Getting drafted is a dream for all high-end hockey prospects, but being selected by a team on the rise like the Tampa Bay Lightning makes the day even more sweet. Czech defenseman Dominik Masin was picked 35th overall by the Bolts this summer, capping off a season that saw his stock jump up after the world under-18s. Speaking through a translator, Masin was amped for the future.
“It’s very exciting,” he said. “I want to push hard to make it as soon as possible.”
Like Toronto Maple Leafs first-rounder William Nylander, Masin has an array of intriguing options for next season. Playing for Slavia Prague’s junior team, Masin surely would have played up with the men at some point had he signed a contract extension during the season with the franchise, but the teen wanted to play in North America for 2014-15. The Ontario League’s Peterborough Petes landed his rights in the CHL import draft, but since the Lightning drafted him out of Europe, Peterborough is just one of several potential destinations. Masin could also hop straight to the American League, where he would play for Tampa’s farm club in Syracuse. Though he has never played against men before, Masin does boast a 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame already.
Naturally, Petes GM Mike Oke would like to see Masin wearing maroon and white in the OHL for the upcoming season. Oke has met with Masin’s reps already and will meet the youngster’s family soon as well. Ultimately, Tampa Bay will likely play a large role in that decision and Oke hopes his selection of Masin in the import draft pays off.
“He can contribute at both ends of the rink,” he said. “We’re graduating two overage defensemen, so we had a need back there. He would get an opportunity to play in key situations for us.”
The Petes are an interesting landing spot for Masin, should he decide to go major junior. The top line of Nick Ritchie, Hunter Garlent and Eric Cornel was electrifying once Garlent arrived via trade from Guelph and the members of the trio will all return to the Petes for 2014-15. Masin would join a very good young defenseman in 2015 draft prospect Matt Spencer on the blueline, bringing a nice skill set from the Czech Republic with him.
“I’m a competitive guy,” Masin said. “I want to bring energy and defensive flair and improve on my offense to help in front as well.”
Masin’s big event this past season was the world under-18s, where he was the captain of a surprising Czech squad that took silver. Even though they lost to perennial favorite Team USA in the final, the Czechs knocked off Russia and Canada before that, with Masin and future Washington Capitals first-rounder Jakub Vrana leading the way.
“There was a great atmosphere around the team,” Masin said. “That helped a lot and it was a big experience.”
Now it’s on to North America, where an entire new hockey world awaits the young blueliner.
Article has been edited to reflect that Syracuse is Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate.