The Vancouver Canucks addressed a major need in their prospect pool with their first two picks at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, selecting two right-side defencemen in Tom Willander and Hunter Brzustewicz.
With their third pick, the Canucks completely switched things up and picked a left-side defenceman: Sawyer Mynio.
The 6’1” Mynio might be considered a reach with the 89th pick in the third round, as several public draft rankings did not even see fit to rank Mynio at all and those that did saw him as a late-round pick at best. FC Hockey ranked Mynio 167th overall, McKeen’s Hockey ranked him 176th, and Draft Prospects had him 232nd overall. Of note, there are only 224 picks in the draft.
Clearly, the Canucks are a lot higher on Mynio than those in the public sphere. They would have had plenty of chances to see him play, as he patrolled the blue line for the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL, putting up 31 points in 68 games in the regular season, then 4 points in 19 playoff games.
Even if Mynio didn’t regularly jump off the ice with his play, scouts praised his quiet, detailed game.
“Mynio’s a capable rush defender, steadily smothering the opposition by forcing attackers to the outside and matching their footwork,” reads his Elite Prospects scouting report. “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.”
That said, Elite Prospects didn’t see fit to rank Mynio, rating him a D-grade prospect. While Mynio is steady at the WHL level, prospects typically need to have a standout ability to make the jump to the NHL.
Some suggest that Mynio’s defence could be that standout ability.
“Defense is the primary strength of Mynio’s game, and he excels in this area,” said FC Hockey’s Donesh Mazloum in one scouting report. “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.”
Mynio’s awareness in the defensive zone and intelligence in his positioning could give him an NHL future, as long as the physical tools develop to make best use of his brain.
Mynio seems like an intriguing project for the Canucks’ newly-rebuilt development team, as he has a good head for the game but needs work on the mechanical elements of his skating and stickhandling. If those aspects can take a step forward, this could turn out to be a great pick for the Canucks.