Exclusive: Eric Ciccolini had a feeling the Rangers would draft him after his interview and his love for Eric Lindros


September 13, 2020


Eric Ciccolini (NYR/Getty Images)

When Ranger followers look again at the 2019 draft the names individuals point out are Kaapo Kakko, Matthew Robertson, Karl Henriksson and Zac Jones. Kakko performed in the NHL for the Blueshirts, Robertson had a sturdy season beginning with being supplied an entry degree contract earlier than being despatched again to juniors, and Henriksson and Jones had sturdy outings in the World Juniors in December.

There was a lot to love about the 2019 draft. One Rangers draftee who was a part of that class, has flown underneath the radar a bit. seventh spherical choose, Eric Ciccolini is a proper wing that could possibly be heard from sooner or later.

I reached out to Eric and mentioned his expertise at the draft, his freshman yr in school with the Michigan Wolverines and his shoulder harm.

Eric Ciccolini; born and raised in Ontario

Eric Ciccolinis’ story begins like every other Canadian, rising up with hockey throughout him, and naturally beginning to play at a younger age. “I’m from Vaughn, Ontario, about 30 minutes from Toronto. I grew up there and started playing hockey at age 4. Until I moved to Michigan last year, I played all my hockey in Ontario”, Ciccolini provides. Playing in his hometown Vaughn for the Kings, Ciccolini labored his method up.

His first yr in the OJHL was a good expertise for the younger winger. He was ultimately traded to a larger staff, the Toronto Junior Canadiens. It was a transfer that noticed Ciccolini go from the lowest ranked staff to the 1st ranked staff, and in 2018-19 he had his breakout yr. With the Junior Canadiens, Ciccolini recorded 62 factors in 48 video games, ending ninth in factors and 10th in objectives.

Draft and becoming a member of the Rangers group

Last summer season, Eric’s household traveled to Vancouver. “It was a great experience I had a feeling I was going to be drafted but had to wait so long. Even if I didn’t get drafted, I was going to Michigan to play college hockey. Being drafted was a bonus”, Ciccolini explains.

It offers us some perception into his expectations main as much as the draft. Ciccolini wasn’t invited to the Combine however in Vancouver he did converse to 15 groups. Friday, the day of spherical 1, Ciccolini sat down with the New York Rangers, and he had a feeling he wasn’t going residence undrafted: “I spoke to them on Friday and obtained a sense they had been interested by drafting me“, he says.

In the seventh spherical, he lastly heard his identify being known as and he walked down, met the entrance workplace and placed on his draft jersey. When requested what he did with the jersey, Ciccolini smiles: “When I came home for Christmas, my dad had framed it with the ticket and they have it on the wall at their house”.

After the Draft

After the draft, Ciccolini stated goodbye to his mother and father and boarded a airplane for New York. He joined the different prospects in Westchester to attend the prospect improvement camp. It was one other one in a string of nice experiences for the Ontario-native. “It was something new for me, playing junior hockey in Ontario. Being on the ice with players from the OHL, AHL, NCAA and Europe was a good experience”. It wasn’t the first time in New York for the then 18 yr outdated, nevertheless it was the first time being a part of the group.

When requested about his expertise of Madison Square Garden, he’s fast to reply. “I used to be at sport four of the 2014 Cup closing in opposition to the Kings and it was a nice expertise. Unfortunately they didn’t win the Cup that yr however no less than they gained that sport“. Ciccolini had a good camp with the Rangers earlier than departing for Michigan to begin his school life.

Picking Michigan and shoulder surgical procedure

Ciccolini had a number of choices for school and visited totally different faculties earlier than ending up with Michigan. For Eric, it was vital to be near his household.

Last yr I used to be comitted to Colgate, however I decommitted and obtained a name from Michigan, New Hampshire and North Dakota. I visited Michigan and ND, and determined to choose MI. It is nearer to residence, the services are nice, a lot of fine gamers popping out of that program. I’m pleased with the alternative I made“, he explains his resolution.

With the program in Michigan, Ciccolini is following the similar path as a former Ranger he talks to repeatedly. That man is in fact Jed Ortmeyer, the now 42-year outdated former winger who performed 177 reg season video games for the Blueshirts between 2003 and 2007. Ortmeyer is the Director of Player Management overseeing the prospects in North America.

Ciccolini will get a name as soon as a month from Orts to inspect him. “Especially since the shoulder harm, there was common contact. Ortmeyer additionally went to Michigan so there’s some familiarity there after we speak about our services“, Eric says about him.

While we touched on the topic, I requested Eric to clarify a bit about his shoulder harm. Back in January 2019 he overtextended his shoulder on a play however he determined to play via it. With it being a draft yr, and a lot at stake, he didn’t wish to miss out.

Then in June he tore his labrum and wanted some extra time to get better. “I performed in school and then had surgical procedure in February this yr, lacking the closing few weeks of the season. Right now, I’m absolutely healed and prepared for the new season each time it begins up once more“.

Support coming from his household helps Eric get via the tough season with his harm. His mother and father have missed solely four video games all season. “They journey to each sport, even on the highway, my mother and father are there in the stands.

College life and the quantity 88

His freshman yr in school was eye-opening for Eric Ciccolini. It was the first time he was away from residence and in a totally different surroundings. “I discovered a lot about myself, being away from residence. Handing hockey and life by myself. The first half of the season was an adjustment interval, and after that I used to be extra comfy“, he continues.

The beforehand talked about shoulder harm difficult his season a bit however added to the expertise. The days are lengthy although, with lessons in the morning, hockey apply in the afternoon and then homework in the night.

Now that he absolutely adjusted to life in school, and his shoulder is absolutely healed, Eric is trying ahead to the new season. When that will likely be stays a thriller as of now.

I’m in Ontario since early March. With the borders nonetheless closed, and the season being pushed again, we don’t know when this may change“, Ciccolini says. He’s not the open air kind like Steven Fogarty for occasion.

In his spare time, he likes to loosen up at residence. Video video games with pals is a in style pastime in fact with a lot of younger prospects. But being in Ontario, surrounded by household, is no less than a state of affairs the place he’s comfy as all of us wait for this loopy pandemic to ease up and issues to return to regular.

As so typically, I finish the dialog with the query that’s all the time on my thoughts. What is Eric’s favourite quantity? Growing up in Ontario, it shouldn’t come as a shock it’s quantity 88 due to The Big E.

I all the time wore no 88 as a child due to Eric Lindros“, he explains. His favourite gamers rising up had been 2 different Canadians although, Tyler Seguin and Sidney Crosby. When requested about his sport, he says he tries to mannequin himself after Jesper Fast: “We have a lot in frequent with the method we play. Agressive on the puck, sturdy on the forecheck. So he’s one participant I take a look at“.

PS: I wish to thank Eric Ciccolini for sitting down with me and giving me the alternative to share this story with our fanbase. I met him at the 2019 NHL Draft and he was taking his time to speak to a lot of Ranger followers and pose for photographs. An incredible child.

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