan Guenther, Brad Lambert, Kevin Korchinski, and Luke Prokop, you would be forgiven if you didn’t know the name Sawyer Mynio. Known more for his defense, his ceiling is that of a Chris Tanev or Jaccob Slavin rather than an Erik Karlsson or Quinn Hughes. His best work will come in his own zone blocking shots, denying passing lanes, and generally being in great position defensively. While everyone loves the flashy nature of a pure offensive threat like Hughes or Karlsson, winning teams need the presence of someone like Mynio too. Just ask the Carolina Hurricanes about how vital Slavin – arguably the NHL’s best modern defensive defenceman – has been to their success over the years.
Mynio was a staple on the Thunderbirds’ blue line in 2022-23, even after they acquired Nolan Allan at the trade deadline. His role and ice time obviously got reduced, but not as much as everyone expected it to. He even improved his game and became a key piece of their run to the Western Hockey League (WHL) championship and subsequent Memorial Cup berth. Finishing with an outstanding plus-50 in the plus/minus column in the regular season and a combined plus-7 in the playoffs and Memorial Cup, Mynio was rarely a liability on the ice. Despite what you might think about the stat, a plus-57 is impressive to finish a season in any league with.
Related: THW’s 2023 NHL Draft Guide
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With his toolbox of smarts, two-way potential, and most of all, ability to move the puck out of his own zone with precision, Mynio is the type of defenceman that every coach would love to have in their rotation. He won’t be selected in the upper echelon of defenders, but he could be a gem in the later rounds.
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Sawyer Mynio – NHL Draft Projection
Only ranked by two major outlets, Mynio will probably get selected in the fourth or fifth round. Although, a team that values smart defensive hockey and penalty-killing prowess might decide to take him earlier in the third or even the second. As I said earlier, modern defensive defencemen like Mynio have become more and more important over the years.
“Mynio’s a capable rush defender, steadily smothering the opposition by forcing attackers to the outside and matching their footwork. He quickly switches from one puck carrier to the next, keeping the pressure on. By locking onto opponents, he eliminates them from the play entirely. On breakouts, Mynio’s equally detailed. He avoids dump-outs and
low-percentage plays, preferring to look for passing options cross-ice or up the middle” – Elite Prospects 2023 Draft Guide (from ‘Elite Prospects 2023 Draft Guide – Sawyer Mynio Scouting Report’, Elite Prospects).
“Defense is the primary strength of Mynio’s game, and he excels in this area. While he may be a somewhat one-dimensional defender, he performs exceptionally well in his role. Mynio’s focus and attention to detail in the defensive zone make him a low-maintenance player who rarely allows high-danger scoring chances. He maintains a tight gap in the neutral zone, quickly retrieves pucks, and efficiently moves them out of his zone and up the ice” – Donesh Mazloum, FC Hockey (from ‘24906 – Seattle vs. Peterborough Game Report’, FC Hockey, 5/31/23).
- Hockey IQ
- Attention to detail
- Defensive game
- Work ethic
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Skating mechanics
Mynio has the potential to become a defenceman like Slavin or Tanev in his prime. He won’t get on the highlight reel for a big goal or assist but for a fearless blocked shot or smart defensive play. While those aren’t as exciting, they are just as key to a victory. Even if he doesn’t hit the heights of the top-four, his smarts and work ethic should guarantee him a floor of a bottom-pairing defenceman that regularly kills penalties.
Risk – 3.5/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 4/10, Defence – 8/10
Mynio was a WHL champion with the Thunderbirds in 2022-23 and played in the Memorial Cup Final