Beginning the 2018-19 season, Rocco Grimaldi started the year in the AHL but quickly received his call up and became one of the fan favorites for the Nashville Predators in no time.
The speedy winger really made his presence known in the Nashville Predators organization during the playoffs against the Dallas Stars. Currently, Grimaldi is sitting on the arbitration list awaiting his hearing on August 4th. We examine his year and predict what it will take to keep him in Nashville.
The Predators saw no harm in testing out Grimaldi, who is a low-risk, high potential player, as they gladly signed him to a one year, 650k RFA contract last year. He played in the AHL for Milwaukee scoring 4 goals and 11 points in just 10 games.
Due to injuries to some key players at the end of November, Grimaldi got the go-ahead to play in Nashville and remained there the remainder of the season.
He would go on to score 5 goals and 13 points in total. In the playoffs, he scored his first NHL Playoffs goal and would score a total of 3.
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Playing mainly on the 3rd and 4th lines, Grimaldi used his speed to drain opposing defenses and was efficient as an energy player for the team and fans to rally behind.
Grimaldi’s biggest weakness is his height as he stands at 5’6”, making him the leagues shortest player. Though advantageous while in the offensive zone, most defenders will battle him physically to take away the puck.
The Predators are putting together a team that finally sees the top six skaters with great offensive potential and the bottom 6 that has well-rounded depth.
There are some spots that still need to be filled by guys who will create great chemistry and round out the rest of the roster.
This is where we could see Grimaldi getting his offer to play in the NHL from the start of the season. Placing Grimaldi on the 4th line with a heavy-hitting Austin Watson and a good center in Bonino or Turris could make the Nashville Predators a scary team top to bottom.
We have some important factors the Predators will need to consider when filling out their roster. In the AHL, players such as Anthony Richard and Eeli Tolvanen are a year or two away from potentially being NHL ready.
The signing of Daniel Carr, who was the AHL’s point leader last year, could also bring more factors into what the team will look like and who gets sent to Milwaukee at the beginning of the year.
When it comes to finding a comparable player and contract from last year, Greg McKegg from the Carolina Hurricanes lines up very well statistically with Grimaldi.
Grimaldi does have a slight edge in all stats scoring 2 more total points, played in 12 more games and scored more total goals compared to McKegg. He was given a one year, 715k contract this upcoming year with the New York Rangers.
Based on factors such as other players contracts, players in the farm system and Colton Sisson’s hearing, the Predators should be able to wrap up Grimaldi hopefully without issue. A one-year deal around 850k seems to be the most ideal contract as it gives Nashville multiple organizational options to play with if needed.
A one-year deal would keep Grimaldi on the team allowing him to focus as a 4th line specialist. If Grimaldi stays in the NHL, it will give multiple players in the AHL time to keep developing their skill sets. If things don’t work out for reasons beyond control, Grimaldi can also be used as a respectable trade piece.
Overall, Grimaldi seems to have a home in Nashville as he became an important piece for the team late into the season and into the playoffs last year.
The Nashville Predators fan base took in the Grimaldi family as quickly as he stole everyone’s hearts on and off the ice. Whether he plays in the AHL or gets a well-deserved opening day start in Nashville, the fans and organization would love to have Rocco return to help the Predators make a run in the Stanley Cup playoffs again next year.