The Toronto Maple Leafs have selected forward Nicholas (Nick) Abruzzese with the 124th overall pick of the 2019 NHL Draft.
Abruzzese is listed at 5’9” and 163 lbs, and is a left-shooting forward in the NCAA, committed to Harvard for the coming season. He was named USHL forward of the week twice last season. His team made it all the way to the playoff final of their league, the Clark Cup, but lost to the Sioux Falls Stampede in straight games.
Here’s some draft profile quotes about him, first, from Second City Hockey:
Abruzzese has also benefitted from the Steel’s partnership with Darryl Belfry and Adam Nicholas, founder of Stride Envy Hockey. Belfry and Nicholas created individual development plans and on-ice skills sessions for players. Those skills sessions range from skater’s stride and weight transfer to how to manipulate and create space against the opposition and more. For a smaller player like Abruzzese at 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds being able to find and create space plays a vital role in his success.
First-year Steel head coach Greg Moore raves about the soft-spoken Abruzzese’s attention to detail and desire to attack his development.
“His brain is functioning on a completely different level than the majority of the kids,” Moore said of the Harvard commit. “It’s fun as a coach to watch that process and help him through that process and even for me to learn for myself. I didn’t think that way when I was his age (19).
Elite Prospects’ Rinkside blog had this to say:
For Abruzzese, he really started to make a jump when he travelled to play for the North Jersey Avalanche.
“There’s a lot to balance when you play travel hockey. You miss a lot of school but doing all that travelling helps you work on time management,” Abruzzese opined. “I owe a lot to the guys there, the coaches there. I think they helped me become a better player and help shape me to become the player I am today.”
The biggest issue in regard to Abruzzese is his age. He’s soon to be 20 and some aren’t giving him the credit he deserves even though he led his team in scoring.
“I think with scouts there’s definitely that because it’s my third year going through the draft process and not getting a lot of exposure the first two years. I think I’m just a late bloomer and I am patient with the process just trying to focus on getting better every day and not focusing on whatever players are in front of me and just trying to be the best player I can be.”
He also led the USHL in scoring as well with 29 goals and 80 points in 62 games. He had seven goals and seven assists in 11 playoff games as well. Some teams like older players because there’s a chance they can get to the NHL a bit quicker because they’re a bit more physically mature. Some worry that a player has reached his zenith by this age and then upside won’t be as high as a player a few year’s younger.
A friendly face ties it up late in the 3rd period for the Steel. Robert Mastrosimone, off a pretty feed from Nick Abruzzese, puts home the one-timer.— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) January 21, 2019
Check out Jake Sanderson on the play. He plays it pretty well and just misses getting a stick on Abruzzese's pass. #NTDP. pic.twitter.com/NwP3wUQ7PE
Nick Abruzzese goes to work and finds Todd Goehring pic.twitter.com/rMHBLdN99Q— USHL (@USHL) March 25, 2018
He was a good buddy on the Steel with Robert Mastrosimone who was selected by the Red Wings with the 54th selection in the second round.