The floodgates have opened this week for undrafted free agents in the college ranks, and NHL teams have started to take advantage. This includes the Detroit Red Wings, who have secured Harvard forward Kyle Criscuolo on a minor-league deal for 2016/17.
Kyle Criscuolo agreed to a minor league deal with @DetroitRedWings for 16-17. Will join Grand Rapids this week. 2 year Harvard Captain
— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) March 29, 2016
Criscuolo has been on the tip of the tongue for many hockey enthusiasts lately, but not for his own merit. The soon to be 24-year-old is attached to the hip of Jimmy Vesey, who many consider to be the cream of the crop of this class of NCAA skaters, even if the soon-to-be-ex Nashville Predators prospect can’t sign with another team until August 15th.
But that doesn’t mean that Criscuolo is chopped liver, either. The native of Southampton, New Jersey was second on his team in goals this year, trailing only Vesey as he put 19 pucks in the back of the net in 34 games, adding 13 assists to match. This wraps up a four-season college career where he picked up 113 points in 124 games, won an ECAC Championship, and was named to the conference’s second all-star team last season.
It’s not incredibly likely that Criscuolo ends up being an NHL talent, hence his contract being signed with the Grand Rapids Griffins rather than with the Red Wings. Ultimately, his production with Harvard was solid but not out of this world, and he doesn’t have a history of rising terribly far above the pack, even in his youth. He also doesn’t physically rise above much of anybody; at 5’8, 170 pounds, he’s far from an intimidating body. But with no risk involved and, should the Wings have interest, the potential benefit of enticing Vesey, why not take a chance on the young man?
While Criscuolo’s contract doesn’t start until next season, he has also signed an Amateur Tryout deal with the Griffins allowing him to finish the season with them. If nothing else, he’ll be an option if players start falling out of the lineup down the playoff stretch.