Robert Mastrosimone left behind the freezing winters of the Northeast for the heat of the desert Southwest in hopes of advancing his hockey career.
The Detroit Red Wings selected Mastrosimone with their third pick, 54th overall in the second round, in 2019, Steve Yzerman’s first draft as general manager. This is the year the franchise landed Moritz Seider and hopes to eventually add a few more prospects such as defensemen Antti Tuomisto and Albert Johansson and big winger Elmer Soderblom.
Mastrosimone, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound skilled center, was a bit under the radar for three seasons at Boston University. He transferred to Arizona State in the spring at the end of a college career for such a move, but hopes it will help him achieve his goal of turning professional.
“I need a fresh start, just to step out in front of new eyes, new teammates, new coaches, new realm and take my game to the next level,” Mastrosimone said.
The independent Sun Devils began competing in NCAA Division I in 2015-16. They are coming off a 17-17-1 season.
“We are going to have a very good team,” Mastrosimone said. “The group is really tight. When I spoke to Coach (Greg) Powers and the staff, everything they preached is exactly what I want. It’s the culture, it’s coming to the rink every day excited. And, of course, it’s Arizona. You can’t beat time. Everything I needed was there. It was an easy decision.”
Mastrosimone included the Red Wings in the decision-making process.
“They pretty much said, ‘It’s your decision, it’s your life. But we’re also going to guide you and advise you on what we think is best,” Mastrosimone said. “They loved Arizona State. They loved all the opportunities available to them – the staff, the new rink, the location. They all agreed with that.
“They’ve been nothing but great the last three years since I got drafted. They were constantly watching me, making sure I was okay. They went to games. I heard comments from them, most of the staff. They are on top of their prospects. It was huge just to hear what they had to say and take it in, because obviously they’re at the top level and they know what they’re doing.
Mastrosimone, 21, is described as an energetic and quick striker who plays a north-south game and has a terrific shot with a quick clearance. The East Islip, NY native has 21 goals and 50 points in 83 games at BU.
After drafting him from the USHL Chicago Steel, Yzerman said, “He’s really gifted, competitive, he’s got good hands and good hockey sense. He needs to fill out, he needs to get stronger, and getting stronger will improve his skating.
Mastrosimone said at Red Wings development camp last month, “I’m always trying to work on my body and make it a little bit stronger and bigger. I did a very good job this summer. I gained a lot of weight and became much stronger. I’m about to really get to a place where I want to be.
Mastrosimone realizes he has to work on all aspects of his game.
“I really focused on my skating and my skills and was more deceptive on the ice,” he said. “I’m going in the right direction.”
He spent some time in Arizona before development camp and planned to return this summer before classes started.
“Dry heat is awesome,” Mastrosimone said. “It’s hot, but it’s worth it.”
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