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Top 25 Under 25, #19: Dominik Masin looks to improve in his second pro year

Dominik Masin enters his second pro year in Syracuse hoping to show growth after an underwhelming first season.

NHL: Preseason-Tampa Bay Lightning at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the RawCharge writing staff. Four writers, plus a special guest, ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2017 in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked, plus Honorable Mentions.

Dominik Masin was the 35th overall pick by the Lightning in the second round of the 2014 draft. Entering that draft, he was ranked as the 10th European skater by Central Scouting. In many draft profiles, he was projected as having top four NHL potential and some evaluators still think he can reach that ceiling. His first year in Syracuse at age-20 didn’t do much to encourage that opinion though and he’ll need to take a big step forward to regain his status as one of the more promising defensive prospects in the organization.

Masin’s counting stats don’t show much to like in his first year in Syracuse. He didn’t do much scoring and the team achieved significantly worse results when he was on the ice than when he was off. The chart below shows his percentile ranks in some key 5v5 stats from prospect-stats.com. While he did score a few of goals at 5v5, he didn’t do much else.

This year, Masin will need to show significant improvement if he hopes to figure in the future plans for the Lightning. With the acquisition of Mikhail Sergachev from Montreal in exchange for Jonathan Drouin, the Lightning now seem to have to the top two left defense positions nailed down for the foreseeable future. That leaves only one spot in the third pair for Slater Koekkoek, Masin, and Libor Hajek to find minutes over the coming years. With Koekkoek having the inside track on that spot, it certainly seems like Masin’s immediate ceiling is as a 7th D option unless someone plays on their off side.

For Masin, he’ll hope that another year of growth and development sees him put up numbers that are closer to his final season in juniors than what he showed last year in Syracuse. In his age-19 season in Peterborough of the OHL, he ranked 20th in estimated primary points per sixty minutes. That shows that he does have the ability to contribute offensively. His team was also much better with him on the ice than off so he does have the ability to drive play in a positive direction.

Being successful in the pros is obviously much different than being successful in juniors. We also have to be careful about putting too much stock in a season where he was able to physically dominate other players much younger and smaller than him.

Entering the fall, Lightning and Crunch fans should be looking for concrete signs of improvement. He’s now played a full year of professional hockey. He should be adjusted to the increase in pace and physicality. This year will be key in establishing whether he still has a ceiling as a 4/5 defenseman in the NHL or whether he’s going to top out as a borderline 6/7 option for an NHL club.

He’ll get plenty of opportunities in Syracuse this season. The team is spoiled for talent at forward but is still short on depth at the blue line. He’ll be counted on to fill top four minutes and with a slew of young skill up front, he’ll undoubtedly get plenty of opportunities to join the rush on offense and shine defensively as the team is likely to play at a fast pace.

If he takes advantage of the opportunity, he could find himself competing for a spot in Tampa next fall. That will certainly be his goal. And for the sake of the fans in Syracuse who might be in for an exciting season if this team can figure out a way to keep the puck out of their own net, let’s hope he reaches that goal.