3. Rocco Grimaldi, University of North Dakota
|Sept. 29||Ryan Callahan|
Born: February 8, 1993
Hometown: Rossmoor, Calif.
Last season: Scored 73 points (39 goals, 34 assists) in 58 games for the U.S. National U18 Team.
Already dubbed WCHA Preseason Rookie of the Year in both the media and coaches polls, expectations will be sky high for Rocco Grimaldi as he enters his freshman year at the University of North Dakota.
A lot has been written about the speedy forward’s stature – or lack thereof at 5-foot-6, 165 pounds – but all that will be put to the test in the big, physical and fast WCHA.
He was selected in the second round (33rd overall) by Florida in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The Panthers prospect will have plenty of talent to work with in a college hockey program widely regarded for both its success and development of NHL players.
After lighting it up with the U.S. National U17 and U18 teams the past two seasons, he will be relied on to create opportunities and score goals. North Dakota lost nearly 300 points of offensive production from last year’s roster.
Although recently suffering an undisclosed lower-body injury, that didn’t stop us from putting him at No. 3 on our countdown. We have a feeling it won’t be the last time Grimaldi dons the Red, White and Blue, either.
Check out this Grimaldi feature from January 2011 in USA Hockey Magazine.