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Grimaldi to make pro decision before end of school year

FNS Photo by David Samson University of North Dakota forward Rocco Grimaldi takes practices for the NCAA Frozen Four on April 9 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota will soon know whether its leading scorer is coming back for next season.

Sophomore forward Rocco Grimaldi says he wants to decide before the end of the school year whether he will return for his junior year or if he will sign with the Florida Panthers.

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UND’s spring session ends in two-and-a-half weeks.

Grimaldi led UND in both goals (17) and points (39) this season, scoring five more goals than anyone else on the team and registering nine more points than anyone. He was named the MVP of the Midwest Regional.

If he returns, it would give UND’s skill level a big boost for next season. But Florida is likely trying to get him signed, because if he returns for another year, he could have the option of becoming a free agent in the future.

UND has already received pledges to return from sophomore defenseman Jordan Schmaltz, sophomore goaltender Zane Gothberg and junior forward Michael Parks.

The last time UND had an offseason where nobody turned pro early was 2010. Since 1999, there have only been two offseasons where no UND player turned pro early — 2009 and 2010.

Grimaldi has 77 points in 86 career games at UND. He was selected in the second round by the Panthers during the 2011 NHL Draft in St. Paul.

The native of suburban Los Angeles has previously attended Florida Panthers development camps in the summer.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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