A year ago, a team signing Mason Marchment to a contract worth $18 million would have been unheard of.
But then last season happened.
Marchment, the Stars’ newest addition to their forward group after he signed during free agency Wednesday, was a force for the President’s Trophy-winning Panthers. He led the team in points and goals per 60 minutes at 5 on 5. He was more effective at play-driving than any other Florida forward. He finished with 47 points in 54 games with the Panthers, highlighted by his six-point night against Toronto in January, shortly followed by a hat trick.
For an undrafted player who began his professional career in the ECHL and has played just 91 NHL games, he is now being asked to help drag Dallas’ offense from the bottom of the league.
“It’s definitely been a journey, but it’s one I wouldn’t trade for anything,” Marchment said. “I had to work for what I’ve gotten out of the game. I just want to show respect to the game, just keep working hard.”
The offense was there for Marchment last season, but the production was simply a byproduct of everything else he does that has made him an analytics darling. He prides himself on retrieving pucks, on possessing the puck, on exiting the defensive zone with possession. He likes to forecheck, to create pressure and open ice for his skilled linemates.
Sam Reinhart had a career season playing with Marchment. Anton Lundell garnered Calder Trophy votes with Marchment on his line. They combined to form one of the league’s best third lines to complement Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau higher in the lineup.
He will be asked to do more in Dallas than play 12 minutes, 59 seconds at 5 on 5 per game.
“Florida gave me a really good opportunity to play there with some good players,” Marchment said. “We found some chemistry. I think coming over to Dallas, I just want to do a lot of the same things: get to the net, be heavy, be hard to play against.”
Marchment signed with the Stars during one of the most difficult times of his life, after his father Bryan died last week in Montreal before the NHL draft. Bryan played in the NHL for 17 years and was a scout with San Jose for 15 years.
Bryan had relationships with two of Dallas’ new coaches. Steve Spott was friends with Bryan “for a long time,” Mason said, and the Marchments used to go watch games in Kitchener and visit with Spott afterward. Mason said Spott “was always great for me.”
Recent head coach hire Peter DeBoer knew Bryan during their time together in San Jose.
“He was a big part of my career, was a big role model for me and someone I always looked up to,” Mason said of his dad. “He always just said ‘Go out there, have fun and play hard.’ That’s what I’ve been trying to do throughout my whole career. Definitely thankful for everything he did for me growing up.”
Marchment said he’s also met Joe Pavelski before, and works out with Tyler Seguin during the summer.
By signing Marchment, the Stars should be deeper up front behind Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski. His 47 points (in 54 games) would have ranked fifth among Stars forwards last season, sandwiched between Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.
Marchment said Dallas was a top-three destination for him in free agency before he even started talking to teams.
“I don’t think the hunger is going to be a problem,” Marchement said. “I’m a really competitive person. All I want to do is win. My whole career, all I want to do was make the playoffs and make a push.”