2021 NHL Draft: Sharks select Artem Guryev in fifth round

Another off-the-board defender? Doug Wilson, why?

One again, the San Jose Sharks headed into a round with two selections, the first of which was their own at 135 overall. With this pick, the Sharks selected defender Artem Guryev from the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League.

The 6-foot-3, 198 pound defender must’ve been picked for his size, because this one is a bigger head-scratcher than the last defender they selected. Guryev did not play during the 2020-21 season, as the OHL was unable to host games during the coronavirus pandemic. Not every player was going to find a place to play abroad, however, prior to last season, he had appeared in only 14 OHL games, tallying two assists. He spent the majority of the season with the Lindsay Muskies of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, splitting six points evenly between goals and assists over 30 games, while racking up 66 penalty minutes.

Somehow, the Russian native was still ranked 180 overall by McKeen’s Hockey and 99 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. In The Hockey Writers’ ranking of the Top 10 Russian Prospects in this draft, Guryev earned an honorable mention.

What stands out about his play — and I’m sure this will come as a surprise — is his physicality. His offense comes through with an extremely powerful slapshot, though his raw point totals aren’t flashy. He’s said to be able to quarterback a power play, but is not really a goal-scorer himself.

Generously, Guryev projects as a bottom-pairing defender, with a somewhat limited skillset.

In 2018, he was described as such by Prospect Pipeline:

A beast on the blue line, Guryev is one of the hardest hitters among the ’03-born draft class. He isn’t afraid to break up offensive rushes with his body, often jumping into the neutral zone to throw an explosive open-ice, clean hit. He is a menace to go up against along the boards as well, as Guryev maintains tight gaps and can easily erase an opponents along the wall in the defensive zone.

As well, Guryev often showcases excellent offensive instincts as he will calculate opportune moments to join the rush and create odd-man rushes. From the blue line, Guryev is tremendous. He walks the line with poise and authority, and has a cannon of a shot that gets through traffic more often than not. He can also quarterback his team’s powerplay and moves the puck as well as anyone.

It’s worth mentioning that he was fifteen in that season and listed as 6-foot-2. As his peers have caught up to his size, there’s been less and less talk about the defender as a stand-out talent, especially outside of the physical aspects of the game.

This is definitely a Doug Wilson Sr. picks and I don’t love it.