Florida Panthers Facebook Florida Panthers Twitter Florida Panthers Google+ Florida Panthers Pintrest Florida Panthers Instagram Florida Panthers
2011 NHL Draft

Grimaldi refuses to allow size to be an issue

Saturday, 06.25.2011 / 11:43 AM ET / 2011 NHL Draft
Share with your Friends

Grimaldi refuses to allow size to be an issue
Rocco Grimaldi certainly isn\'t the biggest prospect in the 2011 Entry Draft, but he\'s not letting his size get in the way of his NHL dreams
Why do you think the shortest player at the NHL Scouting Combine attracted so much attention earlier this month?
Well, unless you know 5-foot-6, 163-pound Rocco Grimaldi of the U.S. National Team Development Program on a personal level, words couldn't possibly paint the complete picture.
"When we asked him if he was 5-foot-7, he said, 'No, I'm only 5-foot-6' and we all laughed because he's not afraid of his size," one veteran Eastern Conference amateur scout, who interviewed Grimaldi at the Combine, told NHL.com. "He's very honest and focused, and at that size, if you're not focused you won't be able to play this game."
Make no mistake, Grimaldi can play the game and he does so with a passion and determination any NHL general manager would crave -- he is No. 32 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2011 Entry Draft. He also happens to be a devout Christian, willing to share his strong religious beliefs with anyone willing to listen.
"My faith in Jesus Christ is the most important thing in my life and that is what runs my life, so everything evolves itself around that," Grimaldi told NHL.com.
On the ice, Grimaldi certainly gave scouts and GMs something to remember him by prior to the Draft by striking for a team-leading 34 goals, 62 points, 13 power-play goals, and 5 game-winning goals in 50 games for the USNTDP this past season.

"His numbers speak for themselves," USNTDP Under-18 team captain Tyler Biggs told NHL.com. "He's a guy that's definitely going to bring 110 percent every night. You never have to worry about him taking shifts off, and when you have those kinds of players you never have to worry about, who can also put up the numbers Rocco does, that's a pretty big package."

The charismatic Grimaldi, one of seven members from the USNTDP invited to the USA Hockey National Junior evaluation camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., in August, one day would like to be considered a role model for star athletes.
"It's great to always be the underdog and have people doubt you," Grimaldi said. "I feel I could be a role model for kids my size -- not even in hockey, but in general. I could be a really good example for them on how I go about my business, not caring about what people say and how I live my life. I'm always thinking about the next generation under me and trying to help them out as well."
He helped the present generation of players at the last two World Under-18 Championships. Last year in Belarus, he tied for the team lead with 10 points in seven games to help the U.S. win a gold medal. At this year's tournament, in April in Germany, he had 2 goals, 8 points and a plus-5 rating in another gold-medal winning effort.

"The game has changed since the lockout; it's more of a high-end skilled game and smaller guys are making names for themselves in the League with (Martin) St. Louis and Nathan Gerbe," Grimaldi said. "That's great to see those guys having an impact. It's really good for me, being a small guy, and seeing how others are able to make an impact right away."
Born in Anaheim, Calif., Grimaldi and his family moved to Auburn Hills, Mich., when he was 12 years old, and then he left them for Ann Arbor to play for the USNTDP.
He never worried about not having an impact despite his stature as he had 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.
"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," Grimaldi said. "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."
According to NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee, Grimaldi one day might be compared to Montreal Canadiens captain and fellow American Brian Gionta.
"I have a lot of respect for Rocco; he's an unbelievable player with a lot of skill and creativity," fellow USNTDP forward Jonathan Miller said. "Playing on a line with him at the Under-18 World Championship made it easier for me and him. With the two of us, it was hard for the other team to stop. All I have to do is allow him to break into the puck and do his thing."

"He's not very big, but in terms of his ability to make things happen, especially offensively, he's unbelievably dynamic," USNTDP U-18 coach Ron Rolston said. "He skates well and has a great first step. In terms of his skills, he's outstanding. He's someone on our team we looked to create offense every game and, without question, he was one of our most dynamic forwards."
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer




1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48


J. Huberdeau 72 13 34 8 47
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 74 7 33 -1 40
J. Jagr 70 13 26 -3 39
B. Boyes 73 12 23 10 35
A. Ekblad 74 11 24 11 35
J. Hayes 65 18 13 -5 31
A. Barkov 64 14 17 -2 31
B. Campbell 75 3 21 2 24
B. Pirri 42 20 2 5 22
R. Luongo 26 17 12 .921 2.33
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
FloridaPanthers.com is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and floridapanthers.com are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.