If the name ‘Pastujov’ sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because Sasha is the youngest of three hockey brothers — older siblings Nick and Michael play at the University of Michigan and Nick was a seventh round draft pick of the New York Islanders in 2016. Though they reside in Michigan, the Pastujov family has ties to the Tampa area — they lived in Bradenton — and Sasha’s brothers grew up watching the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Sasha, though, will definitely be the highest-drafted Pastujov sibling once the NHL Draft rolls around in 2021. While he is also the most offensively-inclined of the Pastujovs, the talented playmaker is committed to the University of Notre Dame (not Michigan, shockingly) and finished tied for first in points on the USNTDP’s U-17 team this season.
Arguably one of the best passers of this draft class, Pastujov’s confidence and poise with the puck is already at an elite level. His passes are crisp and clean, and he anticipates his teammates well. Pastujov can take the puck end-to-end, and defenders will struggle to push him off pucks. His ability to separate himself from opponents and create space for himself is excellent.
He’s also a dual scoring threat — Pastujov will either pass off to one of his teammates, or put the puck in the back of the net himself. Even more deadly is his ability to find teammates when not on the rush. Pastujov can turn defenders inside out with spinorama or behind-the-back passes through the crease for his teammates to tap in.
Pastujov also reads the ice well and puts himself in opportune positions when he doesn’t have the puck. A strong skater, Pastujov can drive to open areas of the ice to receive passes from teammates. His agility and edgework gives him solid lateral mobility, and Pastujov can change directions quickly while maintaining control of the puck. His stride could benefit from more power and explosiveness from his first few steps, but when Pastujov gets moving, he’s difficult to catch.
His shot is definitely not a weakness, but Pastujov could and should use it more often. Though a left shot, Pastujov plays on his off-wing, which opens up a lot more space for him to shoot at the net. He tends to rely on his hands and playmaking abilities from above the hash marks and drives the net for rebound or tap-in goals. Pastujov’s shot is an underrated asset of his game, and he has the ability to score longer-range goals.
Strengths: Playmaking, Vision, Instincts
To Improve: Skating, Shot
Throughout the season he showed a good ability to beat defenders on the outside or inside with his hands and speed. On multiple occasions, he used his speed and puck handling skill to carry the puck with confidence through the neutral and offensive zones while keeping his head up. Sasha’s best attribute is his playmaking skill using his high-end hockey intelligence and anticipation to make elite level plays with his hands. [2019 Black Book]
Few kids his age can pass a puck like Pastujov. Set to join the University of Notre Dame after finishing his junior career, Pastujov is smart when distributing the puck, using his body to shield himself from attackers and he’s also adept at finding lanes to pass off to his teammates. A momentum skater, Pastujov has 12 assists and 17 points in 15 games with the U-17 U.S. NTDP and should have no issue holding a point-per-game mark for the rest of the season before joining older brother Nick as an NHL draft pick. [The Hockey News]
He has proven to be one of the top ’03 prospects in North America, thanks to an elite-level sense and understanding of the game, along with tremendous puck skills that make him a legitimate scoring threat each time he takes the ice. [Prospect Pipeline]
Sasha Pastujov (#9 2021) commands the next line as the premier playmaker on the team. ”Pasta” led the World U17s in assists, tied with only a defensemen and teammate we’ll get to eventually. His passes are crisp, accurate, and saucy. Sasha is terrific at creating space and using it to set up his linemates. [The Prospect Network]
Here is the Chaz Lucius breakaway tally. Take nothing away from the talented Lucius and the gorgeous finish, but how about the work from Sasha Pastujov?— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) November 4, 2019
Engine never stops and then he ends up with the puck and his pass springs Lucius. #NTDP #WorldU17 #GoIrish pic.twitter.com/ff0vWCBqQR
The U17s take the lead on a pretty goal from Sasha Pastujov. He corrals a loose puck along the half boards, dekes the defender and beats Colin Purcell low, blocker side. #NTDP #GoIrish— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) October 25, 2019
Team 2 Phantoms 1 pic.twitter.com/4WWLLs9ro6
To me, Sasha Pastujov is a cant miss prospect and likely top 10 pick. His playmaking is through the roof and is extremely poised and patient with the puck. Defenses also have to respect his ability to rifle pucks up top from anywhere.— TPEHockey (@TPEHockey) January 16, 2020
Pastujov is my #8-6 for the #2021NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/dDR0jqpk2a
Brendan Brisson coughs up the puck at the blue line and that sends the U17s on a two-on-none break.— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) February 17, 2020
Sasha Pastujov skates in and gives to Ryan St. Louis for the finish. #NTDP #HowlinHuskies #GoIrish pic.twitter.com/acdLibVSTa
Statistics from Elite Prospects and USA Hockey.