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Prospect Update: Josh Mahura
By Thomas Harrington
Anaheim’s third-round pick from 2016, Josh Mahura just completed his second professional season, splitting time between Anaheim and San Diego. Because of how many NHL games he has played over the last two seasons, Mahura is no longer a rookie, but given his overall lack of NHL experience, I still count him among Anaheim’s prospects.
Mahura’s second professional season saw him put up remarkably similar numbers to his rookie year. In the AHL, he scored four goals and 21 points in 44 games after scoring one goal and 19 points in 40 games the year before. In the NHL, he scored one goal and four points in 11 games after scoring one goal and five points in 17 games the year before. Mahura bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL throughout the year. He started off the season in San Diego before being recalled to Anaheim at the end of October. He made the trip between the two teams a total of four times before the season ended.
Despite spending so much time in Anaheim, Mahura was second in points and tied for second in goals scored by defensemen in San Diego. His offensive game took a little while to come around, and he actually hadn’t recorded any points with the Gulls before his first callup. However, his overall game was enough for him to earn that trip to the NHL. When he was returned to the Gulls, he started to put up some offensive numbers as well. With the Gulls, Mahura played primarily on the team’s top pairing. In the NHL, all three of Mahura’s assists came in the same game, his first NHL game of the season in late October against Winnipeg. His lone NHL goal came against Detroit in mid-November. He played primarily between 14 and 18 minutes a night, but he did play over 21 minutes once and under 12 minutes another time.
Last summer, I had two sets of expectations for Mahura, one for the AHL and one for the NHL. The Gulls had lost a lot of defensive depth, including Jaycob Megna, Trevor Murphy, and Andy Welinski. With their departure, I wanted him to step up and become one of the leaders in San Diego’s blueline. Well, by playing on their top pairing and being one of the team’s leading defensemen in goals, assists, and points, I’d say that he did that. I also expected him to break the 20 point mark, which he did, and I was hoping he would have hit the 30 point mark. While he fell short of that, I do think that if he’d played a full season with the Gulls, he would have, so in my mind, he met the AHL expectations that I set for him a year ago.
In the NHL, I wanted his overall game to continue to develop and for him to see more time on the team’s powerplay. While Mahura was overwhelmed at times, I do think his overall game got better as the season went on. On the powerplay, he averaged 52 seconds of ice time per game in the 2018-2019 season. This past season, he averaged 1:35, so he met that expectation as well. The only real issue here is he didn’t score any powerplay points, but they will come in time. Overall, Mahura met all the expectations that I set for him a year ago.
This coming year, my biggest expectation for Mahura is to play more in the NHL than the AHL. He’s proven that he can be a top pairing player in San Diego, now he needs to prove that he belongs in the NHL on a consistent basis. I do expect him to get some games with the Gulls, but he needs to be in Anaheim for the majority of the season. That won’t be an easy task for him since Anaheim’s defense is looking pretty set. The top four consists of Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, and Erik Gudbranson, so Mahura will be fighting for time on the team’s bottom pair. However, he’ll be facing off against other young players like Jacob Larsson and Brendan Guhle. There’s also the recently acquired Christian Djoos and Jani Hakanpaa, who played well for Anaheim late in the season and could get some serious NHL time next season. So Mahura will have his work cut out for him this season.
Mahura has one more season left on his entry-level contract and he’ll be a restricted free agent next summer. Unless he has an absolutely dominant season in Anaheim, I expect him to sign a deal very similar to the one that Guhle just agreed to, which was a one-way two-year extension worth $800,000 a season. As long as Mahura plays a majority of the year in Anaheim, I think he’ll have earned that contract. However, if he spends another season where he’s in San Diego most of the time, the Ducks could try and get him on a two-way deal instead.
The next prospect update will be on Jack Badini.
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July 14th, 2020