The majority of the Red Wings 2019 draft class featured a plethora of Europeans, in a somewhat surprising fashion. But the Detroit scouting staff did dip their toes in North America. With their third pick in the draft — and 54th overall in the entire draft — the Wings selected Robert Mastrosimone from the Chicago Steel of the USHL — making him their first North American based draft pick of the weekend.
Another first in light of the Mastrosimone pick was that he was their first forward taken. Based on some of the other forwards they took, “Ducky”, as his teammates referred to him as, fit the bill of a skilled player with some bite. Bound for Boston University in the Fall, he’ll have more of an opportunity to develop, unlike, say, a skater from the CHL.
The 2018-19 season saw Mastrosimone suit up for the Chicago Steel of the USHL. He amassed 31 goals and 60 points in 54 games over his draft year, earning the reputation of a noted goal scorer. He played most of the season on the top line along side USHL leading scorer Nick Abruzzese. A strong postseason from the duo helped lead Chicago to the USHL final where they came up just short against the Sioux Falls Stampede. In those playoffs Mastrosimone posted 7 goals and 15 points in 11 games.
If you take Philadelphia Flyers prospect Bobby Brink out of the equation, Mastrosimone lead all under-18 players in the USHL in both goals (31) and points per game (1.11).
Statistics via Elite Prospects
Combined with a brief appearance with the U.S. National Team Development Program and a prominent role on the U.S. Hlinka Gretzky and World Junior-A Challenge rosters and Mastrosimone had plenty of opportunity to demonstrate his talents to NHL scouts. The Red Wings obviously took notice, liking what they saw enough to make him a high a second round pick, which is no small feat.
Heading into development camp, Mastrosimone was on the radar of many, being one of the bigger names taking part in camp. Unfortunately, an ankle injury prematurely sidelined him for 4-6 weeks, a big blow to a player hoping to assert himself at the U.S. World Junior Camp in Plymouth just a few months later.
If his recovery stayed on scheduled, Mastrosimone should be close (if not already) back to skating on the ice. Boston University’s season begins on October 5 against Union College and Mastrosimone is expected to start on a line with fellow Red Wings prospect Ethan Phillips.
Mastrosimone has an arsenal of offensive weapons. From first glance you can tell he is a talented winger who cares about making an impact. He doesn’t settle for being outside the action for long stretches, and has a demand for the puck that most wingers lack. There is a tenacious, hard-working aspect of his game that endear him to most. Coaches will have no problem calling his number on the bench during key situations.
The flexibility of his game is truly impressive. He can play on the top units of both special teams, as well as serve in a scoring or checking role. He saw plenty of ice-time while in Chicago.
The most dangerous attribute Mastrosimone possesses is his wrist shot. In so many instances, he left you saying “wow” as he picked the corner from beyond the circles with ease. His release can surprise goaltenders with how quick it is. Also noteworthy is how little space he needs to get the shot off. I’ve seen him twist and turn and fire pucks from bad body positions, somehow finding the back of the net. Defenders can’t take him lightly in the offensive zone.
I’ve also come to notice the creativity he plays with. Mastrosimone loves to make the skill play, whether it be a toe-drag between his legs, or spinning around the defensemen, he has an imaginative mind and pulls something out of his hat often. One area, however, that has restricted his playmaking ability is straight-line speed. He can move well, but isn’t exactly a burner, and lacks the power or size to overwhelm defenders on a transition play.
To get more of a first-hand look at Mastrosimone’s game, earlier this offseason I compiled a few of his games from the USHL last season.You can find that post below:
What has most Red Wings fans excited about the soon-to-be BU Terrier is the upside he owns. There is reason to believe there is a future top-6 NHL forward in their somewhere. He has all the traits you look for is offensive minded players. It just comes down to how well he develops. Should that be the expectation? No, of course not, but that plays a factor into how strong of a prospect he is.
While I doubt he puts it all together enough to become a bonafide 1st liner, best case scenario is a top-6 forward who can play both special teams. Because of how diverse his skill set is, you can shuffle him around the lineup, however, his linemates will mostly dictate his offensive output.
Worst case scenario? He flops at BU and goes unsigned after four years. But I like the odds that he carves out some sort of pro career down the road.