How far will the Rangers get this season?

Possible First Round Pick: Rocco Grimaldi

Rocco Grimaldi (Via

Rocco Grimaldi (Via

The Rangers currently have five defensemen under the age of 28 on their roster and two more top prospects on the way, so it’s very likely New York will be looking to add some offensive firepower with its first-round pick, No. 15 overall in the NHL Draft.

Between now and June 24th, we’ll take a look at some of the forwards that the Rangers might be thinking about taking on draft day.  Today, we look at…

Rocco Grimaldi

HT: 5-6

WT: 163

Pos: C

Shoots: R

Birthday: 2/8/93

Team: USA, U18

2009-2010 stats: 7g, 16a, 26gp, 12PIM

2010-2011 stats: 34g, 28a, 50gp, 57PIM

2010-2011 playoffs: N/A profile > 



The Hockey News: 32

CSS: 32 Midterm Rank: 25

ISS: 15 

TSN: 23 Midterm Rank: 31 

TSN (Craig Button): N/A 

The Scouting Report: 18 Midterm Rank: 26 

Bruins 2011 Draft Watch: N/A

Corey Pronman: 10 

ESPN: 37


Highlight Reel > 


What They’re Saying:

THN – “There is undersized and then there is Rocco Grimaldi size.  At just 5-foot-6, he would be one of the shortest players in the NHL, but talent evaluators just can’t shake the fact the kid produces at an excellent clip, no matter what the venue.  ‘He’s a special small player,’ one scout said.  ‘Everywhere he’s been, he’s been dynamic.  I don’t know what he’s listed at, but he looks stocky.’  And that’s the key: You can be short as long as you’re stout and Grimaldi is strong on the puck.  In United States League play, he was not afraid to throw hits and mix it up with larger competition and against older college players, while still the NTDP’s top scorer.  Bound for North Dakota, Grimaldi’s game is about speed and his ability to put defenders on their heels is a main strength, as are his hands.  Don’t be surprised if a team trades up in the draft to make sure they grab this diminutive dangle king.”

The Scouting Report – “Easily one of the more skilled players available in the draft, Grimaldi has a proven track record of production at every level. Strong work ethic and dedication to the game have enabled him to develop skills in skating, passing, shooting and puck handling that could comprise a video on “How To….” All indications are that he’ll keep developing as he moves up the ladder. The only obvious knock is his size.” 

Bruins 2011 Draft Watch –“Every time we watch him, we marvel at how noticeable and dynamic a little player he is. He didn't get on the scoresheet a bunch today, but he made a lot of plays defensively and on the PK to balance it out. He's still got issues with the size and strength, but he plays with so much intensity, and the fact that he made noticeable plays to knock Scheifele off the puck (leading directly to a Boucher goal) and then did it later to Travis Ewanyk, another guy much bigger than he, you have to give the youngster credit. Even if the points aren't coming in bunches (2 goals, 5 assists) he's doing a bunch of other things to help his team winner.”

Corey Pronman - "The most common phrase I hear in reference to Rocco Grimaldi when I talk to scouts usually goes along the lines of, "If only he was 5'11", then he'd go first overall." He is one of the, if not the most gifted player in this draft class from a pure hockey skills perspective. Grimaldi's a true plus skater with well above-average acceleration and gets to a plus top speed after a handful of strides. He's agile standing still and in motion, and I've seen him out-skate a defender chasing him skating forward while he was merely side stepping. He possesses plus puck skills and in regards to when the puck is on his stick, there's really not a single area where there's an issue. His hand-eye coordination, stick-handling, passing, even to a degree his puck protection is all there and at a desirable level. Grimaldi's shot is also at a plus level, and he can score with his wrist shot or slapper from well beyond the crease area and he generates a large amount of power on all his shots. He thinks the game at a solid to above-average level, has notable vision with the puck that allows to him execute plus passes regularly, although I have at times seem him force plays here and there. He's solid defensively, and is effective at even-strength and on the penalty kill in that regard. Grimaldi's intangibles are off the charts; he simply flies up and down the ice and does whatever it takes to get the puck off players. Despite the 5'6" frame, he regularly challenges players much bigger than him and wins his fair share of battles although not enough to erase the liability. The frame will continue to hamper his absolute potential for his entire career, but if there was ever an ideal model of a player who could overcome being well below-average size-wise, that player would be Rocco Grimaldi." – “Although he stands just 5-foot-6, Grimaldi is a big-time player and one whom scouts aren’t going to let their GMs wait on come draft day. He led Team USA in scoring this season with 34 goals and 62 points in 50 games, playing mostly on a line with J.T. Miller and Reid Boucher.  ‘I use my speed really well,’ Grimaldi said. ‘I try to play a skill game and make my teammates better.’  A California kid who went east to Michigan to play for the vaunted Little Caesar’s program, Grimaldi is a Detroit Red Wings fan and counts Pavel Datsyuk as one of several players he tries to learn from.  ‘I’ve been a Red Wings fan all my life,’ he said. ‘I just love watching them, I love how they play puck possession.’  A tireless worker off the ice, Grimaldi is known for his dedication in both practice and the weight room. His team has been successful internationally this year and just took home gold at the World Under-18 Championship. Familiarity within the two-year NTDP program certainly helps.  ‘Last year was really important for us,’ he said, ‘because you get to build relationships with the guys.’  That chemistry has resulted in a good amount of gold - and Grimaldi’s not done yet. Though his Canadian League rights are owned by powerhouse Portland, he’s adamant he will be attending the University of North Dakota next year.” – “Even as a kid, Rocco Grimaldi struggled to find a hockey program that suited his needs.  He was too aggressive and too advanced to compete in Southern California house leagues against players his age. The only option was to survive in a 9- and 10-year-old league that occasionally had room for the gifted 7- or 8-year old.  Rocco was 5.” – “Rocco Grimaldi believes size and strength only can get you so far. Eventually, speed and smarts will win out.  It's a formula that has worked liked a charm for the 5-foot-6, 163-pound center with the U.S. National Team Developmental Program's Under-18 team.  ‘If ever I lose a battle in the corner with a big guy, it's not because he's bigger or stronger than me, it's because I did something wrong and he just took advantage,’ the 17-year-old Grimaldi told ‘I didn't get in or get out quick enough. It really makes no difference to me how much a guy weighs. I'll go in there no matter what because if I'm not willing to do that, then my teammates wouldn't be able to rely on me and I definitely want them to be able to rely on me at all times." Grimaldi needn't worry about not having an impact despite his stature, that's for sure. He's been doing it since the age of 5 when he began competing against kids twice his age in Southern California on travel roller and ice hockey teams.   I guess it's just something inside of me," he said. "Some guys like playing in games where they can rack up points against an inferior opponent, but that's not me. I want to be playing against the best … playing for a division title or gold medal or tournament championship. I like when there's something on the line or your season's at stake, and being able to produce at that time.’” – “Said one scout who scouted Rocco Grimaldi extensively: ‘He's ahead of Brian Gionta at the same stage in terms of skating and skills, but he doesn't know the game as well as Gionta does. Against draft-eligible kids he doesn't get pushed off the puck and he has a wide stance that gives him real balance. That also keeps him so low that he's hard to hit. When he has played against college players [with the USNTDP] it's a different story. Other [USNTDP players] struggle with the physical play against the older players too but you just can't see him growing enough or getting that much stronger that he'll be able to fight through it. He's not a jockey. He's more like a bowling ball.’  The doubters will say that Grimaldi doesn't share the puck as much as he could, or should. They'll also always drag height into the equation. Those who are keenly interested though point to Gionta or Tyler Ennis in Buffalo as height-challenged guys that are effective in the league.  Coming out of the Five Nations, those scouts who didn't list him among their top prospects before weren't about to change their minds -- he could have lit up the tournament and they wouldn't have budged. But those who are open to a 5-foot-6 guy with great speed are grading him up at this point. The tournament might solidify his place in the No. 25-to-35 range.”


Hockey Spy – “You'd think, watching him play, that Grimaldi was at least 6'2", so it does seem a little shocking that a player of his capabilities is only an inch taller than Nathan Gerbe.  His height gives him an advantage on skates with explosive acceleration and short, quick strides that makes it easy to beat defenders.  His shots are deceptively quick, as well as accurate.  Give him time to windup for a slapshot and he will make any goalie pay.  With his height limitations, Grimaldi's stickwork is key because a taller defender means a longer reach.  Grimaldi's hockey smarts have been able to kick in to make moves before the opposing player knows what hit him.  Take into account his low center of gravity, and you have a complete player who is very difficult to knock off the puck.”  

The Hockey Writers – “Rocco Grimaldi is the most skilled forward in the draft. He possesses an incredibly dynamic offensive game, and has all the right tools. The question remains, what is holding back scouts from declaring Grimaldi a consensus top five pick?  To put it simply, his size could hold him back from being elite. It’s an unfortunate reality that players five and a half feet tall aren’t too common in the NHL, and a reality that Grimaldi will have to deal with. Size is not something you can learn by putting extra hours in at the rink. It is either something that you have, or you don’t.  Grimaldi spent the last two seasons playing for the US National Development team honing those elite offensive skills, and will take his talents to the University of North Dakota in the fall.  Those elite offensive skills include; lightning fast foot speed, a deadly quick release, dazzling agility, and a MENSA level hockey IQ. Grimaldi has the full package of a dynamic offensive player.  Among all the talk of his offensive ability, his heart and drive get lost when you read scouting reports. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. If Rocco Grimaldi were asked what the most valuable thing he could bring to the team that drafts him would be, he would tell you it’s his drive to be the best, and be a great leader.” 

Kyle Woodlief, Red Line Report – “Grimaldi gets no respect at all and is often completely overlooked simply because his stature at a minuscule 5-6, 161 pounds. But he is the most explosive offensive force in the draft with dynamic speed and the best one-timer in this year's class. Despite his lack of size, he's aggressive, not afraid of traffic and is difficult to get a clean hit on because of his east-west agility.”




Mock Drafts:

Adam Kimelman, – N/A 

Mike Morreale, – N/A 

Steven Hoffner, – N/A 

Deven Persaud, – N/A – 25

Gary Joyce, ESPN – N/A 

Mark Seidel, CBC – 15 

Hockey's Future - N/A

The Hockey News - 23


Thoughts: Grimaldi’s skills, work ethic, and determination make him a tempting, but he has a lot to overcome based solely on his size.  Grimaldi could be the most talented player in the draft, but he can’t escape the ‘5-6’ number that is pasted on all of his profiles.  Still, the fact is that shorter players don’t often succeed in the NHL.  Some teams will likely fall in love with Grimaldi, but there’s no doubt that he’s a risk.

With Mats Zuccarello already on the roster and Christian Thomas and Ryan Bourque on the way, the Rangers probably have their fill of small young forwards.  They’ll likely be looking to add size up front in this draft, and he’ll be long gone before their second round picks. 

 Season Review:

Breaking Down The Defense >

Breaking Down The Goalies >

Breaking Down The Offense >

Breaking Down The Prospects >

How Three Free Agent Signings In 2007 Have Shaped The Eastern Conference >

Spotlight On Glen Sather >

Spotlight On John Tortorella >

Rangers Land Tim Erixon: What Does It Mean?


Player Reviews:

Spotlight On Mats Zuccarello >

Spotlight On Brian Boyle >

Spotlight On Matt Gilroy >

Spotlight On Ruslan Fedotenko >

Spotlight On Brandon Prust >

Spotlight On Bryan McCabe >

Spotlight On Alex Frolov >

Spotlight On Michael Del Zotto >

Spotlight On Martin Biron >

Spotlight On Brandon Dubinsky >

Spotlight On Marc Staal >

Spotlight On Steve Eminger >

Spotlight On Henrik Lundqvist >

Spotlight On Wojtek Wolski >

Spotlight On Sean Avery >

Spotlight On Dan Girardi >

Spotlight On Erik Christensen >

Spotlight On Ryan McDonagh >

Spotlight On Vinny Prospal >

Spotlight On Derek Stepan >

Spotlight On Marian Gaborik >


Possible First Round Pick:

Zack Phillips >

Sven Bartschi >

Mark Scheifele >

Mika Zibanejad > 

Mark McNeill >

Brandon Saad >

Joel Armia >

Nicklas Jensen >

Alexander Khokhlachev >

Tyler Biggs >

Matt Puempel >

Rickard Rakell >

Mario Lucia >

Tomas Jurco >

Dmitri Jaskin >

Phillip Danault >

Rocco Grimaldi >



Posted by Kevin Baumer | June 2, 2011 at 11:30 am

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New York Rangers VS Chicago Blackhawks
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