The 2011 draft is a little more than a month away, and we all know that Gordie Clark, Glen Sather, and the collection of Rangers scouts are holding many meetings to discuss potential players on their draft boards. The Rangers have the 15th overall pick in this year’s draft, and while most of the prospects on people’s lists will be gone (Nugent-Hopkins, Larsson, Courturier, etc), there are a good amount of prospects that would help the Rangers in the long run. Today, we look at the player currently ranked at #15 in the ISS Top 30 of the USA U-18 Team, and committed to North Dakota next year.
The 5’6″, 163 lb center playing in the USHL for the U-18 team might be the smallest player in the draft. But don’t let that fool you, as this kid can absolutely play. Bruins Draft Watch is in love with this kid, and for good reason. Do you remember those old Roadrunner cartoons where Wile E. Coyote put on rocket skates? That’s what Grimaldi is like on the ice. This kid can absolutely fly, and unlike the Coyote on rocket skates, the kid can control it all, and just flies on the ice.
The amazing part here is that his hands keep up with his legs. He can do almost anything, as it shows with his 12 goals and 13 assists in just 23 games this year with the US NTDP. The kid not only has the wheels, the skills, and the shot to succeed, but he has the attitude, vision, and passion to go along with it. This kid makes scouts gush, and it’s truly mind boggling that he isn’t ranked higher than 15th by the ISS.
What holds him back, both on NHL selection boards and with the scouts, is the one thing you notice right away: his size. At 5’6″ and 163 lbs, the kid is very, very tiny. Even Martin St. Louis is bigger than Grimaldi (well, he’s listed as bigger). It’s not impossible for short people to succeed in the NHL, but they definitely need to work harder and have the desire to succeed. Grimaldi has that desire by the boatload. It is going to be interesting to see how he plays in the WCHA with North Dakota, and with kids almost twice his size.
If a team wants to take a risk on the diminutive Grimaldi, it is likely that they will be rewarded handsomely. The Brian Gionta comparisons are popular and well deserved for this 18 year old. In a league where skill, speed, and evasiveness are possibly more important than size, Grimaldi is going to be a popular sleeper pick at the middle of the first round. Unfortunately, his size means he is also a popular pick to slide at the draft. I personally don’t think he will slide much, but this kid is going to be an exciting player one day, assuming he can continue to excel as he goes through the NCAAs.