Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NHL Entry Draft Recap--Part 2

Our draft recap continues with two players chosen by Original Six teams: 2009 recruit Max Nicastro, chosen in the 3rd round--#91 overall—by Stanley Cup Champion Detroit, and goalie Grant Rollheiser, chosen by Toronto in the 6th round.

Max Nicastro offers a profile of the blueliner who will return to the Chicago Steel for a second USHL season, and this projection:

Don't expect to see Nicastro in Detroit overnight — it's going to be a long wait. The Red Wings hope he'll be a top-four NHL defenseman in about seven years, so they'll let him develop at his own pace at Boston University. Nicastro has good upside if he can put it all together.

A second post reported:
Nicastro is a right-shooting defenseman who can best be described as a jack of all trades, master of none. And that's not such a bad thing -- you can carve a seasoned NHL veteran out of a guy like that.

As Detroit Red Wings veteran amateur scout Mark Leach put it, "I don't think he has one unbelievable asset, but he's good at everything." ..."He's a No. 4 or 5 type of guy," Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said. "He won't be a big offensive guy, but he moves the puck smart and safe, he can play the power play but he's not a big point producer. He's got good size and he competes hard defensively. He's a well rounded defenseman."

Nicastro spent his primary development years playing hockey in the Los Angeles area, which is not exactly a hockey hotbed.

Understandably, the 18-year-old got off to a tentative start in his USHL rookie campaign. But as the season progressed, the Red Wings watched him get more and more comfortable, and he finished the year a plus-7.

"He plays a willing physical game and isn't afraid to step up on guys," said Red Wings amateur scout David Kolb, who focuses on the USHL. "His defensive game should only improve as he gains strength and grows into his body. He has a pretty good frame to work with and has room to get bigger." reports that Nicastro was thrilled to become a Wing as his favourite player happens to be Nicklas Lidstrom:

The Wings took Nicastro, a self-described “finesse defenseman” who grew up playing roller hockey in California, in the third round. Nicastro said he patterns his game after Nicklas Lidstrom and wanted to have dinner with Scotty Bowman.

“I talked to them once on the phone last week. I thought it was a quick, little talk,” Nicastro said. “I had no clue it was going to be the Wings, so I’m pretty excited. Words can’t explain it. It’s quite an honor.”Nicastro, a native of Thousand Oaks, Calif., didn’t play ice hockey until age 12.

“I think that’s where I got most of my finesse moves and skill from,” Nicastro said of roller hockey. “When I started playing ice, that’s when my defense started to kick in.”Nicastro will play another year with the Chicago Steel of the U.S. Hockey League, but has committed to Boston University.

The MLive Blog snapshot of Nicastro included an assessment from NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee:

"Max needs some time to develop, but he has an excellent shot from the point and s a good skater. He is a physical player and moves the puck well but could be a little stronger and more active in front of his own net."

And,’s stanley_cup's blog offered this draft-day anecdote:

Max Nicastro, drafted by Detroit in the third round, hails from Thousand Oaks, California, and before the weekend had arrived, went on record saying that in a dream situation one of the people he’d love to have dinner with was Bowman. Nicastro got his wish. “Hey, Nicastro,” shouted one of the group. “You wanna get a picture with Scotty?” He delayed a moment, then replied, “No, I think Scotty wants to get his picture taken with me!” An awkward silence was followed by bellowing laughter from all. “Good one, Max!”

Grant Rollheiser

Grant Rollheiser wasn’t ranked by Central Scouting or any of the other ranking services, but his selection by Toronto in the 6th round, #158 overall, wasn’t a complete surprise as the Leafs had been in contact with the incoming Terrier goaltending several times. The Trail-Crossland News interviewed Rollheiser, who has been in Boston, taking summer semester courses, following his selection.

Shawn Mullin’s Smoke Eater Blog reveled in the news. Just prior to the draft, Mullin posted links to a series of audio clips with Trail’s goalie coach, Pasco Valana, who discusses Rollheiser’s strengths. ( 1,2,3) Mountain Radio in British Columbia interviewed Rollheiser who reacted to his selection and noted he'll be attending Leafs development camp this summer.

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