June 24th is set to be one of the most important days in the Leafs’ recent history, when they’ll head up to the podium in Buffalo and take the top pick in the draft for the first time since 1985.
Understandably, all the focus that weekend will be on Auston Matthews.
But with another pick late in the first round and then again at the beginning of the second, Toronto will have chances to take a couple more important prospects.
Over the coming weeks, we want to take a look at who might be available in that 29-31 range that the Leafs could be pondering #AfterAuston.
Next up, Adam Mascherin of the Kitchener Rangers.
Scouting reports can be inconsistent, but one thing about Mascherin that is repeatedly mentioned is his shot. It’s basically been the hallmark of his junior career.
Mascherin is “undersized” at 5’9, but is a tank with a powerful frame at 205, and he knows how to use it. Here’s what Jeremy Crowe (always a good draft resource) had to say about Mascherin at Buckeye State Hockey:
We’ve discussed Mascherin’s wrist shot before, using terms like “pro-ready” and “elite”: it’s lightning fast, accurate, and can be released in tight spaces and with little wind-up. Mascherin tends to set up in prime scoring areas during games, unleashing his wrister from the high slot at even strength. On the powerplay, you can usually find Kitchener’s #23 camping out just to the right side of the net, using his strong base to shield himself and protect the puck, often pulling off a spin-and-fire technique that many NHL power forwards implement.
As Crowe also goes on to note in that piece, Mascherin is one of the best draft-eligibles in the country in terms of generating shots and scoring chances. But of course he has weaknesses, and his place in pre-draft rankings reflect that, ranging from the late first to late second round. As Corey Pronman mentioned in his final top 100 rankings, the motor certainly appears to be there, but Mascherin’s skating is a concern.
Overall, his team dominates the puck when he’s on the ice. He’s small, but he’s a very strong and competitive forward who wins more battles than he should for a smaller guy. Mascherin’s biggest flaw is his skating. He is a roughly average skater and notably below-average for a smaller player, in terms of his speed and first-step agility.
It’s clear from the heat map above that Mascherin indeed generates a lot from that right side, and his overall shot count is impressive. For draft-eligibles, that total of 258 shots-on-goal was good for second in the OHL behind Alex Debrincat of the Otters, as were his 35 goals (to Debrincat’s 50).
To get another glance at how Mascherin produced this year, let’s stack him up against Alex Nylander of the Steelheads, who could be a top five pick in this draft.
Should the Leafs be interested?
Mascherin seems to carry the tag of being underrated in this draft, and perhaps that’s size-driven. One thing we know about the Leafs is that they won’t shy away from skill due to someone falling below that magical 6’0 line, so he could be someone they’re considering.
There’s also a little bit of connection with Toronto already here, as Mascherin was part of a Rangers team that featured Leafs prospect Jeremy Bracco, who was also a tumbler in last year’s draft due to his shorter stature.
By most accounts Mascherin seems to be a tenacious forward who puts the work in to go along with some major skill, notably a big-league shot. His numbers point to him being a player who can obviously get a high volume of shots away and create plenty of scoring chances. No doubt when looking at the stats of these draft-eligibles across the country, Mascherin will be someone who catches the eye of the Leafs’ front office.
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