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Montreal Canadiens trade target: Adam Mascherin

Adam Mascherin is moving on from the Panthers. His scoring ability could help the Montreal Canadiens down the road.

2016 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images

They say that what a rich man throws away can become a poor man's treasure. This could very well be the case for Adam Mascherin and a lucky team before this year's draft.

Mascherin was drafted high in the second round by the Florida Panthers in 2016, coming off an 81-point season with the Kitchener Rangers. While this 38th overall selection must have been a reach to some, due to the small stature of the player and his skating deficiencies, Mascherin proved to everyone that he had the skill, rising in the rankings with each powerful shot ringing off the post and into the net.

The left-winger scored 35 that year with the help of his cannon release. And in 2016-17, he put up the same number of goals again, but this time, also ended the season with 100 points.

We will likely never know the true cause of Mascherin's choice to move on from the Panthers. A series of tweets from Scott Wheeler leads us to think that he could have been unfairly neglected by the organization. But in the end, it's all speculation.

What is sure now is that they have to find a suitor for their second-rounder or they will lose him for nothing come June. This is an occasion for the Habs to add some talent to their prospect pool for a cheaper price than what a player with this kind of offensive ability usually goes for.

That's not to say that Mascherin is a sure-fire NHLer. As previously stated, the forward is neither fast nor quick, and with his 5'9” frame, it will certainly complicate his path to the big league.

However, if there's a lesson from previous drafts, it is that betting against skill and determination is a bad idea.

Mascherin, if he were to join Montreal, would instantly be one of the better elements in the prospect pool. While it says as much about the organizational depth as it says about the player, this perspective is exciting enough that it surely will entice the Habs.

The Rangers forward took a step back in points this year. However, this is mostly attributable to him missing the supporting cast he had the season before. The departure of Jeremy Bracco for the Toronto Marlies left a big hole on his line. And as a result, in 2017-18 Mascherin recorded 86 points in 67 games, That’s 14 fewer than the season before, but still 20 more than his next closest teammate.

He remains the star of the Rangers, and a player they will sorely miss a few months from now.

Of those 86 points, 40 were goals; good for seventh in the league in the category. Adept at finding quiet ice, Mascherin unleashes one-time shots very quickly, leaving barely any chance for goalies to move laterally before getting beat.

He doesn't need a perfect pass to release either, as he has no problem adapting to being off balance or in a tight spot. He has honed his shooting ability to the point where he is very dangerous anywhere inside the circles.

But he isn't just a great shot. He is also a skilled puck-handler who can make opponents look like fools with a combination of toe drags, sliding the puck between skates, or any number of creative moves.

He uses his great hands to set himself up for goals, but also to routinely pass to teammates in scoring areas. He's a smart player who is able to play off the fact that he is recognized as a lethal shooter around the league; feeding others by faking his release, and then getting himself open as a return option for an unblocked shot.

Mascherin's play in front of the net is effective and he finds himself there quite often in the offensive zone. His coordination allows him to tip shots and get the puck to his stick for quick scoring chances.

He might only be 5'9”, but he is built like a tank. He can overpower some defenders much bigger than him and, while he could work on his balance to be even stronger with possession, he is already hard to knock off the puck. His deceptive handling combined with his agility also helps keep defenders guessing on their angle of approach and gives him the room he needs to make his plays.

That being said, Mascherin doesn't willingly place himself in situations where he knows he will be at a disadvantage, often preferring to rapidly knock the puck in the direction of a teammate instead of getting pinned on the boards.

He uses the tools he has, and sometimes that means that he isn't able to help his team as much as a quicker and larger forward, even if it is a far less skilled one. His forechecking and defensive game suffer as a result, and a cycle game won't be where he shines.

The most unfortunate thing about him is that his puck-handling abilities aren't being complemented by speed, as it would really make him a dominant player at any level.

Despite his flaws, IMascherin has the upside of a top-six forward. It likely won't be for a few years, but it's very possible he gets there if he can develop properly through the AHL. The 19-year-old needs specific coaching on a few areas of his game, notably his defence and skating.

The road that Charles Hudon took to the show would likely fit Mascherin too, except the latter is showing more skill than the former at the same age.

What would the cost of acquiring Adam Mascherin be?

A third-rounder should be enough. If Mascherin goes back in the 2018 draft, which is what would happen if he isn't traded and signed by another team, this is likely around where he ends up being redrafted anyway.

Even if small left-wingers aren't something the team lacks in their depth chart, this is an opportunity for the organization. Laval needs scoring. The Habs needs scoring. And Adam Mascherin has proven he can score.

There's a fit there.