This drafting thing is getting to be old hat for Kitchener Rangers’ left winger Adam Mascherin. At least, he is familiar enough with the process to be a little less stressed about the prospect of having his name called at this year’s NHL Draft.
Mascherin was the second selection in the OHL Priority Selection in 2014, behind only defenseman Jakob Chychurn, another highly touted prospect for this year’s draft.
“I think it’s easier this time around even though it’s the NHL Draft. Well, it’s been easier for me because I’ve learned to relax and learned to just worry about playing hockey,” Mascherin said. “I guess the pieces will fall into place for me. I’m just worried about doing my best on the ice, and whatever happens outside of the rink is going to happen.
“The OHL draft, they do it so they can prepare you for the NHL Draft. It’s just an experience, going to a new place, meeting new people, and developing as a person and a player. That’s what this league is for – to develop you as a person and a player and to get you ready for the NHL.”
Mascherin is ranked 42nd overall by NHL Central Scouting in its final rankings, up from 57th overall at the mid-term. This comes after a season where he finished with 35 goals and 81 points in 65 games. Mascherin has long been highly regarded for his offensive talents, but the one knock on him in some people’s eyes has been something he can’t control – his size. At 5’9-5’10, he’s not the prototypical height that some teams favor.
“I hear it, but I don’t feel it. People will tell you all the time, ‘Oh, he’s not going to go high,’ or ‘He’s not going to go as high as he would like to because he’s not tall. But I say I think I can play pretty well on the ice,” he said. “I don’t want to sound cocky at all, because that’s not the kind of guy that I am, but I do have confidence in my game, I think I’ve come a long way, and I think I’ve proven to people that I can play at a high level.”
He added that he draws inspiration from players like the London Knights’ Mitch Marner, who he faced in the second round of the OHL playoffs. Marner was selected fourth overall in the 2015 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“He’s a perfect example of why height isn’t as much of a huge deal any more in hockey,” Mascherin said. “The guy scores highlight-reel goals and puts up 100 points two years in a row and he’s not over six feet. I’m not sure if he is exactly. The game is changing and he’s an example of that.”
Another factor in his rise, Mascherin said, has been his focus on defense. He entered the league known for his offense, but he wanted to ensure that he didn’t ignore the other aspect of his game. And he has seen a benefit to his offensive play as a result.
“I focused on it and I’ve been developing it a lot. I thank my coaches for putting in the time and effort – little things like watching video has helped me a lot,” he said. “It’s also helped transition to more offense because the less time you spend in your own end, the more time you can play offence.”
It’s been hard work, he said, but you have to be willing to put in the effort because, while offense is a gift, defense can be learned.
“I think everything is a skill you have. When you get to this level, everyone can play,” Mascherin added. “I don’t think you can teach a guy to score goals, but I think you can teach a guy where to be positionally to get in the right spots and to translate to offense.”
Mascherin has been a big part of the Rangers’ success this year, and he said he believes it only helps his stock rise.
“I think it just helps. Everyone wants to draft winners. You see the guys that win Memorial Cups – their draft stock just rises so much because they’ve gone so far and they’ve had that experience,” he said. “I think it helps when you have winning guys on your team who know what it takes. For example, the Chicago Blackhawks – they’ve won the Cup numerous times in the last handful of years, and that’s because they have experience on their team, as opposed to a young Toronto team that doesn’t have that experience.”
Mascherin grew up in Maple, ON, about a half-hour outside of Toronto. He counts another noted goal scorer as an influence on his game.
“My favourite player growing up was Phil Kessel,” he said. “He was exciting to watch because he can shoot the puck and I like to think I can as well.”
Some scouts describe Mascherin as having an NHL-ready shot already. Again, that comes from hard work.
“I think I’ve always had touch around the net, but I shoot pucks constantly all day long in the summer time,” he said.
Though, unlike many hockey players, he hasn’t been able to translate his on-ice shot to the links.
“Golf? Nope. I tried it once and it wasn’t pretty,” he added, laughing.
The draft is approaching and Mascherin is continuing to work on his game. Despite his size, he is stocky and strong, and he wants to complement that with a little more burst.
“I want to work on my foot speed and explosiveness. I’m a strong guy and I’ve always been a strong guy. I don’t lose many puck battles, and my puck protection is good,” he said. “But I think my first three steps can use some work, so that’s something I’m going to work on in the summer.”
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