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Ayrton Martino: 2021 NHL Draft Prospect Profile; A Dual-Threat Offensive Wing

Ayrton Martino was one of the top offensive players in the USHL last season. There’s no doubting his high end offensive skills but his defensive game could see him slide out of the 1st round.

The latter stages of the opening round of the draft are usually filled with intriguing prospects that can be one-dimensional. Ayrton Martino is one of these prospects. The left wing is a dual-threat offensively, capable of creating for himself and his teammates. Other areas of his game need work, especially his defensive play. In today’s profile we will get to know Martino’s game and see if he could be worth a late 1st round selection.

Who is Ayrton Martino?

According to his Elite Prospects profile, Ayrton Martino is a 5’10”, 170 lbs. left-handed shooting left wing from Toronto, Ontario. He was born on September 28, 2002 so he is one of the older players in this draft class. He came up through the Toronto Titans program before moving on to the St. Michael’s Buzzers and Omaha Lancers. He is set to play college hockey at Clarkson University next season. Let’s take a closer look at what he’s done in his young career by looking at that Elite Prospects profile.

In 2017-18, as a member of the Toronto Titans U16 AAA team of the Greater Toronto Hockey League U16 AAA (GTHL U16), Martino was 2nd on the team in scoring with 22 goals and 30 assists for 52 points in 50 games. He trailed Colorado Avalanche prospect Jean-Luc Foudy (3/75, 2020) by 8 points, however Martino appeared in 2 less games. He was 3rd in the league in scoring as he trailed Winnipeg Jets prospect Cole Perfetti (1/10, 2020), who had 61 points in 33 games to lead the league. This strong season put him on the radar of junior teams in both Ontario and the United States. He was selected in the 12th round, 227th overall, of the 2018 OHL Priority Selection Draft by the Guelph Storm and in the 8th round, 111th overall, of the 2018 USHL Entry Draft by the Des Moines Buccaneers.

In 2018-19, he moved on to play for the St. Michael’s Buzzers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL). He finished 6th on the team in scoring with 10 goals and 32 assists for 42 points in 49 regular season games. That production was good enough to lead his fellow 2021 NHL draft peers in scoring in the league by quite a large margin. The 2nd place scorer in that group, David Gucciardi, had 18 points in 47 games. He stepped up for the Buzzers in the playoffs too with 2 goals and 8 assists for 10 points in 11 games to finish 3rd in scoring. This breakout season further improved his stock and he ended up being re-drafted into the USHL. The Madison Capitols selected him with the 12th overall pick in the 2019 USHL Entry Draft.

In 2019-20, he went back to St. Michael’s for another season of OJHL play. He led the team in scoring with 29 goals and 50 assists for 79 points in 48 games. He was 3rd in scoring in the league and once again led his fellow 2021 NHL Draft eligibles by a considerable margin. He was once again productive in the playoffs with 2 goals and 4 assists for 6 points in 4 games. He ended up earning OJHL Second All-Star Team honors. Martino also earned some international experience as he put up 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points in as many games for Canada East U19 at the World Junior A Challenge. Those totals gave him a share of the team lead in scoring.

Of course, it has to be noted that many legitimate NHL draft prospects spend their pre-draft season playing major junior hockey, however it is good to see that Martino continued to progress. This also kept his option open to continue his development path through college hockey which can be a beneficial way for a small but skilled player like him.

Martino would spend his draft season of 2020-21 with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League (USHL). He nearly played for the Chilliwack Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) with the OJHL on pause due to the pandemic. However, the USHL emerged as the best place to get game time for him so he ended up joining Omaha who had room for him. He repaid Omaha’s trust in him by leading the team in scoring with 18 goals and 38 assists for 56 points in 38 regular season games. He was 8th in the league in scoring and led all rookies based on raw totals. Fellow 2021 NHL Draft prospect Cole Sillinger was 2nd with 46 points in 31 games which gave him a slightly better points per game rate (by 0.01). Martino averaged 2.29 shots per game and shot at a really high 20.69%.

According to Pick 224, Martino ranked 3rd in Primary Points per Game (1.13), 13th in Even Strength Primary Points per Game (0.63), 3rd in Power Play Primary points per game (0.45), and 7th in Total Primary Points per Estimated 60 Minutes (3.33). For this strong offensive season, Martino earned USHL All-Rookie Team and USHL Second All-Star Team honors. Martino is now set to join Clarkson University for the 2021-22 season. Now that we know a little bit about what he’s done, let’s check out where he is ranked and what type of skills he brings to the ice.

Where is Ayrton Martino Ranked?

Below are some of the publicly available rankings for Martino. Some feel that he is without a doubt a 1st round talent while others seem to think that the holes in his game make him more of a 2nd round talent.

Here is an explanation of why Byron Bader of Hockey Prospecting ranked Martino where he did:

Martino is another player that seems to be ranked far too low, he probably doesn’t even go in the first round, maybe not even the second. Why is he ranked so low? The usual culprits apply, he’s on the smaller side and not playing in the CHL or USDP. As well, Martino was playing in the OJHL in his pre-draft year, before switching over to the USHL. Players switching from lower level leagues in their pre-draft years are sometimes overlooked (Mangiapane, for instance). Martino, I don’t believe, is a future superstar but has a good likelihood of being a useful NHLer. He had good but not elite production in his pre-draft year, good but not elite production in his draft year. He compares with wingers like Ethan Moreau, Raffi Torres and Joshua Bailey.

What Others Say About Ayrton Martino

The first scouting report comes from John Gove of The Draft Analyst. In regards to Martino’s skating and stickhandling:

An explosive skater, Martino’s first few strides ease his ability to pull away or catch opposing players. His speed serves as a true difference-maker, creating fast-break opportunities out of unlikely scenarios.

Preferring to move at high speed and pace, Martino occasionally mishandles puck, diminishing quality scoring or leading to turnovers. These instances do not occur at a frequency that causes mass amounts of concern.

Martino’s skating, especially when it comes to creating breakaways, is an aspect that really stands out about his game. It seems that Martino will need to further improve his consistency when stickhandling to get it to catch up to the rest of his game though.

In regards to Martino’s shooting, passing, and playmaking:

An offensively imaginative forward, Martino possesses a high-level hockey IQ...With an elite scoring drive, Martino’s primary focus is attacking the net and producing a high-danger chance on goal, either off his stick or a teammate’s. Martino’s shot is both accurate and robust; this is most prevalent in his slot or mid-range opportunities.

His passes are accurate, easily handled, and lead their intended target so they can remain in motion towards the net.

In regards to Martino’s defense and physicality:

When he determines the opposition’s attempt dead, he is quick to make his move up the ice, waiting for a break-out pass. However, if the opposition regains possession, Martino finds himself out of position and compromised.

This will surely be something he needs to iron out of his game to progress at the professional level. It’s one thing to try to be aggressive to be available for a breakout to create a scoring chance. However, hanging his team out to dry in the defensive zone is a sure way to end up on the bench.

Martino has an intense compete level and doesn’t take shifts off...Martino may not look physically intimidating or deliver crushing hits, but he relies on a nonstop motor to continuously battle and support his defensemen in the corners or pressure the heck out of the opposing point men.

Despite his defensive shortcomings, you will read that often that Martino is a hard-worker that is non-stop on the ice. For that reason, I think he can round out his game to be a more complete player since he has the work ethic to do so.

In regards to his hockey sense and projection:

A highly intelligent player, Martino processes the game at an elite level. His creativity and vision allow him to create quality scoring opportunities at a high frequency, making him a player others must account for at all times.

Premier two-way winger and special-teams mainstay.

That seems like a a lofty projection but with Martino’s skills, hockey sense, and work ethic, it’s no wonder that his potential is that high. It will be interesting to see if he can fulfill it.

Next, we have this scouting report from Ben Kerr of Last Word on Sports. He breaks down Martino’s game by skating, offensive game, defensive game, and offers a projection and comparison.

In regards to Martino’s skating:

His stride is nearly textbook perfect and this leads to great speed as well as outstanding acceleration. His ability to change speeds also helps him to avoid defenders and create space...His agility and edgework are also very good.

This is another glowing report of Martino’s skating, especially when it comes to him overwhelming defenses to create scoring chances.

In regards to Martino’s offensive game:

As mentioned, Martino’s speed is a real threat and helps him to generate breakaways and odd-man rushes. He has the soft hands to finish those plays. He also has a powerful wrist shot and snapshot...he has the passing skills to get the puck through tight areas and set up a scoring chance. Martino is extremely creative and his one-on-one skills create passing and shooting lanes.

Martino sometimes loses control of the puck when moving at top speed, or he needs to slow down to better control it. He could also stand to improve the accuracy on his shots.

This seems to back up a lot of what was in the The Draft Analyst report. Martino is a real threat offensively and still stands to further take his game to the next level if he can improve his stickhandling and shooting accuracy.

In regards to Martino’s defensive game:

He uses his hockey IQ to read the play and anticipate where an opponent may go with the puck. This helps him to create turnovers by intercepting passes. Once a turnover is created, he is quick to move the puck up the ice to create offensive chances.

This report does note that sometimes Martino gets burned by breaking out of the zone too quickly or over-committing. Still, it seems like his defensive shortcomings are things that can be coached out of him to some degree.

In regards to Martino’s projection and comparison:

Martino has the offensive skill to develop into a top-six winger...Martino’s game is reminiscent of Alex Tanguay.

That agrees with the general consensus that Martino has what it takes to be a top 6 wing.

Next, we have this report from Paul Zuk of Smaht Scouting. He describes Martino’s style of play:

As talented of a passer Martino is, he’s just as excellent at being a playmaker. He loves to push the play out wide when breaking into the offensive the zone, allowing him the most space possible to set up his linemates with a beautiful pass or a scoring chance in tight.

Martino also possesses a silky set of hands, and can elude defenders in limited space with ease.

Martino thrives in a run-and-gun offense like the one Omaha uses, where he’s able to control possession of the puck, and dictate the majority of the Lancers’ high danger offensive chances.

From all of these reports, Martino certainly comes across as an exciting player to watch in the offensive zone.

In regards to Martino’s skating:

Martino seems to generate his explosiveness is by using crossovers to maximize his speed and acceleration, especially in transition and during controlled zone entries. He also has really quick feet, and a strong, semi-wide stance that allows him a nice blend of speed and balance on the ice.

Once again, another glowing report about Martino’s skating and his ability to utilize it.

In regards to Martino’s offensive and usage game:

Not only is Martino deadly at 5v5 play, he’s also a lethal powerplay set-up man. He always seems to be the catalyst for Lancers’ powerplay tallies, as noted by Martino seeing an average north of 4.5 minutes of powerplay time per game. Quite often, Martino is able to play as the 4th forward at the point on the powerplay, allowing him more space to read the ice and deliver a pass.

For any shortcomings that Martino may have away from the offensive zone, it seems his calling to the NHL could be as a 2nd/3rd line wing that contributes heavily on the PP. The defensive part of this report pretty much echos what the other reports have said about his defensive shortcomings. It does note, as others did, that he could be useful on the PK due to his speed and work ethic.

Finally, let’s see what the projection models think about Martino. Below is the Hockey Prospecting model:

The projection model by Patrick Bacon of Top Down Hockey gives Martino a 7.81 Star% and 34.02 NHLer%. I’ve noticed that this model tends to give lesser odds as a whole to the majority of prospects so it’s a nice contrast to the Hockey Prospecting model.

A Little Video

The first video we have comes from Will Scouch of Scouching on YouTube. If you want to learn everything about Martino’s game and projection, then check out this video. Scouch goes into detail about Martino as a “duel threat” offensive player. Scouch talks about how Martino is a great playmaker and is capable of creating his own chances. He also goes into how Martino relies on his teammate in transitions to move the puck. He also notes that Martino needs a lot of work defensively. Still, there seems to be a lot to like about Martino’s game from an offensive perspective.

The next video we have comes from Prospect Film Room on YouTube. This video is a highlights package from Martino’s USHL season.

Finally, we have a shift by shift of Martino from Devils in the Details Podcast on YouTube. If you want to get a good idea of how he performs over the course of a game, then check this one out.

An Opinion of Sorts

I find Martino to be a really interesting prospect for a few reasons. First, he’s a highly skilled player that can do it all in the offensive zone. He can shoot from dangerous areas, thread passes in tight areas, and move his feet to open up space for himself and teammates. He’s equally talented as a shooter and playmaker which isn’t usually something you get from a wing. If he can reach his potential, he could be a real asset as a middle 6 wing (in my opinion) that contributes to PP1 on a consistent basis.

When it comes to his shortcomings, I think there is a way around them to some extent. He’s not great in transition (excluding breakaways or odd man rushes) but you could pair him with other forwards that can carry the bulk of the transitional load. Once in the offensive zone, Martino is golden, so getting him the right linemates could make him a real threat. His major shortcoming is his defensive play but it’s not due to lack of hard work. He’s guilty of over-committing or trying to cheat out of the zone early to create a scoring chance the other way. By all accounts he is a hard worker, constantly moving, and thinks the game at a high level. Good coaching and more experience can certainly improve that area of his game. As a smaller player, I like that he will be going the college route. Two or three seasons playing against tough opposition in college should prepare him well for the professional level.

With all that said, he’s a player I would have on my radar for the Devils late 1st round pick. He’s not necessarily my top choice but he’s on my short list of players that I expect to be around. I’m always open to betting on a player with high end offensive skill and hoping the rest of his game rounds out. I think he could certainly be worth a shot at that spot, though I suspect he doesn’t get drafted until the early stages of the 2nd round.

Your Take

What are your thoughts on Ayrton Martino? Do you view him as a 1st round talent? Would you want the Devils to target him with their late 1st round pick? Would you be satisfied if they selected him? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!