Photo Credit: Darren Francis Photography
Ayrton Martino is one of the oldest 2021 NHL Entry Draft eligible prospects, having suited up for the USHL’s Omaha Lancers this past season, where he saw his draft stock increase rapidly. Martino hails from Toronto, Ontario, and played his youth hockey with the Toronto Titans U16 AAA of the GTHL.
Martino was a point-per-game player during his time with the Titans, and that trend continued as he transitioned to play for the St. Michael’s Buzzers of the OJHL the following season. Martino tallied ten goals and 32 assists for 42 points in 49 games during his debut campaign for the Buzzers. His sophomore season for the Buzzers saw major improvement, as he racked up an impressive 29 goals and 50 assists for 79 points in 48 games.
To kick off the 2020/21 season, Martino began in the BCHL for the Chilliwack Chiefs, but when the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to play, he transferred to Omaha. Martino didn’t miss a beat joining up with the Lancers, as he recorded 18 goals and 38 assists for 56 points in only 38 games. He was also named the Lancers’ Forward of the Year, as voted on by his teammates.
For the 2021/22 season, Martino has committed to Clarkson University, where he’ll hope to build on some impressive seasons in the GTHL and USHL. Martino will look to develop his game further in Potsdam, NY under the watchful eye of Head Coach Casey Jones, and the entire Clarkson Golden Knights squad will be focused in on making it back to the NCAA Tournament.
D.O.B – September 28, 2002
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height – 5’10″
Weight – 170 lbs
Position – Left Wing
Handedness – Left
Martino’s Style Of Play
Martino is an extremely talented, creative passer of the puck. He always seems to look for the most unique ways to distribute the puck to his teammates (i.e. bank pass, wrap around pass, etc.), and more often than not, is successful at executing those difficult setups.
As talented of a passer Martino is, he’s just as excellent at being a playmaker. He loves to push the play out wide when breaking into the offensive the zone, allowing him the most space possible to set up his linemates with a beautiful pass or a scoring chance in tight.
Martino also possesses a silky set of hands, and can elude defenders in limited space with ease. He is also quite talented at handling the puck, especially throughout the neutral zone, where he’s able to put his offensive talents and impressive vision on full display.
Martino thrives in a run-and-gun offense like the one Omaha uses, where he’s able to control possession of the puck, and dictate the majority of the Lancers’ high danger offensive chances. Off the puck, Martino is relentless when it comes to pressuring defenders to retrieve the puck, and can be a pain to battle with, knowing that if he obtains possession, it could spell danger for his opponents.
An explosive skater with arguably the best breakaway speed in the 2021 Draft class, Martino can easily fly past defenders and catch them standing still more often than not. In watching film on Martino from this past season, it wasn’t a rare occurrence to see him have multiple breakaways per game.
Martino seems to generate his explosiveness is by using crossovers to maximize his speed and acceleration, especially in transition and during controlled zone entries. He also has really quick feet, and a strong, semi-wide stance that allows him a nice blend of speed and balance on the ice. He’s able to use his edges to escape any sort of trouble with a great deal of success.
Martino’s ability to generate a lot of speed in such a short time has earned him the respect from defenders around the USHL, as he can beat them both off the rush and while attacking in the offensive zone.
Without a doubt, the bread and butter of Martino’s game is certainly his dual- threat offense. There’s a finite list of players within the USHL who are better in the attacking third of the ice, and even fewer with the playmaking capabilities that Martino has.
Not only is Martino deadly at 5v5 play, he’s also a lethal powerplay set-up man. He always seems to be the catalyst for Lancers’ powerplay tallies, as noted by Martino seeing an average north of 4.5 minutes of powerplay time per game. Quite often, Martino is able to play as the 4th forward at the point on the powerplay, allowing him more space to read the ice and deliver a pass.
Martino has incredible vision on the ice, and can find even the most difficult passes and deliver them without issue. He seems to have a 360 degree view of the ice at all times. He is rarely caught with his head down, and is always looking for open ice to attack.
Martino’s shot is another aspect of his game that is well-rounded. He has a fairly quick release on his shot, but can be selective from where he chooses to shoot. However, he’s able to use his incredible playmaking skills as a decoy to fool opposing goaltenders, and utilize his powerful wrist shot to pick open corners with little difficulty.
His ability to keep his feet moving without the puck as he tries to exploit any ounce of open space in the offensive zone makes him such a nightmare to defend.
Perhaps the only weak point of Martino’s game is his ability to thrive in the defensive zone. That’s not to say he is one-dimensional, but his overall play in his own zone leaves a little bit to be desired.
Martino has a tendency to cheat a little bit in the defensive zone, as he’s locked in on creating offense. While that style of game may pay off in the USHL, Martino will definitely have to break that type of habit as he transitions into the next level.
Although Martino may be rough around the edges defensively, there are a couple of bright spots to his game. Even though Martino sees ~53% of his ice time in the offensive zone, he can also be utilized in a penalty killing role, as he can pressure defenders with his speed and use his active stick to effectively break up passes and remove the puck from the more dangerous areas.
Dobber Prospects Head of Scouting Tony Ferrari recently spoke with Martino regarding his ability to think offensively, even while playing defense. Have a listen:
It’s definitely an interesting perspective to base a defensive-style game plan around, but if it works, it works!
Feel free to check out Tony’s excellent work on Twitter! His handle is @theTonyFerrari.
While Martino’s offensive game is quite polished at this point, there are a few areas of his game he can look to bolster during the next couple of seasons. For instance, there are times where he struggles a little bit with his shot accuracy. It’s interesting to think about where his point totals could have been this past season if his accuracy was more consistent. Martino is incredibly patient with the puck, especially in the offensive zone, but with a little more patience when deciding to shoot the puck could pay dividends for his game.
If Martino hopes to succeed in more than just a top-6 role moving forward in his career, he’ll have to focus on developing his defensive game a little further, as mentioned above. It could be a factor of the system Omaha has implemented this past season, but Martino was more of a run-and-gun winger and was primarily focused on generating offense. It’s yet to be seen if he can adapt to a system that’s more structured defensively, but with the right coaching and work ethic, which Martino seems to have, he should be able to thrive in all three zones of the ice.
In the grand scheme of things, Ayrton Martino is a talented, offensive-minded playmaker with a natural eye for seeking out some exceptional passes. His playmaking ability is off the charts, which pretty much every NHL team should be looking for in a prospect.
Offensively, Martino comes as advertised. There isn’t much he doesn’t do exceptionally well in the attacking third of the ice, and would be a solid addition to every team’s prospect pipeline.
Defensively, his game could use some work, as mentioned above. Perhaps it’s more of a system implemented thing, but there’s little doubt Martino isn’t able to adapt relatively quickly to a more structured system.
Overall, Ayrton Martino would be a very good add to any NHL team looking to bolster it’s offensive output, especially if Martino can be had with a second-round pick. It’s hard to deny the skill and production Martino brings, and it would not come as a surprise to many if he’s selected with a late first round pick.
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Paul Zuk. If you would like to follow Paul on Twitter, his handle is @paulzuk_81.
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