Dec 20, 2012, 9:50 AM EDT
HAWTHORNE, NY – When we took a look at the Team USA World Junior Championship defense the other day, it was easy to get caught up in their star power. The part of the team that might go under the radar is their offense up front, and part of that might be due to the stature of a pair of its biggest scorers.
Wingers Rocco Grimaldi (2011 second-round pick of the Panthers) and Johnny Gaudreau (2011 fourth-round pick of the Flames) don’t have an imposing presence on the ice, but their ability around the net is what gets them noticed.
Grimaldi, who plays at the University of North Dakota and listed at 5’6” 165 by USA Hockey, says his size is something he likes to turn into a problem for opponents quickly.
“I’m a lot lower to the ground so it’s a little harder to push me around. I just try to use my speed and do what I can against the bigger guys… I just try to outsmart them.”
Gaudreau has been lighting up college hockey this year with Boston College checks in at just 5’9” 150, but he says finding a nose for the net is the way to attack the defense.
“I like playing behind the net,” Gaudreau says. “When I’m playing down low the D has to make sure to block out the front of the net and make sure they know where the puck’s at. With their eyes off me, I run around down low try and look for an opening for a pass here or there.”
Gaudreau doesn’t just set up opponents, he can score goals too. Of his 44 points last year during his freshman season at BC, 21 were goals. Of his 23 points so far this year with the Eagles, he’s netted 11 more.
Team USA defenders like Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba talked about how matching up against those guys in practice was tough because of their speed and how “shifty” they are.
It’s that kind of action coach Phil Housley is hoping to see against the rest of the world. He’s seen solid results already in camp with big centerman and Rangers prospect J.T. Miller lining up with them.
“It seems they found a bit of chemistry,” Housley says. “They’re looking for each other and J.T. provides that strength down the middle. I just love the enthusiasm and they’re just trying to get better every day and that’s what we want.”
Getting better is just what USA Hockey is hoping for after last year’s disappointing seventh-place finish. If the rest of the world gets caught up in the American’s stardom on the blue line, guys like Grimaldi and Gaudreau will find ways to make them pay.
Jul 1, 2015, 5:34 PM EDT
Fresh off winning the Stanley Cup with Chicago.
Jul 1, 2015, 4:53 PM EDT
“We are here to build a team that is capable of winning a Stanley Cup. There are no shortcuts to go around doing that.”
Jul 1, 2015, 4:06 PM EDT
23-year-old had 18 points in 29 games last year.
Jul 1, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT
Moves on from Washington, the team that drafted him in 2004.
Jul 1, 2015, 3:38 PM EDT
Penguins GM considers his new winger in the same class as Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos.
Jul 1, 2015, 3:28 PM EDT
So long, Boston University.
Jul 1, 2015, 3:19 PM EDT
29-year-old forward will look to get his career back on track.
Jul 1, 2015, 3:04 PM EDT
Some smaller signings to pass your way…
Jul 1, 2015, 2:57 PM EDT
Still needs to sign a new deal, but Columbus will match any offer sheet.
Jul 1, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
All the signings from what promises to be a busy day.
Jul 1, 2015, 2:28 PM EDT
The torch has been passed.
Jul 1, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT
Bit of an odd twist.
Jul 1, 2015, 2:06 PM EDT
Both spent the last few seasons playing in Russia.
Jul 1, 2015, 2:01 PM EDT
One of the Senators’ main penalty-killers last season.
Jul 1, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT
One year, $1.25 million.
Jul 1, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT
Former Jets forward scores a big-money deal.
Jul 1, 2015, 1:29 PM EDT
27-year-old never really panned out in Boston.
Jul 1, 2015, 1:22 PM EDT
Having already signed former Canuck Brad Richardson.
Jul 1, 2015, 1:11 PM EDT
Nice raise after playing for $700,000 in Pittsburgh last season.
Jul 1, 2015, 1:08 PM EDT
End of an era in Toronto. A premier goal-scoring winger heads to Pittsburgh.
- Kessel trade shows Leafs are trying to ‘build this thing the right way’ 6
- Green signs with Red Wings — 3 years, $18 million 18
- ‘It’s hard to find players like Phil Kessel’ 30
- PHT’s 2015 free agent frenzy tracker 36
- Kassian traded to Habs for Prust; Hodgson signs with Preds 13
- Blockbuster: Kessel traded to the Penguins 125
- Oilers get Sekera for six years, closing in on Letestu 7
- Avalanche sign veteran d-man Beauchemin for three years 6
- Neely was ‘surprised’ that Hamilton didn’t want to sign with Bruins 15
- NHL, Coyotes deny report that team is moving to Vegas 32
- Blockbuster: Kessel traded to the Penguins (125)
- Trade: Flyers send Rinaldo to Bruins for 2017 third-rounder (105)
- Trade: Jackets land Saad, Anisimov and Dano headed to Chicago (93)
- Bypassing a buyout? Kings terminate Richards’ contract for ‘material breach’ (90)
- Trade: Flames land Dougie Hamilton for package of picks (75)