Tampa Bay Lightning Top 25 Under 25, #15 Dominik Masin: Poised for Something Special?

All the right moves in all the right places.

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the RawCharge community. Ten writers and 106 readers 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.

Drafted 35th overall in in 2014, Dominic Masin has moved up a few spots this summer. Following back-to-back finishes at #19 in 2016 and 2017, Masin is #15. Similar to Otto Somppi’s T25 where I had him ranked higher than anyone else at the site, I put Masin 10th on my personal list of players in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. Okay, let’s get into what I saw out of Masin that makes me view him so highly.

Dominik Masin was the best defenseman on the Syracuse Crunch last season.

I’m not kidding. Masin’s counting stats may not look great, but after taking into account his deployment and usage, there is a really impressive prospect who did a lot of great things for his team. It was only his second season in the AHL, but Masin was tasked with a heavy defensive responsibility for a top-4 team in the league. Not only did he survive, but he quietly thrived, producing well in the limited offensive minutes he was given for what would end up being the best regular season team in terms of standings points in the Crunch’s 25-year history.

The last goodbye: Farewell, 2017-18 Syracuse Crunch

Paired with Erik Cernak (who was 25th in last year’s T25, but looks to finish a lot higher this season) for much of season, was given top-4 minutes against the best forwards in the AHL, and key penalty killing duties with no power play time. All of this combined for an unimpressive 24 points in 72 games. But if you put it in the context of the rest of the team (and eventually with respect to the league), you can see that Masin produced at the top of his class.

With no power play time (on a poor PP team, admittedly), Masin’s 24 total points was good enough for second on the Crunch’s defense core. Trailing only 28-year-old vet of the league Mat Bodie (37), and tied with even older 30-year-old AHL vet Jamie McBain, Masin was also 12th among all the skaters in points on the Crunch.

Bodie and McBain were the two power play quarterbacks for the Crunch last season. Bodie had 13 points on the power play while McBain had 12. Taking those into account in the context of Masin (who had zero points on the PP), the sophomore is all of a sudden in a dead heat with Bodie and far-and-away ahead of McBain’s production.

Masin was able to put up 17 power play points in 57 regular season games for the Peterborough Petes of the OHL in his final season with the club (2015-16). He led the team in power play and total points from the defense and his possession metrics were great too. Understanding from this that Masin isn’t a bum on the power play, we can roughly guess that Masin could have scored upwards of 40 points for the Crunch last season if he’d been given power play time.

That would be top-10 in the AHL among defensemen right away. In the context of other teams, that’s Travis Dermott in Toronto, Sebastian Aho in Bridgeport, or Oliver Kylington in Stockton levels of production. All three of the above played in the NHL last year (Kylington should have, but didn’t) and are in Masin’s age bracket.

In terms of even-strength production in the AHL, among under-22 players, Masin is fifth in both 5v5 points-per-game and 5v5 estimated points per 60 minutes of play (the AHL doesn’t track ice time so TOI values are estimated). The only players above him either category are the aforementioned Kylington, his teammate Rasmus Andersson (also a top defensive prospect in Calgary’s system), Frederic Allard (teenage RHD in Nashville’s system), Roland McKeown (Charlotte’s top defenseman who spent time in the NHL with Carolina), and Winnipeg’s breakout star in the AHL: Sami Niku. That’s some pretty good company to be with.

The full table can be found below and the link to the spreadsheet is here. You can also see that Masin’s goal differential is positive, which is a good sign that he’s not giving back everything he’s producing. For a player with unimpressive counting stats, Masin surprised even me with how strong his underlying numbers are.

2017-18 AHL point production from U22 defensemen

Oliver KylingtonDSTK20.32662513918270.
Rasmus AnderssonDSTK20.88556771214260.
Frederic AllardDMIL19.7185585613190.
Roland McKeownDCHA21.6546566812200.
Dominik MasinDSYR21.6217287715220.
Filip HronekDGR19.8696787515200.
Jacob MiddletonDSJ21.7036727119200.
Jake WalmanDBNG/CHI21.5695948512170.
Lucas JohansenDHER19.8317437810180.
Mitchell Vande SompelDBRI20.5925855710170.
Andrew NielsenDTOR20.838654599180.
Thomas SchemitschDSPR20.8876993612180.
Sami NikuDMB20.93176612618240.
Josh JacobsDBNG21.583551586140.
Darren RaddyshDRFD21.5476643107170.
Brennan MenellDIA20.3137267613190.
Dysin MayoDTUC21.0796655510150.
Mark FriedmanDLV21.725651687150.
Nicolas MelocheDSA20.162583285130.
Erik CernakDSYR20.302714377140.
Alex LintuniemiDONT21.98641687150.
Ben ThomasDSYR21.301721596150.
Maxime LajoieDBEL19.861561829110.
Guillaume BriseboisDUTI20.1546837510150.
Emil JohanssonDPRO21.361532446100.

Shifting gears to how Masin actually plays, well, he plays the way you pronounce his name: a machine. 6’2” and between 190 and 200lbs depending on who you ask, Masin is a big boy. Masin’s big frame was used consistently in front of the net on the penalty kill and when defending a lead. He will only get stronger as he puts on a few adult pounds.

A surprisingly capable skater in all three zones, Masin plays a modern European defensive style that encourages jumping up in the rush and playing a high defensive line. Some props need to go to skating coach Barb Underhill for doing such a great job with the big boys on defense in the Lightning system.

Finally, Masin’s big shot from the point is another key attribute that stands out in his game. I would do anything to see Masin on the power play next season. He’s earned it, Benoit Groulx!

Despite his high point totals, Masin still considers himself a defensive defenseman. This past season was definitely one where the coaching staff (led by Groulx) encouraged Masin to focus on one side of his game (the side away from the puck) so that in the future, playing without the puck at a higher level isn’t something that is alien to him.

The clip below is Masin’s exit interview with the media following the 2018 Calder Cup run. Highlights from the past season are overlaid in front of the audio and it shows Masin’s varied skillset when it comes to scoring. Rebounds in front of the net, shots from the point, shots off the rush at speed; he just seems to do it all.

Masin put in a lot of hard work last season, and judging by what we can see in the numbers and on the ice, there is something brewing underneath that could explode next season. Masin will be 23 by the end of next season. He has acquired and developed all the tools he needs to succeed in North American professional hochey. He just needs to show it on the ice. Heck, if things click in the right ways for him, who knows, we might even see him already in the NHL by the time the 2019 T25U25 votes go out. Yeah, I said it.