Who is Nick Pastujov?
Nick Pastujov is a winger who played this past season with the US National Team Development Program and is committed to the University of Michigan for the 2016-17 season. Pastujov, a native of Bradenton, Florida, is from the Sun Belt but has played his junior hockey over the past several seasons in the Rust Belt up in Michigan. Despite being drafted by the Ontario Hockey League's Saginaw Spirit, Pastujov chose to go to the USNTDP/USHL instead and now in the fall he will head to the NCAA. He has also represented the USA's U-17 and U-18 teams at Worlds in the past two seasons, respectively. While not necessarily a big player, Pastujov has decent enough size, checking in at 6'-0" and 196 pounds. His stats from Elite Prospects are shown in the table below:
While his recent stats don't necessarily jump off the page, Pastujov is a player who has been touted as having high-end offensive skill and coming out of the bantam ranks was coveted by a lot of teams in both the CHL and the NCAA. Pastujov's numbers seem to indicate that he has some development left to do, though, if those expectations are to be realized. He was a big time scorer with the bantam-level Honeybaked teams, but hasn't seen that fully translate to the USNTDP. Despite not having gaudy numbers for the USDP Team overall, he has put up 6 goals and 12 points in 13 games at the big U-17 and U-18 world tourneys the past two years, so he seems to be able to answer the bell offensively when called upon. Based on some of what is out there on him, he has the skill to be a dynamic offensive player but he also has a decently well-rounded game and is willing to work hard in the ice. He just needs to put it all together to translate to the next level.
Given that Pastujov is a bit of a project, where he shows up in rankings reflects that fact. In the NHL's final rankings from Central Scouting, he was the 112th ranked North American skater. Since he falls into the later round range of the draft, he doesn't show up on a ton of the available draft rankings, but in Steve Kournianos top 250 at The Draft Analyst, Pastujov was slotted in a 141 on the list, putting him in the 5th-round range. Elsewhere, Corey Pronman has him in the "honorable mention" section of his top 100 at ESPN.
What Others Are Saying About Nick Pastujov
As his development curve has slowed down the past year or so, not all of what has been written on Pastujov is particularly recent. As a highly regarded player coming out of bantam, there was a lot of focus on the skill aspect of his game, though his stats seem to have fallen behind some of those early projections. This bit from Bill Placzek at Draft Site. reflects a little bit more updated view of Pastujov as a prospect:
Ellenton rink rat and Bradenton Florida native and USNTDP Junior team member is solidly built six footer who is still developing, and has no weaknesses that will be impediments in the growth process. A lunch pail centre who might project to the wing, he finishes his checks and plays hard in both ends. Scored two important goals at the U-18 Five Nations in February. He has committed to the University of Michigan.
So a couple takeaways from this are that Pastujov is a player who still has some developing to do to have a shot at making an impact, but there isn't any particular major weakness that is holding him back. If he can translate some of the skill that has been touted into tangible production as he heads into college, he could be a good bargain pickup at the draft.
For an example of what he was projecting as a couple years ago, we can go to Maize N Brew, where Joe Wolke wrote this in January of 2015 on the Michigan commit:
A quick winger with high end skill, Pastujov combines smooth hands and impressive stick skills with dynamic playmaking. He handles well in tight spaces, makes smart plays with the puck and is an excellent skater. He also has shown a willingness to throw his weight around as a forechecker and can give the opposing team fits with an active stick in the neutral zone.
That piece also pegged Pastujov as a potential first-round pick at that time, which is likely a little bit of wishful thinking by a Michigan-centric blog, but also reflective on how impressive the winger was coming out of Bantam. There definitely seems to be some potential that has yet to be tapped for Pastujov as he was seen as a big time scorer and playmaker early on. Based on both of these excerpts, though he doesn't seem to be a guy who lacks for effort.
A Little Video
Not much of any video seems to be available for Pastujov currently, but there is this interview where he talks about the All-American Prospects Game last fall:
An Opinion of Sorts
Nick Pastujov is a player who definitely seems to fit the "project" mold of someone you might take in the later rounds of the draft. He has shown that he has skill before and has had some flashes of brilliance but just has yet to put things together for whatever reason. He seems like a hard-working player so effort doesn't necessarily look like it's the issue, he just has to find what works at the higher levels of the game. Given that he will be heading to the NCAA this coming season, he will get some time to develop and figure it out before the team that drafts him has to make a decision. He's not a player that many will covet right now, but few players selected in the late rounds will be. With skill, good work ethic, and and some room to improve he seems like a decent fifth to seventh round pick for whoever selects him.
So what do you think of Nick Pastujov as a potential late-round pick? Do you think he has a shot to realize the potential he had coming out of bantams? Does that fact that he will have time to develop in the NCAA affect your opinion at all? Would you be opposed to selecting him for any reason? Comment with your thoughts below and thanks for reading.