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2011 NHL Draft Prospect: Rocco Grimaldi

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Name: Rocco Grimaldi

Height: 5' 6"

Weight: 161 lbs.

10-11 team: US National Development Team Under-18

10-11 stats: 58 games, 39 goals, 34 assists, 73 points

Prospect Info:

The first thing that stands out about Rocco Grimaldi is his diminutive size. But Grimaldi is also one of the most exciting, dynamic forward prospects the US has produced in recent years. He has almost unparalleled speed, and plays with remarkable tenacity. He's not necessarily a pure scorer, but was able to lead the US NTDP team in scoring this past season. He's a center that can play effectively in any situation.

Grimaldi will play next for the University of North Dakota.

Links of Interest:

USA Hockey Profile

Rocco Grimaldi Feature-USA Hockey Magazine-January 2011

Bruins Draft Watch: Rocco Grimaldi-Kirk Luedeke-January 2011

Q & A with Rocco Grimaldi- United States of Hockey-February 2011

Grimaldi 'Huge' Threat for Team USA-NHL.com-May 2011

Draft Prospect Profile: Rocco Grimaldi-Jackets Cannon-June 2011

On WCH:

September 24, 2007: "This was my first chance to get to see him. I had heard some mixed reports on him in the past, but I was very impressed. He’s a little guy that can stickhandle around anyone. He really reminds me of Jordan Schroeder. He should be a nice college player."

August 18, 2008: "By far the most exciting player at the camp. He's little, but is a great skater and has incredible tenacity. Aside from being very skilled offensively, he was probably the best defensive forward at the camp. I think he has the potential to be a very special player."

September 21, 2009: "Probably the best player on the team. He's small, but is just a freakish athlete. He's the fastest player out there, and works ten times harder than anyone. There were probably four or five times that he blew past someone or made a crazy stickhandling move that made the whole crowd say 'Wow'. He was by far the team's best penalty killer and isn't afraid to hit people. He had to have ended up the team's leading scorer or close to it, and he probably had a dozen other opportunities where the timing between his feet and hands was just a little off and he just missed scoring.He's going to be a very special player."

December 15, 2010: "I still say Grimaldi is number one (among NTDP prospects) without a doubt on my list. I gave up on doubting Grimaldi for his size long ago, and would have him in the top ten, maybe even top five on my draft board. He's just the absolute fastest, most explosive player I've ever seen. He didn't score on this night, but created some great chances that I don't think any other player could have. ."

Final Analysis

I've told this story a few times before, but this will most likely be my most read post about Rocco Grimaldi so I'll share it again. The first time I saw Rocco Grimaldi play was with the Little Caesar's Midget Minor team. I had heard good things about him, but assumed that moving up to the more physical U16 level, he'd start to fade. He was by far the best player on the ice. The following summer I got the chance to watch him skate at the national Select 15 Festival, and assumed that going up against the best talent in the nation, he wouldn't be as dominate. Again, he was the best player on the ice. In his first game with the US NTDP U17 team, I was sure that a player of his size wouldn't be able to keep up with the older, more physically mature junior hockey players. Again, he was the best player on the ice. By that point, I decided that I was done leaving the rink feeling stupid and vowed never to doubt his abilities to make it at the next level of play just because of his size. He's truly an exceptional athlete with amazing physical abilities.

If it were up to me, I'd have no problem taking Grimaldi with a top ten pick in this year's draft. NHL teams are likely to be a little more conservative about using such a high pick on a player that is going to be deemed risky because of his size. Most likely, Grimaldi will go in the mid-to-late first round, possibly even dropping into the second round, though he could be a huge steal in the draft.