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Mackie Samoskevich: 2021 NHL Draft Profile: A Perfect Skater With High-End Skill

A natural center who can play wing, Mackie Samoskevich is someone to keep an eye on at the end of the first round.

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Who is Mackie Samoskevich?

Matthew Samoskevich is a 5’11” 190 lb. forward from Newtown, Connecticut, and was born in November 2002. He has played the last two seasons for the Chicago Steel of the USHL, where he wore the “A” in his last season. He is committed to the University of Michigan in Fall 2021. His older sister, Melissa, was the Captain at Quinnipiac from 2017 to 2019, and is currently under contract with the Connecticut Whale in the NWHL. Mackie’s twin sister Madison plays for Quinnipiac. As for Mackie, here are his statistics thus far.

Elite Prospects

A glance at his production with Chicago shows he managed to improve his point totals in 11 fewer games - so there is a good chance he succeeds in the NCAA as well.

Where is Samoskevich Ranked?

Generally, Samoskevich is ranked in the late first to early second round.

What Others Have to Say About Him

For Smaht Scouting, Paul Zuk did the write-up on Mackie Samoskevich. Zuk is very high on Samoskevich’s offensive skill, praising his patient ability with the puck and blazing speed. Zuk writes on Samoskevich:

Perhaps the most impressive part of Samoskevich’s game is his stick-handling. The USHL has some very talented defenders scattered throughout the league, and he has little difficulty embarrassing even the best of them. Samoskevich can easily stickhandle around the neutral zone and offensive zone at top speed, which is quite impressive to see. He is more than capable of entering the offensive zone using stick-handling, as Chicago sees the majority of its zone entries come via his stick when Samoskevich is on the ice.

While Samoskevich is a natural center, Zuk argues that he may benefit from a permanent move to wing in the NHL, as his playmaking ability could help a goal-scoring center create many chances. This is no issue for the New Jersey Devils, who still have more centers than they can possibly play up the middle even after trading Mikhail Maltsev.

For Last Word on Sports, Ben Kerr echoes many of the points Zuk made for Smaht Scouting. Most of the room for growth Kerr notes has to do with strength and size. Since Samoskevich is 5’11”, I would not expect him to get much heavier than 190 pounds regardless. Specifically, Kerr notes the power of his shot as a room for improvement, as well as this bit on Samoskevich’s defense:

Samoskevich works hard in the defensive end. He is willing to provide backpressure against the rush and support the defence down low. His lack of size and strength can be a bit of a limiting factor though. He can be pushed around by bigger, more physical forwards in the cycle game. Samoskevich is smart positionally and uses a good stick to poke check opponents or cut off passing lanes.

Like Zuk, Kerr calls for a positional change for Mackie Samoskevich. He also calls Samoskevich a “long-term project,” a statement I do not think aligns with the report scouts (including Kerr) give on Samoskevich’s ability. If what they say about his skill is true, I could see him being an NHLer after just one year at college - but that is if his production continues to be strong at the collegiate level.

Samoskevich on Video

Now, there is another shift-by-shift video from Devils in the Details. In this video, Samoskevich (#24 in black) and the Steel are playing against the Green Bay Gamblers.

Right at the start of the video, Samoskevich is making an impact. He gets loose from a trailing defender and nearly creates a goal on the odd-man rush. On the penalty kill at 1:43, I feel like Samoskevich has a tendency to wait too long to get in the passing lanes - but he does try to recover quickly when he realizes he is not in the right place. At 2:55, Chicago is on the power play, but Samoskevich does not get many chances to play the puck. In a whole minute of play, I only counted two touches.

And then at 4:35, Samoskevich shows everyone why their offense should be running through him. Chicago creates a turnover at the boards, and Samoskevich circles at his defensive blueline before jetting past the Green Bay defenseman so he can protect the puck as he cuts across with a power move, almost scoring while showing off a great combination of speed, balance, and agility on his skates.

At 7:20, Chicago goes back to the power play. Samoskevich plays the puck from the wall to the goal line, and the puck goes back and forth between them before Samoskevich backs up beyond the faceoff circle. As the forward goes to block the passing lane to the top of the zone, Samoskevich fakes and skates into the faceoff circle, drags left at the dot to avoid a shot blocking defenseman, and rips off a shot that the goalie had no chance on. 1-1, and a goal for Samoskevich.

Back on the penalty kill at 8:45, Samoskevich does not have to do much work before the penalty expires, as they put him on the ice for roughly the last 20 seconds of the kill. At 11:10, Samoskevich gets a chance to score on a two-on-one, but the Green Bay goaltender makes a great save. Samoskevich has a defensive lapse at 12:20, as his goaltender created a lot of breakout issues for Chicago. Just as Samoskevich turns up ice at 12:27, another Green Bay forechecker comes in and receives a pass, nearly scoring. Towards the end of the game, Samoskevich showed some improved penalty kill positioning, but nothing particularly notable happened.

And if you would like a highlight video, here is one:

My Thoughts

Here is another guy I would be happy with in the late first round - but I do not think he should make it to the Devils’ second pick. I think his game is somewhat undersold, for what it’s worth. While Zuk and Kerr compared Samoksevich to Mitch Marner and Johnny Gaudreau, respectively, he reminded me more of Brayden Point. The reason I thought of that comparison is Samoksevich excels with stickhandling in tight on defensemen. Also like Point, Samoskevich always seems to be getting behind the defense. And while Samoskevich tries to make moves along the boards on defensemen, he is more reliant on speed than Point, who can fight through physical defense. But in terms of what Samoskevich tries to do? He looks like a USHL Brayden Point, with all of the little fakes, stickhandling, occasional power moves, and blowing by neutral zone coverage. He just does not have, as of now, Point’s slap shot, finishing ability, or strength. They have similar noses for the net.

Defensively, I think Chicago has done Samoskevich a disservice by only using him slightly on the penalty kill and not very much in even strength defensive situations. While scouts touted his positioning, I came away less than pleased by it from his game tape. However, in such a small sample of usage, I am not very concerned, and he seemed to be doing better in his final penalty killing shift than his first. His forechecking positioning seems much better than in the defensive zone, but he can afford to be more aggressive. If he had more defensive ice time, I would have been able to get a better read on the style of his defensive play.

Especially since the Devils will likely walk away from the podium with a defenseman at fourth overall, I think Mackie Samoskevich would be an excellent pick to finish the round if he is still available. I do not think many forwards can match his blend of skating and skill with the puck. He would certainly be able to keep up with the Devils’ top skaters, including the pace of play Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt are capable of playing at.

More on Mackie Samoskevich

Just four days ago, Scott Wheeler at The Athletic released this piece on the Samoskevich family’s experience during and after the Newtown Massacre. In this article, Mackie says:

“To see my sister in those spots, it’s something that I want to do, to be on TV and have everyone watching,” Mackie says. “Just seeing where she was and how she got there has been a huge thing in my life.

“And I also want to represent Sandy Hook. It’s my favorite place in the world.”

For those who can, I recommend reading this.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of Mackie Samoskevich? Do you think he would be a good selection? What do you make of his game tape? Do you think he will translate well to the NCAA? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for reading.