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Mastrosimone hopes to have impact with Red Wings despite small stature

Undersized forward looking to follow in footsteps of Gaudreau, DeBrincat

by Dave Hogg / Correspondent

DETROIT -- Robert Mastrosimone was supposed to be playing for the United States this week in the World Junior Summer Showcase. But things haven't quite gone the way the Detroit Red Wings forward prospect expected.

Mastrosimone, a second-round pick (No. 54) in the 2019 NHL Draft, hoped to make an impression during Red Wings development camp in June, and had an assist in the first period of the Red & White Scrimmage, the camp's final event. But later in the period, he broke his ankle blocking a shot, which changed his offseason plans.

Mastrosimone (5-foot-10, 158 pounds) is expected to recover in time for his freshman season at Boston University, where the 18-year-old will work on getting faster and stronger. It will be a step in his development after he had 105 points (47 goals, 58 assists) in 114 games the past two seasons with Chicago of the United States Hockey League. He had 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 11 USHL playoff games last season.

"I can't wait to be part of that little rivalry (Boston University vs. Boston College)," he said. "That's going to be great. Growing up on Long Island (East Islip, New York), I got to know a lot of Boston guys, which is awesome."  

The Red Wings are looking forward to seeing how quickly Mastrosimone develops.

"He's really a skilled, competitive kid with great hands and great hockey sense," Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said. "He needs to fill out, but his skill level and hands are exciting."

Mastrosimone was on the initial Summer Showcase roster for the United States but was replaced because of his injury. It would have been a good opportunity for him to show off for his new bosses; the tournament is being played at USA Hockey Arena in suburban Detroit.

Size is a concern, but Mastrosimone wouldn't be the first undersized player to blossom in the NHL. He can use Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau (5-9, 165) and Chicago Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat (5-7, 165) for inspiration.

"If you look around today's NHL, you will see guys who are succeeding without great size," Red Wings director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright said. "He needs to get stronger and faster, which is why he's going to college to develop that part of his game.

"What impresses us is his work ethic and compete level are off the charts."

Mastrosimone will continue to hone that reputation in trying to reach the NHL.

"I'm a high-skilled forward with a very hard work ethic," he said. "I can score and play defense. I'll play 200 feet and block a shot in the defensive zone if that's what's needed. My favorite player growing up was (Toronto Maple Leafs forward) John Tavares, and I try to play like that."

"I'm going to work extremely hard at anything I'm asked to do. That's what I'm about."

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