TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- It's funny how things work out.
Adam Mascherin was a second-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers in 2016 and seemed destined to sign a rookie contract to get started on his NHL career.
But a breakdown of some sort in negotiations caused Mascherin to refuse a contract and return to the draft two years later. The skilled forward was playing in Kitchener and was often seen by Joe McDonnell, the Stars director of amateur scouting, who lived in the area.
In 2018, the Stars drafted Mascherin as an overage player in the fourth round, and a year later he might be in position to contend for a spot on the NHL roster. The now 21-year-old tallied two goals and two assists Monday in a 5-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at the 2019 NHL Prospect Tournament at Centre ICE Arena.
The win vaults Dallas into the championship game Tuesday (4 p.m., CT; FOX Sports GO; DallasStars.com) against the Detroit Red Wings.
[RELATED: Laxdal on why he's proud to play key role in Stars' development]
"I thought he stepped up his game," said Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal, who is coaching the Stars prospects in the eight-team tournament.
"Some guys take a little longer to find their way, and if he found his way tonight and can continue tomorrow night, he can springboard himself toward training camp."
Mascherin was held off the scoresheet in the first two games of the tournament, although he did a good job creating possession with hustle. The thing is, Mascherin has a history of scoring, and that's what the Stars would like to see out of him.
"He's a point scorer, so my expectation is he's going to produce," said assistant general manager Scott White, who also serves as GM of the Texas Stars. "The first two games were probably not to his liking in terms of production, but today he impacted the game and produced. That was more the Masch I've come to watch.
"It was good to see -- a great response from him."
After getting drafted by Florida, Mascherin tallied 100 points (35 goals, 65 assists) in 65 games for Kitchener. The next season, he had 40 goals in 67 OHL games.
He is a scorer.
"As a veteran guy wearing a letter, I want to set a good example, and that comes with producing," said Mascherin, who is an alternate captain for the prospects team. "I came out of juniors and I had a 100-point season and a 40-goal season, so I can do the offensive stuff."
After he went back into the draft and started playing for the Texas Stars in the AHL last year, he had 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) in 75 games. Mascherin said he added a defensive presence to his offensive game.
"Coach Lax did a good job of teaching me how to become a hockey player," Mascherin said of his first season with Laxdal in Cedar Park. "I think I'm becoming a good professional, and I'm just chipping away at getting better every year."
Part of that chipping is the fact he has pointed his focus in the right direction. Mascherin said he is taking each performance one day at a time, and said he knows he will have to earn a place on the NHL roster.
"I find when I look too far ahead, I lose track of the moment," he said. "I'm going to let my actions speak for me. If I make the team out of training camp, that's great. If not, maybe it's January or maybe it's next season. Everyone's journey is different. It's a process, and I'm aware of that."
[COMPLETE COVERAGE: Full schedule, results from Day 4 at NHL Prospect Tournament]
Laxdal said he has been impressed with the maturing of the young winger. Mascherin grew up in Ontario and played his junior hockey in Ontario, so he was rarely far from home. Mascherin said living on his own in Cedar Park and learning how to take the next step in his life helped him in every stage of his game.
Now, he's more of a polished product because of a great attitude.
"Masch is confidence player," Laxdal said. "He's a guy who relies on his coach having confidence in him. He can sense it, and if he can sense that you're positive with him, he's going to play hard for you."
Hard enough to add a skilled element to the depth of the NHL Stars. After all, a four-point game is just one positive sign that he's made some good decisions in his life.
"I love it here. I have zero complaints," Mascherin said of the road that has led him to the Stars organization. "I had a great year in Texas, I made some friends for life, and I learned a lot about myself as a person. I'm just trying to take it one step at a time."
Championship game: Dallas Stars vs. Detroit Red Wings
Tuesday, 4 p.m. CT
Where: Centre ICE Arena, Traverse City, Mich.
Live stream: FOX Sports GO and DallasStars.com
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.