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Prospect Update: Sasha Pastujov
By Thomas Harrington
Anaheim’s first third round pick from 2021, winger Sasha Pastujov, completed his final OHL season, playing for both the Guelph Storm and Sarnia Sting.
Pastujov started the season playing for Guelph, where he scored 11 goals and 19 points in 14 games. In November, he was traded to Sarnia for forward Max Namestnikov, a second round pick in 2023, a third round pick in 2024, a fifth round pick in 2025, and a fifth round pick in 2026. Pastujov continued scoring at an elite level with his new team, scoring 30 goals and 79 points in 46 games. If he had played for Sarnia the entire season and scored at the same points-per-game rate, he would have scored over 115 points last season, which would have led the OHL. Overall, he finished the season with 41 goals and 98 points in 60 games, finishing tied for ninth in goals and fourth in points in the OHL. Despite joining them part way through the season, Pastujov finished second in goals and third in points on Sarnia. He put up five points in one game last season, and had four points in seven games. Pastujov played in 16 playoff games for Sarnia and scored six goals and 19 points. Sarnia made it to the third round of the OHL playoffs where they lost in six games to the London Knights.
I had a few expectations for Pastujov last summer. First, I wanted him to put up better offensive numbers, which he certainly did by jumping from 76 to 98 points, despite playing in fewer games. Second, for him to continue to improve his staking. Pastujov’s skating will never be his strength, but it has gotten better in the two years since Anaheim drafted him. Third, to play for Team USA at the World Junior Championships. Unfortunately, he missed this one. While it hasn’t been officially said, this was probably at least partially because he decided to play in the OHL instead of the NCAA. Given the offensive numbers he was putting up, there’s no question that he deserved a spot on Team USA. Finally, I wanted him to be more consistent in his play. He had a great start to the 2021-2022 season but cooled off a little towards the end of the season. This past year, his longest pointless streak was three games, and that only happened once. Of his 30 multi-point games, 17 of them came in the new year, so he definitely hit this expectation.
This year, Pastujov will be turning pro and joining the San Diego Gulls. He’ll be one of several new, young faces in their lineup. With his first pro year ahead of him, I have a few expectations for Pastujov. First, I want him to get time on San Diego’s powerplay. He can score at an elite level and had 16 powerplay goals last season; he needs to translate that ability into the AHL. Second, for him to get top six minutes more often than not. He’s a young player and is going to struggle at times and play on the fourth line at times. But as long as he can keep that to a minimum and play in San Diego’s top six for a majority of the season, I’ll be happy.
The Ducks aren’t exactly flush with talent on their wings, and there’s a chance he could make his NHL debut as soon as this season, but that would surprise me. Instead, I think older prospects with more professional experience under their belt will get the call first. But, if Pastujov can come in and have a great rookie season for the Gulls, we could see his NHL debut as early as the 2024-2025 season. If he stumbles a bit this season and it takes him a while to establish himself, then that debut could be delayed by a year.
Pastujov is signed to a three-year entry level deal, and he’ll be a restricted free agent when it’s over. As long as he’s made his NHL debut by then, I anticipate the Ducks re-signing him, probably to a bridge deal. However, if he struggles and spends time in the ECHL, the Ducks could choose to not qualify him and let him leave as a free agent.
The next prospect update will be on Olen Zellweger.
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September 18th, 2023