Maxim Mamin was one of the unsung heroes of the Florida Panthers’ incredible second half last season.
While his stat line may have underwhelmed (26GP, 3G, 1A), his effort and attention to detail are the main reasons why he should take another huge step forward this year in his development.
Last season, Mamin was used mostly as a depth player and appeared sparingly on the 3rd and 4th forward lines while also spending time in Springfield and as a healthy scratch. At 6’2”, 191lbs, Mamin has the ability to be an everyday regular who will contribute significantly as part of the bottom-six.
Perhaps the greatest cause for optimism that Mamin will take a huge step forward this year is the effort and energy that Maxim brought to the ice during almost every opportunity he was afforded.
Despite playing between 6 and 10 minutes per game when on the ice, he played aggressive defense and most nights he was the most physical Panther on the ice.
He wasn’t the most physical in terms of drawing a fight or starting a scrap, but he was noticeable in finishing his checks all over the ice, causing opposing players to constantly be looking over their shoulder for number 78.
While Mamin’s scoring numbers were pedestrian, let us remember that his main 4th line partners last year consisted of the offensive ‘juggernauts’ known as Micheal Haley and Derek MacKenzie (sarcasm noted).
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Part of the equation for Mamin’s success depends on Coach Boughner. While Boughner was trotting out Barkov and Trocheck sometimes for an unsustainable 25 minutes per game, he was reluctant to give the 3rd and 4th lines consistent minutes and often gave up on young players after watching them play no more than 4-6 minutes in a game before making them healthy scratches and then sending them back to Springfield.
The 2019 version of the Panthers for the first time – perhaps in their entire history – has an abundance of riches at forward. Mamin is a key piece. He is a perfect fit for a high-energy checking line who can also put the puck in the net.
However, for that to happen, Boughner needs to be able to resist what appears to be a pattern of not playing the ‘kids’ in favor of underproductive older players.
A fourth line of Mamin, Jared McCann, and Colton Sceviour would wreak havoc on competition. Combined with a third line made up of some combination of Frank Vatrano, Henrik Borgstrom, and one of Denis Malgin or Owen Tippett, the Panthers have perhaps an NHL top 5 set of 12 forwards.
Mamin possesses all of the tools to be part of a Panthers’ playoff run, however, the question of whether Maxim succeeds may not be limited to his ability, but may also be whether Boughner is ready to actually commit to the younger guys in today’s high-speed NHL game.