Maxim Massé (#7)
2024 NHL Draft Eligible
Position: RW, Shoots: R
H/W: 6’1”, 181lbs
Date of Birth: 2006-04-07
Stats to Date: 42-16-21-37
The Chicoutimi Sagueneens are a young team full of talent. They had a lot of high draft picks in the 2022 and 2023 QMJHL draft, building a large part of their team there. With their first pick of 2022, the third overall, they selected the young and promising Maxim Massé who earned rookie of the year for the entire CHL.
With the promising season he had last year comes high expectations for Massé for his draft year. Often seen in the top 15 at the start of the season, Massé has been falling because of his inconsistency on the ice. The level of talent has grown fast in the top 15, and he hasn’t shown enough impact to be a potential pick that early. Despite his fall in the ranking, Massé is still a first-round talent for us currently.
Since the start of the season, Massé’s game has evolved into something more mature. There is less risk in his playmaking and less cheating in his positioning. The problem with that is that he now plays a simpler game, becoming more predictable for the other team. His playmaking is the most affected, where he was very creative with his passing. Now that his game is more conservative, Massé adapts more easily to the situation he is put in. He can play a more defensive game, as he is now pretty responsible without the puck. And when you need someone to create a scoring chance, he can deliver the goods like his excellent shot, which he is mostly known for.
While consistency issues have made his production less than impressive, the potential and upside are still there. It is by looking in detail that we see what he can become as a future NHL player. As this is written, he is mostly expected to go in the end of the first round, very likely the first QMJHL selected.
To be an effective winger in the NHL, you have to be an adequate skater. Where I have been mostly impressed with Massé skating is the momentum he creates with almost no speed to begin with. His acceleration in a straight line is explosive, quickly reaching his top speed. However, his top speed is a little concerning. His speed limit is quickly reached, and that gives chances to opponents to close the gap and catch him. To counter his speed limitations, he often slows down the play once the opponent is close, opting for a pass or sending the puck deep in the zone.
His straight-line stride seems powerful and maybe better endurance/conditioning will help him gain more speed. Those types of things aren’t usually difficult to improve with training and time.
It’s quite the opposite for his agility and lateral movement. Moving East/West seems difficult, often relying on his straight-line skating to gain speed. While Massé’s edgework isn’t really a strength, his feet move quickly, helping him to get well positioned to shoot or to receive a pass. He opens his feet facing the puck, keeping good stability to continue his movement.
In this first clip, Massé (#7) is on the other side of the ice for the transition. After receiving a great pass from his teammate, we can see Massé opening his body toward the puck to keep his speed. This little move helps him get enough time and space to cut to the net, giving him an excellent chance to score.
We can see here the explosion of Massé where he gains most of his speed in the straight line. The stride is a little long but powerful. Nice slowing down of the play to finish it with a goal.
Another example of Massé’s explosion as he leads an entry. However, we see close to the end of the clip that the 180° pivot of Massé isn’t fast enough to evade his opponent.
Great read from Massé to go toward the center to get that pass. We can see his poise while shooting the puck. He is already strong and that speed + his shot could become a real threat later in his career.
When Massé is in the offensive zone, it’s easy to see his eagerness to shoot the puck. His stick is more often than not high in the air, asking for a pass whenever it’s possible. Being the best attribute in Massé’s game, not only does he use it often, but his arsenal is also diversified. One time, he enters the zone at full speed and uses his favorite drag and release shot. Another time, he places himself in the center of the zone and one-times the puck at the net. Massé’s one-timer is probably the most precise of his shots and with the power he has, he is a real powerplay threat. A part of his shooting tools that is underestimated in my opinion is his backhand shot. He has a great power in it that the goalie doesn’t anticipate.
Where it gets a little problematic for Massé is from where he shoots those pucks. A great number of his shots are taken from afar and the result is either that he misses the net or that the puck is easily stopped. This often stops the momentum in the offensive zone. Even well positioned, Massé tends to try hitting the perfect corner in the net and the play often ends with a new faceoff in the offensive zone. A thing that I have seen lately in Massé’s game is that he is trying to play between the dots more, causing some great scoring chances from the slot.
This is the type of chance that I want Massé to take more. He is patient with the puck, freezing the defender and going towards the center to take a dangerous shot. With the power he has, that could be a goal more often than not.
Massé has great shooting diversity. He doesn’t take many one-timers in a game, and sometimes he waits a little too much for a perfect line to shoot. It is on the powerplay that he takes most of his one timer and sometimes, it pays off. Great shot again!
Another example of his diverse shooting type. This is a nice passing play, completed with a nice, and surprisingly powerful, backhand shot that beats the goaltender top shelf.
We can see here how fast and powerful his release is. The goaltender doesn’t have time to react, but lucky for him, Massé’s shot missed the net.
Massé really likes to shoot on the rush. Although he is sometimes too far away from the net to create something from his shot, there are times that, with speed and closer to the net, it could generate a great scoring chance.
When it comes to skills, Massé’s repertoire is very diversified. He is not the high pace type of player that passes through everyone to score a goal, but when the pace of play slows down, we can see him showing his skills. He is highly deceptive with the puck, leading the opposing defender to make a misstep in his positioning. If the defender overcommits and tries to steal the puck from him, Massé’s hands are quick enough that he can pass the puck between the defender's legs or pass around him to get a scoring chance. He will need better speed to create separation with the opponent at a higher level, but once he gets a little bit of space with the puck, Massé knows how to use it to his advantage.
Massé likes to enter the offensive zone with speed and is able to push deep into the zone, there doesn’t seem to be any flaws in his puck control. It’s like the puck wants to stay on his stick. Even when someone puts pressure on him and forces him to slow down, Massé’s puck protection and quick pivots make sure that he keeps the puck away from the opponent. Once in a dangerous position, he becomes a double threat as he can suddenly shoot or pass the puck. I was really impressed by Massé's playmaking ability at the beginning of the season, as he was seeing passing lines before they seemed to appear. But as the season has progressed, he has become hyper focused on shooting.
When a defender is overcommitting, Massé is quick to move the puck away from him. His hands are not the smoothest, but he can still make some impressive moves like this one. Not only has he beaten the defender, but he also puts himself in a better position to take a shot.
Do not push Massé when he looks down with no speed, he surely knows your whereabouts and he will certainly find a way to pass the puck around you! Quick hands here, passing around the defender before trying to pass the puck to his teammate.
This is the type of play Massé was doing at the start of the season. Although his game is now less risky, this type of creativity is always interesting in a prospect. In this clip, the pass failed, but it was well executed. First, he makes everyone think he’s going to shoot, leaving his teammate alone for a pass. Then, with a great spinorama, he tries to reach him, but he misses. Still a great play.
This pass is impressive. The play looks dead, but just by putting his stick away from him, he opens a passing line. Great pass on the tape that led to a high-quality scoring chance.
This area is the grey zone of Massé. Consistency has been the issue, especially regarding his decision making with the puck. Without the puck, Massé seems to have a good understanding of the game. He always places himself in a position where he could dangerously shoot the puck. On the rush, he likes to cut to the net. With the puck, the rush is more problematic. He tends to shoot the moment the defender is closing, resulting in a weak and too often missed shot.
Other than shooting from a place where there is no real chance to score, Massé’s decision-making is good enough. He can still be prone to some boneheaded passes, but he has worked to simplify his playmaking approach. He is pretty effective when he does pass, knowing before receiving the puck to whom he will send it next. He likes to do things fast, and when at times it creates a beautiful play, at other times, it kills the play. In the defensive zone, it is not rare to see Massé trying to sneak behind defencemen to get a breakaway. It works at times, but in the NHL, this is way more difficult.
There are subtle things that Massé does that indicate a good level of hockey IQ. When he crashes to the net, he often lifts the opponent's stick, giving a little more space to his teammates passing behind him. He does a similar play when the puck is free on the ice close to him. He lifts the opponent's stick before one of them gets to the puck, destabilizing him and with that winning the puck before any 50/50 battles happen.
That’s a nice play from Massé here. When the puck arrives to him, he sees the defender closing. With a one-touch pass to himself pushing the puck behind the defender, he is now alone in a breakaway. That small play created a big scoring chance, resulting in a precise shot that beat the goaltender.
This is a short clip that again illustrates the quick thinking of Massé. At the start of the clip, we can see Massé scan where his teammates are. When the puck arrives, he redirects it directly to his teammate.
Some shots must not be taken, like this one. This shot is weak and imprecise, and it gives the other team a chance to restart the attack. Massé has enough space to go deeper in the zone and make a different play.
That type of play doesn’t happen too often with Massé. In this case, he tried to play too fast once he had the puck, forcing a play that didn't exist.
This is a part of his game that Massé will need to work on. He has the frame to be a lot more physical in some areas of his game, like going into 50/50 battles, but he often opts to play away from them. At 6′1 and strong on his skates, Massé could hold a player along the boards or deliver some solid hits with more consistency.
I find that Massé often lacks intensity, especially when it comes to going in the corner and fighting for the puck. He will try to steal the puck between the opponent’s legs, without really using his body to create a separation between the opponent and the puck. It usually results in a loss of possession. In front of the net, I have seen him fight to keep a good position to stay there. The intensity can be there, and it helps him create a lot of opportunities. If he could get fully invested in battles along the boards and create more from the wall, it could help him become more consistent.
That is the type of hit that I have seen Massé deliver the most. The puck gets behind the net and while he enters the zone with speed, he finishes the play with a hit. The defenceman, seeing Massé charging, gets rid of the puck quickly and in this case, it results in an interception.
In this clip, I find that Massé’s intensity could be better. First, when the puck came along the board, he did a good job stopping the zone exit. Then, the play swings behind the net. Being there first, he was looking to pass in front of the net, but he was not protecting the puck and lost it. With more intensity and a better puck protection, he could have gotten out of that spot in control of the puck.
A note on the 20-80 scale used above. We look at five attributes (skating, shooting, puck skills, hockey IQ and physicality) for skaters and six for goalies (athleticism/quickness, compete/temperament, vision/play reading, technique/style, rebound control and puck handling). Each individual attribute is graded along the 20-80 scales, which includes half-grades. The idea is that a projection of 50 in a given attribute meant that our observer believed that the player could get to roughly NHL average at that attribute at maturity.