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Mackie Samoskevich's Hard Work Pays off in Monster Rookie Year

May 9, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Charlotte Checkers News Release

Mackie Samoskevich had a monster of a rookie year.

That much is evident just from looking at the 21-year-old's statline - he led the Checkers in scoring, was the third-highest scoring rookie in the AHL and made a handful of appearances at the NHL level.

What isn't quite as evident is the level of work that Samoskevich put in to get to that point.

"He's a great young player and a great young kid with an unbelievable work ethic," said head coach Geordie Kinnear. "That will continue to do great things later on for him."

The 24th overall pick in 2021, Samoskevich made his NHL debut at the start of the season before heading to Charlotte, where he worked on navigating the substantial jump from college to the pros.

"That first, I'd say quarter, there was a huge adjustment for me," said Samoskevich. "Coming from school you're not used to playing Saturday and Sunday and then on Wednesday and being on the road - there's stuff that you learn really fast. You've got to learn to be a pro. It's not easy and you have to earn everything you get. That's one thing that I learned really fast, once I kind of took that away and went with it."

Samoskevich posted a solid 10 points through his first 17 AHL games, but as he collected more experience and gained more comfort as a pro, something clicked.

"You watched throughout the year how he played the game the right way," said Kinnear. "Then the production happened after that."

That production amounted to a staggering 44 points over his final 45 games of the season.

"I kept learning and learning and let the snowball get bigger and bigger," said Samoskevich.

As the young forward kept pushing himself and tapping into that work ethic, he evolved into one of Charlotte's premier offensive weapons and a force to be reckoned with at this level.

"It speaks volumes of the self awareness," said Kinnear. "And of him being a student of the game and a good competitor. I think he took some big strides within himself."

After the grind of a full AHL season - plus seven games with Florida - Samoskevich is coming out the other side with plenty to be proud of.

"It's night and day," he said. "I think I'm a better player than when I came in. That was a huge goal this year."

As for Florida, having one of its top prospects growing and excelling is a huge win for the future, and the organization has kept close tabs on Samoskevich's trajectory.

"The communication has been good," said Samoskevich of the line between himself and the Panthers. "The biggest thing for me this year was to learn the pro game and get better and get my body and mind better and mature a little bit, and I thought I did that. I thought it was a great year for me and I think [Florida and I] are both happy, for sure."

A strong work ethic pushed Samoskevich through the ups and downs of a pro season, but it's not stopping there.

"I've got a mindset to get better every day and I think over time it adds up," he said. "That's what I've been doing and I think it's been working for me. It's showing for sure. I'll continue to do that. I'm going to take some time off to recharge the battery, but then just continue to get better, round my game out, stay on the ice, get in the gym. I know it'll help me come training camp. I know I have the right mindset around the summer."

Samoskevich has come a long way since beginning his rookie year, but even with all the growth he experienced and the work he put in and the accolades he acquired, his biggest takeaway from the season is simply being grateful for the opportunity.

"I'm just super thankful to be here," said Samoskevich. "Reflecting on it, I'm super lucky to be here and in Florida. I think they gave me some good opportunities and I cherished it. You have to sit back and be thankful for the year and be grateful to be in a city like Charlotte with the coaching staff and the group that we had."

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