Nashville Predators: What Does The Future Hold For Grimaldi?

Nashville Predators right wing Rocco Grimaldi (23) has a shot on a breakaway blocked by Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen (32) during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators right wing Rocco Grimaldi (23) has a shot on a breakaway blocked by Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen (32) during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

Watching the Carolina Hurricanes play hockey in the second round of the NHL playoffs stings a bit. Now that the offseason has officially started, the Nashville Predators have some questions to answer if they want to build on last season and become a force in the Central Division.

A big question is who will be on the roster next season. With a surge of younger players, an expansion draft, and lackluster play from others, everything is up in the air roster-wise.

More from Predlines

As the games wound down in the regular season, one name was inexplicably deemed a healthy scratch quite often, much to the chagrin of fans everywhere.

Rocco Grimaldi is a fan-favorite and undoubtedly one of the fastest and grittiest forwards on the team. For reasons unknown, he spent a lot of time off the roster towards the end of the season.

A Puzzling Healthy Scratch

Grimaldi scored 13 points (10 goals, 3 assists) in 40 games played. He was scratched for 16 regular-season games and was not in the lineup for any first-round playoff games.

What Grimaldi gives up on the defensive side, he more than makes up for with his speed and scoring ability. He tied for fifth in goals with Luke Kunin and Viktor Arvidsson last season. Arvidsson played ten more games than Grimaldi and made $2.25M more.

At the end of March, Grimaldi scored a hat trick against the Detroit Red Wings, the first of his career. He went on to score a fourth goal that night as well.

In the next game, Grimaldi tallied another goal. In a mid-April win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, he scored two points, netting a goal and an assist. In the final game of the season against the Hurricanes, he netted a short-handed goal just three minutes into the 1st period.

This goal is indicative of the skating and scoring ability that Grimaldi possesses. With the Predators being a team that falls a little short in the goal-scoring category, keeping Grimaldi off the roster is a little strange.

The consensus seemed to be that Head Coach John Hynes opted for a bigger lineup to close out the season, only giving Grimaldi the nod for the last game of the season after the Predators had clinched the 4th playoff spot.

In April, NBC Sports ran a piece during a Predators game that featured Grimaldi and his path to the NHL. On a night when he was featured on national television, he was, once again, not in the lineup.

Once the playoffs started, it became apparent that Hynes decided to continue with a bigger lineup against a very physical Carolina team. While it remains to be seen if Grimaldi would have had much of an impact, if any, his speed and ability to score would have been a welcome sight.

Does Rocco Grimaldi Have A Future With The Nashville Predators

This is a tough question to answer so early in the offseason. Some things will have to be sorted out before Grimaldi’s status can be addressed.

Who the Seattle Kraken takes from Nashville in the expansion draft will impact the roster next season, as will any offseason moves that the Predators may make.

Another factor that will impact the roster is the performance of the younger players that moved on and off of the taxi squad. The “youth movement” players were among the driving forces that helped the Predators climb out of obscurity to take a playoff spot.

Physical players like Tanner Jeannot and Mathieu Olivier fit well into the defensive and aggressive style of play that Nashville began implementing last season. If Hynes can get more physicality and some scoring from a younger player who makes less money, it may not bode well for Grimaldi.

With the 4th line firmly entrenched, the 3rd line is the only likely home for Grimaldi next season. With players like Kunin, Erik Haula, and Nick Cousins spending a lot of time on that line, a slot for Grimaldi is drifting away.

With Grimaldi having one year left on his contract, I could see the Predators packaging him with some other players in an attempt to acquire an elite forward. A team that relies on speed would do well to take a look at Grimaldi as he has that in spades.

Nashville Predators: Deeper Issues Than Coaching Exist. light. Must Read

It is disheartening to talk about the possibility of Grimaldi not being a member of the Nashville Predators next season. He is one of the hardest-working players on the team and, at one time, was part of one of the best lines in the NHL during the 2019-20 season.

The Predators changed their identity last season, and teams began to take notice. Next season, they will continue to rebrand themselves as one of the toughest teams to play against in the NHL but to a higher degree.

Unfortunately, there may be some casualties along the way as Nashville strives to become a tougher team that can make deeper playoff runs. Grimaldi may not fit into the mold that Nashville is trying to create.