Photo Credit: Aaron Bell / OHL Images
Scouting Report written by Paul Zuk
The 2021 NHL Draft is almost spoilt for choice it seems, when it comes to skilled offensive defensemen. Names such as Owen Power, Brandt Clarke, and Luke Hughes will likely be off the board by halfway through the first round. However, when it comes to more defensive defensemen, Ethan Del Mastro is definitely among the highest in demand.
The Freelton, Ontario product grew up playing his youth hockey for the Toronto Marlboros AAA program, up until the U16 ranks. In his U16 AAA season, Del Mastro put up some impressive numbers for a defensive defenseman, scoring eight times and adding 36 assists for 44 points in 73 games. He also racked up two goals and 19 assists for 21 points in 33 games during U16 GTHL competitions.
Del Mastro was selected 12th overall by the Steelheads in the 2019 OHL Draft, and began his major junior career in the 2019/20 season. He played in 57 games for Mississauga in his rookie season, averaging 17:14min/game of ice time. As many younger OHL players tend to not be thrust into the offensive zone early on, Del Mastro’s numbers weren’t overly great, tallying seven assists on the season. However, he looked to fit the bill defensively.
This past season, Del Mastro chose not to go south of the border or overseas to play, like a handful of OHL’ers did to increase their draft stock and to stay in game shape. He did, however, join Team Canada’s roster for the IIHF U18 World Championship Tournament in Frisco, where he played in seven games, registering two assists. With the 2021/22 OHL season due to commence in September, look for Del Mastro to shine this year, being the leader on the Steelhead blueline.
D.O.B – January 15, 2003
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –205 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left
Del Mastro’s Style Of Play
With the 2020/21 OHL season being cancelled in it’s entirety due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been incredibly difficult for many players to showcase their development and improvements to NHL front offices and scouts. Ethan Del Mastro is no exception.
That being said, Del Mastro is excellent defender capable of shutting down the most potent attackers in the OHL. He played top-four minutes in his 16-year old rookie season for the Steelheads, and never looked out of place. Coming into the 2021/22 season, Del Mastro will be counted on to be the leader on the blueline, and he definitely has the tools to do so.
Defensively, Del Mastro is about as solid as they come for a player who really doesn’t have an abundance of experience at the major junior level. He’s able to use his size and strength to muscle attackers off of the puck, especially in the slot and along the boards in his own zone.
Offensively, there seems to be a fair bit of untapped potential with Del Mastro, as he has shown his ability to effectively breakout of his own zone and be a difference maker in the transition game. However, it seems that he may lack a little bit of confidence when it comes to his skills in the offensive zone.
In watching his film from 2019/20 with Mississauga and the U18’s with Team Canada, it was noticeable that Del Mastro would prefer to dish the puck off to a teammate or dump the puck in the corner after completing a zone entry, rather than keep possession of the puck. It could be chalked up to several different reasons, but it’s likely with a little more seasoning under his belt, he’ll feel more comfortable to drive the play into the high danger areas, or wait for reinforcements to exploit the open ice for a scoring chance via a pass.
In my opinion, Del Mastro’s skating could very well be the most impressive feature of his overall game. His skating ability is relatively surprising, considering most 6’4, 200lbs defensemen aren’t as agile or quick on their feet as he is.
His skating stride is very powerful, and he’s able to pick up a decent amount of speed as he skates between the defensive zone and the neutral zone. It’s definitely not a conventional looking stride, but it doesn’t seem to effect his skating abilities at all.
Del Mastro’s edges are also quite impressive, as he’s able to stop on a dime, pivot, and change direction with little to no difficulty. Not only is he strong on his skates, he’s extremely mobile, which allows him to be a threat in transition. If Del Mastro can find a way to garner a little more explosiveness when navigating through the neutral zone, it will only benefit his overall game, not to mention his transitional skills.
Del Mastro shows promise in transition, as he can ease his way through the neutral zone with the puck on his stick. However, he could use his size and speed to his advantage, and be a little more patient with the puck rather than rushing his decisions off the rush.
Del Mastro also has a powerful and fairly accurate wrist shot and slapshot from the point. It’s clear he’s spent some time during the missed OHL season fine tuning his shot, as it’s definitely improved over the past season.
While in the offensive zone, Del Mastro is able to hold the blueline and look for a clear path on net when shooting from the point, and he can also seek out teammates for passes down low with a fair bit of success.
Del Mastro’s hands are another surprising aspect of his game which often are overlooked. He’s able to navigate the offensive zone and evade defenders with little difficulty, and it usually results in a successful pass to a teammate or in a shot on goal.
Considered more of a defensive defenseman, Del Mastro is quite fun to watch with the play in his own zone. He likes to force the play to the edges of the zone as attackers are breaking in, which allows him to close off gaps, effectively rub his opponent off of the puck and obtain possession. Del Mastro is also efficient at using his size and strength to win puck battles pretty much anywhere in the defensive zone, and isn’t often forced off of the puck.
Del Mastro is also not afraid to step up and pressure attackers breaking in to make a forced decision with the puck, usually resulting in the puck being dumped in and retrieved by Del Mastro’s teammates. This trait will help him this coming season as he’ll be tasked with defending the likes of Shane Wright, Mason McTavish, and Brandt Clarke.
Del Mastro looked fairly impressive for Team Canada at the U18’s in Frisco, Texas. He was paired mainly with 2021 eligible Jack Matier, who also shined defensively in the tournament. Perhaps the most notable aspect of Del Mastro’s U18 tournament was his ability to keep talents like Fabian Lysell, Isak Rosen, and Matvei Michkov relatively in check over the course of the tournament.
While watching film on the young and fairly inexperienced defender, it’s almost unfair to critique his game too much, as there’s such a limited sample size. It goes without saying, but he definitely needs at least a season or two in the OHL to further development.
That being said, there are a couple of minor tweaks to Del Mastro’s overall game to which he could look to improve on.
Defensively, he has a tendency to chase the play in the defensive zone, especially if on an extended shift. Del Mastro should look to simplify his game when hemmed down in his own zone and not chase the puck carrier, but rather focus on positioning and clogging up passing/shooting lanes.
Offensively, Del Mastro definitely has the hockey smarts and skills to become a reliable, two-way defender at the next level, especially if he can gain some confidence and experience in the OHL this season. He’s shown he can be effective in transition and zone entries in limited viewings, so he’ll no doubt be looking to expand on that aspect of his game later on this year.
As mentioned above, it’s incredibly hard for scouts to get a firm grip on this years crop of OHL players, as the majority of players weren’t able to showcase their skillset and overall potential. Keeping that in mind, it could make for an interesting draft, as players like Del Mastro could be ranked anywhere from the 2nd round to the 5th round depending on the draft board.
Del Mastro seems to have the imperative skills to be a successful defensive defenseman, as he can direct play away from the danger areas, and is capable of playing that shutdown defenseman role when needed. Only time will tell if he can take that next step in development to increase his offensive output, so look for Del Mastro to be a force offensively with the Steelheads in the fall.
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Paul Zuk. If you would like to follow Paul on Twitter, his handle is @paulzuk_81.
Looking for other scouting reports? Check out the Prospects tab for our other scouting reports.
Need a scouting report on a particular prospect, contact us today!