Tanks are useful things.
In warfare, they're vehicles carrying an incredible level of firepower that can be delivered to anywhere they need to put it with the flick of a switch. They're not the fastest of vehicles on the battlefield, nor are they the biggest, but they can take a hell of a lot of punishment, never stop coming and they only need one shot to ruin your whole day.
The Kitchener Rangers' forward Adam Mascherin, at 5'11 & 205lbs, fits the physical description of a "tank" to a T. Short and stocky with a fast, direct skating style, he's a hard-working north-to-south skater who only seems to think in one gear-full forward. He's not the fastest or most agile skater in the draft - something that has likely kept him from reaching quite the elite level tier of prospects - but he is a very, very strong composed player who has one truly lethat attribute...his booming shot that he can release from anywhere on the ice spectacularly quickly.
This is a shot that has seen Mascherin score 35 goals in his 2nd OHL season as a 17-year-old, after scoring 12+17 as a 16-year-old. It's also seen him slowly climb NHL draft boards in his first draft-eligible year, although he still remains under the radar to those focusing on the higher levels of the board...certainly when you Google his name there's nowhere near the amount of chatter around prospects of similar age and totals.
Want names of higher-rated prospects in the 2016 draft he's out-scored this season? How will sixth-ranked Alexander Nylander, ninth-ranked Michael McLeod and mid-first-ranked Logan Brown do you as a start?
For already drafted players Mascherin has outscored? How about Michael Dal Colle (2 years older, drafted 5th overall in 2014), Brendan Perlini (#11 overall in 2014) Pavel Zacha (6th overall in 2015), Lawson Crouse (11th overall in 2015) or Boston's own Zach Senynshyn (15th overall in 2015?
These are just OHL drafted forwards Mascherin is outperforming this season - most of whom are older and far more ballyhooed as prospects by both draft analysts and their respective teams.
This kid is good.
Film of Mascherin is a little trickier to find than most of the above, simply because he's flying beneath the radar (he's ranked at #42 by NHL Central Scouting among NA skaters) but here's a feature on him from Rogers Sports that gives a flavour of his play.
The first thing you notice...good lord, that SHOT. The opening of the clip shows him arrowing a precision wrister that would defeat many NHL goalies high into the roof of the net at speed off the rush, with a less than ideal feed to work from. Being able to produce that kind of shot off a less than ideal feed is the skill by which some NHL greats (think Brett Hull for one) have made their living. It's arguably how Frank Vatrano, to name one current player the Bruins are excited about, will make his in the NHL.
It is certainly the best way Mascherin will make his. As a gunner with a nasty edge to him.
That's not to say the Toronto native doesn't have strengths elsewhere. In fact, with his low center of gravity, strength on the puck, and willingness to play the game with snarl and a Trojan-like workrate, he has many.
In one of our first draft profiles of the season we said that Alex DeBrincat was "Brad Marchand, but Brad Marchand if he were a pure scorer".
In current B's terms, Adam Mascherin is an unholy hybrid of Frank Vatrano and Marchand. He has the stocky build, ever-running motor and strength in the corners that has made Marchand a star, along with the sniper-rifle-made-flesh attribute that has made Vatrano a breakout star in the Bruins organisation last season
Defensively, work is still required, say the scouts...but again, remember that this kid is an 18-year-old who's outscored not just one but many massively-hyped top 10 picks in his 2nd junior season.
This is not the type of player you'd expect to fall to the very late first or early 2nd round. It's definitely a player teams should be looking at very closely indeed.
In a draft full of potential steals around the late first and early 2nd rounds, Mascherin is a standout. He is a genuine first round talent
He has the potential to make 29 other teams curse the fact that nobody else noticed him more quickly...because he's a monster flying under the waves of hype aimed at flashier, gaudier prospects.
It's time for teams to cut through the white noise and see the beasts lurking in the shadows.
Beasts just like Mascherin.