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Insider

Why Rocco Grimaldi could be a steal

12/8/2010
Rocco Grimaldi is a short player (5-6), who has a chance to make an impact in the NHL. AP Photo/Sergei Grits

At some point, the lack of height is a real detriment for hockey players. At around 5-foot-10, prospects seem to look much less attractive than their taller counterparts. And anyone shorter than that is an outlier -- something special.

Draft Picks, By Height

At 5-6, Rocco Grimaldi is the outlier of outliers. And what makes him intriguing is that he will probably be chosen in next June's NHL Draft. That, in itself, is a rare feat. There have been just over 5,300 players drafted since 1990 -- only four of them have been 5-6 and just two -- Brian Wiseman (1991, No. 257 New York Rangers) and Nathan Gerbe (2005, No. 142, Buffalo Sabres) -- have played in a single NHL game.

So it's tough to say the odds are stacked against him ... because there aren't enough numbers to even calculate the odds.

That said, short players simply don't get much of a look in the draft. Only 0.6 percent of players drafted have been 5-8 or shorter; 7.8 percent have been 5-10 or shorter, which is the height of the average North American. So Grimaldi falls at the very edge of the bell curve.

There have been just over 5,300 players drafted in the last 20 years. When they are listed by height, they create a near-perfect bell curve, peaking at 6-foot-1.

There are very few 5-6 guys, so we expanded our sample size and looked at guys who are 5-9 or shorter -- in other words, smaller than the average North American.

We looked at all players shorter than 5-10 drafted in the last 20 years. They score more, but they contribute in the NHL as often as other players.

The 'Short' Guys