The Nashville Predators offence was mostly nonexistent during their first-round exit to the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their first-line stars didn’t get going and the Predators went home. Nashville’s unlikely playoff scoring leader was Rocco Grimaldi.
The former University of North Dakota product stands at only 5-foot-6-inches tall, but he was large in the Predators’ push to reach the second round for the third straight season. Grimaldi split time between the big club and the AHL Milwaukee Admirals, but ended up being steady.
His future was uncertain at the beginning of the season, but he should figure into Nashville’s future plans.
Rocco Grimaldi Should Figure Into Future
The Rossmoor, Calif. native had bounced between the NHL and AHL with the Florida Panthers, Colorado Avalanche and Predators the last five seasons. Grimaldi was drafted in the second round, 33rd overall of the 2011 NHL Draft, but he never could get more than a handful of games with Florida and Colorado. His season-high was 20 with the Panthers in 2015-16.
He started the season in Milwaukee but managed to find his way to Nashville after injuries and solid play. Grimaldi ended up on the team’s top line at the end of the playoffs to cap a meteoric rise.
The 26-year-old reached a career-highs in games played with 53, goals with five and eight assists. Those numbers may not be impressive, but they were huge for Grimaldi.
Full of Energy
Grimaldi may lack size, but he’s got other desirable traits. He’s quick, elusive, tenacious and doesn’t make many mistakes. He’s been very fundamentally sound and fights for pucks.
Nashville gave him a chance to be a regular in the lineup and he came through. He became a fan favourite with the Bridgestone Arena faithful. His hard work and relentless drive made him a key part to Peter Laviolette’s lineup.
Players like Ryan Johansen, P.K. Subban, Filip Forsberg and others may grab the headlines, but Grimaldi was team’s unlikely point-leader for the Predators. Those players all command the big dollars for Nashville, but Grimaldi made the league minimum of $650,000.
He also has solid possession numbers with a 57.6-percent Corsi for and a 6.8 relative Corsi. Those are strong numbers for a bottom-six forward. With Grimaldi on the ice, the Preds were able to outplay the depth of the other team and that is all you can ask for from your depth players.
What It Means For the Future
Grimaldi is a restricted free agent in the upcoming off-season. He’s confident that he’s earned a long-term place on the club. General manager David Poile told him to look for a place in town, which means he’ll likely get a decent contract.
“He was one of our best, if not our best, forwards in the playoffs,” Poile said to The Tennessean during the team’s exit interviews. “We have every intention to re-sign him.”
Grimaldi may not have started the year on the Predators’ radar, but he should figure into their future plans.
NASHVILLE, TN – OCTOBER 27: Rocco Grimaldi #23 of the Nashville Predators plays against the Edmonton Oilers during the first period at Bridgestone Arena on October 27, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)