Masse vs. Bathurst – December 1, 2023
This was my first chance to take a look at Masse this season after catching him six or seven times last year. If this had been my first viewing of him I’d have come away from the game a lot more impressed than I did having already seen the player. Not to suggest that he had a bad game by any means, he was quite effective in fact, but I just didn’t see a ton of progression in his game compared to last year – notably in his skating. Once he got going and up to full speed he moved well, but his first few strides and quickness could be an area for him to focus on improving over the second half and the off-season.
Masse did a good job in this viewing of playing a strong power game mixed in with some skill and ability. He displayed strong play near the boards, behind the goal line, and in front of the net where he was very difficult for defenders to displace. He was active in terms of finishing his checks and battling hard for 50/50 pucks, winning more than he lost. He consistently showed a strong net drive which led directly to one of his two goals on the night. In terms of shooting ability, based on this viewing, Masse looks to be adequate in that department – he didn’t stand out as needing to work on his shot but I don’t see him being labeled as someone with an elite shooting ability either. That said, with both a desire and ability to play in the hard areas of the ice he should be able to contribute in that regard. His playmaking ability was again sufficient, though not elite. He read the play well in the offensive zone and did a nice job distributing at the appropriate times, yet didn’t display any sort of noticeably higher-end ability in that sense.
Defensively, he generally did a very nice job of collapsing when the play was down low supporting the high-danger areas and keeping a good eye on his point man. He had no hesitation getting into shooting lanes and putting his body in front of the puck. He had a bit of a tendency to fly the zone a bit early when anticipating his team getting possession of the puck. These early jumps led to a nice breakaway goal for him, but there were times when it could have cost his team a scoring chance against if the play didn’t break the way he was looking.
I like Masse and the game he plays. His skating is the biggest question mark, but with improvement to his quickness, there seems to be the tools here to develop into an effective two-way power winger. At this juncture, he would be the type of player who, for me, seems to fit into the late first to mid-second round. An uptick in second-half production plus some improvements in his mobility could see him land with a team on Day 1, although he may end up best suited to fall within the top half of Round 2.
December 15 vs. Gatineau
Masse was held off the scoresheet and was -2 in a 4-2 victory, so it wasn’t his “A” game that night. That said, he didn’t look bad out there by any means. Masse demonstrated a lot of the same qualities that I saw on video last season, and this game reinforced those feelings for me – both positive and negative.
He showed a lot of qualities in this game that would translate to the pro game well – size, strength, board play, net front play and effort level, to go with capable puck skills and offensive ability. His biggest area of weakness is his skating ability, which looked similar in person as it did on video. He was fine when he got up to top speed, you’d just like to see a little more quickness in his step. I don’t think this will prevent him from playing in the NHL, but it may affect his draft stock and the perception of his upside as an offensive player.
Masse brings a lot of elements that coaches will like and may be able to slide up and down a lineup depending on the situation and bring some versatility to the table.
Ultimately, is he a first-rounder? As of now, for me, the answer is no. His skating is certainly a question mark, and I have some reservations about what sort of offensive upside there is, but with a strong second half, it would not surprise me if he ends up going in the top 40. A second-round grade based on the two recent viewings. He’s a legitimate NHL prospect.