The Florida Panthers have announced they have signed now former North Dakota forward Rocco Grimaldi to an entry level contract.
Grimaldi, 21, finished his junior year with a trip to the Frozen Four before losing to the Minnesota Golden Gophers and fellow Panthers prospect – Kyle Rau.
In three seasons with the Fighting Sioux, Grimaldi played in 86-games and scored 77-points (31 G, 46 A) in that span. He is also another graduate of the USA Hockey National Development Program and was a part of the 2013 USA team that won gold in the World Junior Hockey Championships – scoring the game winning goal in the championship game against Sweden.
Offense is Grimaldi’s game, and talent wise he may have been one of the best at the college level. He has elite level acceleration and has a great shot with the ability to pass the puck.
The end-all-be-all for him however will be his size, as at 5’6 he will be one of the shortest players in the NHL once he reaches that level.
In fact, only Nathan Gerbe will be shorter than him among active NHLers. While the sport tends to favor taller players, that doesn’t mean that shorter players can’t find success. Theo Fleury played at the same height as Grimaldi is, and Martin St. Louis built a Hall of Fame career standing only at 5’8.
Grimaldi will more than certainly start the year with the San Antonio Rampage, but as was the case with Vincent Trocheck this past season – if Rocco plays strong and the opportunity presents itself he may find himself in playing with the Panthers.
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