2024 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Daniil Ustinkov

DobberProspects.com' Hadi Kalakeche
15.09.2023; Zuerich; Eishockey National League - ZSC Lions - HC Ajoie; Daniil Ustinkov (ZSC) (Patrick Straub/freshfocus)

The Scouting Report

At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, defenseman Daniil Ustinkov is a defensive defenseman who can shut down the opposition. Well-rounded, he takes pride in playing a 200-foot game. Although he is not an elite point producer, he will jump into the play when needed. He is physical enough to win battles in front of the net and clear the crease of any opponents. He is a high-risk, high-reward player. Ustinkov has already committed to play the 2024-25 season for GC/Kusnacht U20 of U20-Elite, GC Kusnacht Lions of Swiss League (SL), and ZSC of the National League (NL).

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Draft Projections

Ranked #113 by EliteProspects.com
Ranked #94 by THN/ Kennedy
Ranked #72 by Daily Faceoff
Ranked #34 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)
Ranked #49 by DobberProspects
Ranked #64 by Conrad Jack of Inside the Rink

I’ve highlighted some of Daniil Ustinkov’s attributes. Let’s take a deeper dive into his attributes and areas for improvement.

Speed Skater

Ustinkov can change the game flow with his speed as this kid can fly. His edgework is tremendous and he does not take long to get to top speed. This helps him weave through the neutral zone and set up plays offensively. His defensive awareness is above average due to him being able to cover multiple players down low and in the slot. He can play the transition game with his outlet passes and ability to join the rush.

“I think he knows he’s skilled and tries to do too much, but doesn’t have the ability to make up for mistakes. Ustinkov has shown often he can be one of Switzerland’s best defenders, but consistency is an issue. High-risk, high-reward.”- Steven Ellis- Daily Faceoff- March 28th

Puck Possession

Ustinkov has a great puck-possession game in all three zones. He does not give the puck away that easy, making sure he has the time and space to feed the puck to a teammate. Behind the net, he holds the puck until there is an opening, and if there is not one, he will skate the puck out to make sure no turnovers occur. The puck is always on his stick as he surveys the space on the ice and waits for the perfect opportunity.

 “He closes gaps, jumps on loose pucks and attacks small mistakes in puckhandling made by the opposing team. He’s also an incredibly efficient transition passer who hits teammates with crisp passes in stride.”- Tony Ferrari- The Hockey News- April 15th

Areas for Improvement

Consistency

In most games, Ustinkov is a noticeable player on the ice due to his skill set and patience. However, some nights stand out for the wrong reason, as he does have consistency issues. He is too good of a player to have many off nights, but it does happen, likely because he is still young. Those consistency mistakes are corrected with the right organization but must be addressed.

Cannot recover from mistakes

If Ustinkov has a turnover, it sticks with him for many plays. For instance, a goal against and the odd icing call from pushing the puck too hard. He does have consistency issues due to some mistakes, but the only one who can correct those is Ustinkov. He often gets flustered when errors occur and looks for teammates to fix the issue.

Prospect Potential

Ustinkov has the potential to be a second-pairing defenseman in the NHL. He will not lead the team in points however, will be a key player and play some important minutes. He will be the defenseman who stays back and plays defense while his partner is the one joining the rush. Ustinkov is a defensive player who may score 15-20 points a season but still be effective.

Best Potential Fit

Ustinkov is a big mystery when it comes to the draft. This draft is filled with an offensive defenseman, so he may get lost in the shuffle. However, every team needs a good solid defenseman who plays his zone well. That is where the Seattle Kraken at #63 comes in. The Kraken are a fast team who create offense every time down the ice. Ustinkov would use his skill set to stay back to retrieve the puck and place a nice outlet pass to a teammate. He is a good, solid defender, and that is what he will offer to the Kraken.

Final Thought

In a time when the NHL is looking for offense and teams are looking for offensive players, Ustinkov is still valuable because of his skill set. He will have a role on a team because every team needs players like him in the lineup. Plenty of defensemen in the NHL are good players even when they lack offense. Ustinkov will have no issues finding a position with an NHL team.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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