PITTSBURGH - The Florida Panthers know what Ian McCoshen brings to the table.
Recalled from AHL Springfield on Monday, the 23-year-old defenseman watched Tuesday's 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins from the press box at PPG Paints Arena, eagerly awaiting his turn to step back onto the ice - an NHL season debut that could come sooner rather than later.
A stay-at-home defenseman with size to spare (he stands 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds), McCoshen had registered nine assists and 49 PIMs in 35 games with the Thunderbirds this season, making him the most logical call-up for a Panthers team looking to add physicality to their blue line.
And after speaking with Springfield bench boss Geordie Kinnear, Panthers coach Bob Boughner said the decision to bring up McCoshen was an easy one.
"Talking to Geordie the other day and asking who's playing the best down there right now as a defensive-defenseman that's defending the best and McCoshen's name came up right away," Boughner said after Tuesday's morning skate. "That's what we need here. He's going to see some games on this trip, I'm sure. It's nice that he's playing well and it's nice to have him back."
A second-round pick (31st overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft, McCoshen spent the majority of last season as Florida's seventh defenseman. In 38 games with the Panthers, he posted four points (three goals, one assists), 71 hits and 43 blocks while averaging 15:05 of ice time a night.
McCoshen said that time, whether he was on the ice or not, provided many valuable lessons.
"How to be a true professional regardless of any situation," said McCoshen, who made his NHL debut and saw the ice for three games with the Panthers in 2016-17. "There's going to be ups and downs in your career. It's just how you take it and your mentality with it."
That mentality was certainly tested in October, when McCoshen was one of a handful of skaters sent down to the minors from Florida's training camp. After feeling he'd gained a foothold in the NHL, he was suddenly in a position where he would have to work his way back up once again.
A true professional, McCoshen took the demotion in stride.
"It's motivation," McCoshen said. "We're competitive athletes. We want to be in the same positions as some guys were here. We're just all trying to strive for the same goal here. We're trying to win with the Florida Panthers and bring a Stanley Cup here."
In Springfield, McCoshen said he focused on improving "the little details" of his game.
"I've always been good defensively throughout my career, but just staying dialed in to the little details and stuff like that," McCoshen said when asked about where his focus had been these past few months. "Making plays coming out of my zone and not just throwing pucks right away; making plays with my feet. I know I'm a good skater. Just trying to be outlets for players."
While McCoshen is looking to forward to showcasing his all-around improvements, the Panthers hope he can continue to do the one thing he did better than any other player last season - clear the crease. To put it plainly, when he was on the ice, the low slot was shut down for opponents.
According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Panthers allowed 8.48 high-danger shot attempts per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 when McCoshen was on the ice -- the fewest among the team's defensemen.
Boughner said McCoshen's toughness is something the team has been lacking.
"That's a need of ours for sure," Boughner said. Like Jayce Hawryluk and Henrik Borgstrom before him, McCoshen has a chance to become the next Springfield standout to get called up to Florida and start producing immediately, especially given the strides he's made and the invaluable familiarity with both teammates and the system.
"I think overall as a player and a person I've grown a lot these last couple months in Springfield," McCoshen said. I'm just growing my game… Guys were really excited to see me. That always feels good coming back here."