Who is this guy?
Nick D'Agostino is a 6'2" 197lbs Defenseman from Mississauga, Ontario who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 7th round of the 2008 NHL Draft.
What are they saying about him?
D'Agostino is described as a cerebral player, which is not an uncommon adjective to sue when describing players coming out of the ivy league. Despite possessing solid size for a defenseman, he does not player an overly physical game, instead relying on sound positioning and using his long reach to break up plays via the poke check. Offensively he is lauded as a puck moving defenseman with a strong and accurate shot. During his draft year he was considered a hidden gem as he was unranked but looked to have some nice potential. Long term he projects as a #4/5 two-way D.
"I went into college really wanting to work on the defensive game. I thought that came along. I’ve always been pretty decent offensively, good skater, good puck mover. Just being a pro here every single day, making your game very, very detail-oriented."
Where has he been?
D'Agostino started his career playing for the OJHL (Junior A) St. Michael's Buzzers. After getting drafted he improved in his 2nd year as the team's leading defenseman and helped Canada East earn a Bronze in the World Junior A U19 championship as their leading defenseman. That season he was named the OJHL Central Division's Top Defenseman.
After that he went off the college to play for the Cornell University Big Red. As a Freshman he already managed to lead the D in Goals and was #2 in Points, being named to the ECAC All-Rookie Team and helping bring home the ECAC Championship. He improved to #1 as a Sophomore and was named an ECAC 2nd Team All-Star. He became an Alternate Captain as a Junior and remained the #1 scoring D, and as a Senior was named a Captain and still led the D in Goals, but was once again #2 in Points. He remained in school after the season ended rather than joining WBS as part of the Black Aces squad.
When can we expect to see him?
This year will be D'Agostino's first real look at professional hockey, he got to attend a few Prospect Development Camps but this is his first Rookie Tournament and will be his first Training Camp with the team because in previous years he was headed back to school by now. At the moment he is likely battling for a #6/7 D spot in WBS and could very well find himself starting the season playing for the Wheeling Nailers.
Long term he could be a #4/5 NHL D, but it will take some time as we need to see how well he adjusts to the professional game. He is the hot commodity puck moving defenseman, high vision and hockey IQ, so he should be able to make it as a two-way D in the NHL. Unfortunately his chances of making it Pittsburgh might not be very good, as there are quite a few players ahead of him on the Depth Chart. He should have a bright future NHL career, it just might not be with the Penguins.
Why is he #18?
D'Agostino received 2 votes for 12th, 1 vote for 13th, 1 vote for 14th, 1 vote for 16th, 2 votes for 19th, 1 vote for 20th, and 1 vote for 23rd.
How can he climb the list?
The biggest thing is to prove that he can carry his game over into the professional level. Puck moving defenseman are always in high demand, so if he can continue to show he can play a two-way game he can slowly make a name for himself within the system. His offense, always his strong point, is probably solid enough at this point, but it would be good for him to continue working on his defensive game as well. He might also want to learn to use his size to his advantage a bit more often, he will always be a skill D rather than a physical one, but if he could throw his weight around just a bit more it would improve all aspects of his game. But in the end he is going to find it difficult to stack up against the blue chip D prospects, so moving up the list will be hard work indeed.