This is the sixth in a series of in-depth profiles covering each member of the Colorado Avalanche 2019 draft class. The entire series can be found HERE.
After diverging entirely from the WHL in the previous draft the Avalanche were back focusing on the league in their 2019 draft class as they selected Sasha Mutala at 140th Overall in the fifth round from the Tri-City Americans. The 6-foot-1 and 196 lbs right shot right wing was their second of four selections from the league and a smart strategy to mine the later rounds for good value on passed over talent from the WHL.
Mutala began his major junior career with Tri-City in 2017-18 after selection at 6th overall in the WHL bantam draft. There he had a successful rookie campaign with 26 points in 68 games and was poised to have a big draft year. However the 2018-19 season proved to be a difficult one for Mutala as both of his parents suffered serious health issues during the year which caused him to leave the team and go home at one point. He finished the season with 41 points including 20 goals in 65 games. NHL Central Scouting had Mutala 79th in their final ranking which was a drop after Mutala had a lot of early round interest on him going into his draft year.
There is capacity for increased production moving forward as Mutala has some interesting context to his numbers. He surprisingly only scored five points on the power play and clearly was not given much opportunity on the man advantage. Therefore 17 of his 20 goals were scored at even strength and furthermore 29 of his 41 points were even strength primary points showing that Mutala was an impact player where he could make a difference. If he can increase his shot volume from just under 2.5 shots per game Mutala should see an uptick in goal scoring as well. He plays with high energy and a good work ethic when he’s focused and makes a lot of high skill plays with his hands. Increased talent level around him in Tri-City would also help Mutala on the scoresheet. Combine all this with Mutala’s role naturally growing as he gets older and more experienced to see that he could be poised for a breakout.
Internationally Mutala has been involved with Hockey Canada and was part of the 2019 gold medal winning Hlinka Gretzky team. Mutala had a big role as a complimentary winger on one of the top lines and produced four points in five games including two goals in the gold medal game. His playmaking ability was on display as well seen below on a nifty pass to Jakob Pelletier. Mutala was also participant at the CHL Top Prospects Game, an event largely for draft eligible first and second round track prospects, along with Bowen Byram however they were on separate teams.
At development camp the skill level was apparent as was the shiftiness in his game. Mutala plays with a high level motor and is a playmaker when he is at his best. There was some rawness and inconsistency with Mutala but also flashes, which is very typical of those just drafted players at their first camp.
As a player born in May of 2001 Mutala has two years of his junior career remaining and the perfect timing to get his development on track and gain some consistency and earn a NHL contract. Mutala projects as someone who can contribute in an energy type role but has enough skill to possibly play in the middle six. Mutala is a young and raw prospect so there’s a lot yet to be uncovered.
As always, a shift by shift look from Rudo3.