Ryan Fitzgerald fell farther in the draft than he expected, but the hometown Boston Bruins grabbed him with the 120th overall pick in the 4th round of the 2013 NHL Draft. Fitzgerald is the son of NHL veteran and Penguins assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald, and the nephew of Bruins assistant director of amateur scouting Scott Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald grew up in North Reading, Mass. and played high school hockey for former Merrimack coach Chris Serino at Malden Catholic where the Lancers won two state championships. The Boston College recruit then moved on to play for Andy Heinze and the Valley Warriors in the Eastern Junior Hockey League.
Fitzgerald's stock fell in the latter part of the season with some scouts questioning his ability to bring his game to the next level. His hockey smarts have never been debated as he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
"I tried to stay positive throughout [the draft]. To be picked by the Bruins is a greater feeling than anything else I've had through this point so honestly it didn't bother me too much," said Fitzgerald on his draft day experience.
He'll have a chance to develop his game under one of the best coaches in the business when he takes his game to Boston College in the fall. Eagles head coach Jerry York is the all-time coaching wins leader in NCAA history.
"Playing for Coach York is one of the reasons I went there. Hopefully we'll be able to carry on the winning tradition this fall," said Fitzgerald.
Besides his father and uncle, his younger brother Casey is a fellow Boston College recruit, but for the 2015 season. Fitzgerald has plenty of family to lean on when trying to improve his play.
"My dad helped me with my defensive awareness more than anything. He was a defensive specialist when he played and that's the one thing that rubbed off on me. I started off as an offensive guy, but he told me that if I wanted to play, I'd have to get better in my own end."
Fitzgerald will have plenty of chance to grow and improve his game at Boston College for the next four years under York. Tom Fitzgerald has implied on more than one occasion it is the family's intentions to have Ryan stay in school until he graduates.
Jeff Cox is a hockey reporter for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.