GRAND FORKS, N.D. – University of North Dakota sophomore forward Rocco Grimaldi has signed an entry level contract with the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers and will forgo his final two years of collegiate eligibility.
The Panthers selected Grimaldi in the second round (33d overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Grimaldi led North Dakota in points (39) and goals (17) in 42 games in 2013-14, establishing career highs in both categories. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2014 NCAA Midwest Regional in Cincinnati after recording his first collegiate hat trick in UND’s semifinal win over Wisconsin. His performance helped lead UND to its 20th appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four.
The 5-foot-6, 172-pound Grimaldi also earned Academic All-NCHC honors in 2013-14 and won the team’s Virg Foss 3-Star Award for accumulating the most 3-star voting points during the regular season.
In 2012-13, Grimaldi was named to the All-WCHA Rookie Team and was voted UND’s Rookie of the Year after leading all WCHA rookies in points (36) and assists (23), while also topping the nation’s rookies with 147 shots on goal.
That same season, Grimaldi helped lead the United States to a gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Russia. He was named U.S. Player of the Game in the gold medal win over Sweden after scoring both the game-tying and game-winning goals.
Grimaldi’s initial freshman season at UND in 2011-12 was cut short after just four games due to a season-ending knee injury. He finished his collegiate career with 31 goals and 46 assists and a plus-22 rating in 86 games.
A native of Rossmoor, Calif., Grimaldi is UND’s second player to sign an NHL contract since the end of the 2013-14 season, joining senior defenseman Dillon Simpson, who signed with the Edmonton Oilers.