With their fourth pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Nashville Predators selected another defender: Ryan Ufko of the USHL’s Chicago Steel.
Ufko—who checks in at 5’10”—notched ten goals and 39 points in 53 games on a stacked Chicago roster this season, leading all defenders on the team. Among all draft-eligible USHL defenders, Ufko was sixth in primary points per game (0.396) and 13th in even-strength primary points per game (0.189).
Ufko—who ranked 54th on my final draft board—is a smooth-skating defender who manages the puck calmly and confidently in transition. In my viewings, I picked up some inconsistencies in his skating mechanics and positioning on defense, but overall he’s a smart, active player who has the tools to improve his 1-on-1 defending as needed. On offense, he can get low, forceful shots on net from the point, giving his teammates plenty of chances for rebound goals.