Rossmoor native Rocco Grimaldi was drafted today early in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft.
The Florida Panthers chose Grimaldi 33rd overall. In announcing the pick, NHL Newtork's NHL On The Fly host Brian Duffy described Grimaldi as an “inspiring smaller player but with the heart of a champion.”
At 5-foot-6, Grimaldi becomes the shortest hockey player to ever be drafted so high. His small stature gave some scouts pause, and Grimaldi will have to prove it won’t stop him from becoming a factor in the NHL. That’s something he is ready to do, he has said.
Grimaldi began playing ice hockey with LA Selects, a local hockey club that has helped to nurture Southern California players. Grimaldi is not the only Southern California hockey player to be drafted in today’s second round. Matt Nieto of Long Beach was picked 47th overall by the San Jose Sharks.
Last year, the Anaheim Ducks drafted Long Beach’s Emerson Etem. Also last year, the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted beau Bennett, whose father is an LA Selects coach. Seal Beach's Mitch Wahl went in the second round of the 2008 draft to the Calgary Flames.