Player: Ryan Fitzgerald
Drafted By: Boston Bruins (120th overall)
Final Central Scouting Ranking: No. 56 North American skater
Height/Weight: 5'10'', 170 lbs
DOB: October 19, 1994 (18 years old)
Most Recent Affiliation: EJHL, Valley Jr. Warriors
North Reading, Mass. native Ryan Fitzgerald played last year in the EJHL with the Valley Jr. Warriors. Fitzgerald averaged more than a point per game, scoring 14 goals and 30 points in 26 games.
His father, Tom Fitzgerald, played in more than 1,000 NHL games between 1989 and 2006.
Full Scouting Report
Fitzgerald has great hockey intelligence and vision, but his lack of size concerns some scouts. Fitzgerald is 5'10" and weighs only 170 pounds. While smaller players have been successful in the NHL in recent years, scouts always question whether smaller players can take the pounding of an 82-game season playing against bigger players.
Grant Sonier of ESPN (Insider subscription required) admires Fitzgerald's skills.
Fitzgerald continues to show he is a player on the rise with signs of elite hockey sense. He is not blessed with size, but really competed in his one-on-one battles, often winning and making things happen. He is certainly no longer an unknown player around NHL circles, and he's not showing many poor traits in front of a high number of NHL team scouts present in the stands. One of his more noticeable assets is his shot.
Aaron Vickers of Future Considerations added:
Fitzgerald possesses some of the best hockey sense in the entire 2013 NHL Draft Class, which allows him to succeed against older and bigger competition. A very responsible and sound defensive player, he owns very good playmaking ability as well, making him a viable two-way player. MVP of the All-American Prospects Game.
While his lack of size may cause him to wait a bit longer to hear his name called on draft day, Fitzgerald should have a bright hockey future.
NHL Player Comparison
Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers. Like Stepan, Fitzgerald works hard, has good hockey sense and can be a productive player in a top-six role. He is also responsible in his own zone and is good on draws despite his lack of size.
Fitzgerald's lack of height will be a factor, but he needs to put on a little bulk before going up against bigger, stronger NHL players. Fitzgerald will play at Boston College this fall, so he should have at least two years of NCAA hockey to further hone his skills. Expect him to reach the NHL on a full-time basis by the 2015-16 season after playing at least two years of college hockey. He may need one year in the AHL after that to adjust to the pro game.
There is room for small players in the NHL, especially players who understand the game and anticipate well. If Fitzgerald develops to his full potential, he should be a solid second-line forward who will excel on the power play and put up 50-60 points per season. Even if his offensive skills don't fully develop, Fitzgerald grew up around the NHL and knows what it takes to thrive in the best league in the world. He could be a useful bottom-six forward because of his work ethic and intelligence.