Predators Season Grades: Rocco Grimaldi Goes to New Level

Rocco Grimaldi #23 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
Rocco Grimaldi #23 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Nashville Predators are a group of talented and hardworking individuals. Rocco Grimaldi may be one of the hardest workers of them all.

While the 2019-20 season is paused, we are going to hand out the season grades for the entire Nashville Predators roster.

Rocco Grimaldi may be one of the smaller players in the NHL, but this hard-working forward goes into the trenches and battles with players much larger than himself. What he may lack in stature, he more than makes up for with his speed, tenacity and work ethic.

A Career Season

This has been a banner year for Grimaldi. His performance this season has been a true indicator of his potential in the NHL.

For the most part, this year has seen Grimaldi as a third or fourth-line winger. He’s spent a lot of his shifts with linemates Craig Smith and Nick Bonino. He has even spent some time on the first and second lines.

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While averaging around 12 minutes of Time On Ice, Grimaldi has managed to almost double all of his career statistics. His career goal total was ten. He already has ten goals this season, and hopefully, he’ll get a chance to add to that either in a resumed regular season or in the playoffs.

Leading up to this season Grimaldi had only 13 career assists. He currently sits at 21 assists in the 2019-20 season. His point total has more than doubled as well.

All of this hard work paid off for Grimaldi at the trade deadline. Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile awarded Grimaldi a two-year contract worth $4.0M.

Talk about a breakout year for a player who earns every inch of the ice and leaves it all out there. It’s awesome to see him finally get rewarded for all of his hard work.

Bang for your buck

Let’s take a deeper look at Grimaldi’s ten goals. Out of the 21 players on the team, he currently sits at tenth on the team in goals scored.

Kyle Turris and Colton Sissons sit right behind Grimaldi with nine goals apiece. Turris and Sissons earn $6.0M and $2.86M respectively.

Matt Duchene sits one spot above Grimaldi with 13 goals, which is surprising to see for many reasons. Duchene earns $8.0M a year.

What’s amazing about these statistics is that up until the trade deadline Grimaldi earned just a minor $1.0M a year. That equals out to $100,000 per goal while Duchene, for instance, earned over $615,000 per goal.

Grimaldi is a great value to the Nashville Predators and he comes at a great price. For the most part, the higher-profile players on the team have had an off-year this season. Grimaldi has taken this opportunity to shine and show the team and fans alike what he is capable of.

A Banner Year

Looking back on this shortened season, it is abundantly clear why Grimaldi was offered a new contract. There were several games this season where the line shared with Nick Bonino and Craig Smith carried the team.

Grimaldi managed to score at least one goal in every month of the season except for March. He was on fire in December, tallying four goals, three of which happened in three consecutive games.

The scoring continued into the new year as January saw him net three more goals.

In addition to his career-high goal total, Grimaldi piled up assists as well. He registered assists in every month of the season, October being his highest with six.

Grimaldi’s highlight of the season happened in February 22nd shootout win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The shootout lasted for eight rounds and when Grimaldi’s number was called to win the game.

He delivered in heroic fashion, and you can see it here courtesy of Sportsnet:

. C. Nashville Predators. ROCCO GRIMALDI. B +

Grimaldi does a lot of things that don’t exactly show up on the stat sheet. He is a fast skater who can get to the puck quickly. He is great on the forecheck and he isn’t afraid to get into the fray with bigger players.

With a lot of hard work in the offseason and some instruction from Coach John Hynes, Grimaldi could move up to the second line and maybe spend more time on the first line next season.

That may be a bold prediction, but I really feel that Grimaldi has the tools and the tenacity to pull it off. It would be a big step, but one he’s earning.

Grimaldi is a fan favorite and it’s easy to see why. Whether you are watching him play or give an interview, his excitement and passion for the game shines through.

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If you’re looking for reasons why the Predatos found themselves on the playoff bubble all season long, look past Grimaldi. He’s ascending into the peak of his career and took a big step in his career this past season.