Personally, I did not know much about Kyle Criscuolo until I saw this goal pop up all over reddit and Twitter.
Just look at that beautiful one timer. Cameraman doesn’t even react fast enough to follow the puck in. Speaking of the puck, it looks like it was still in midair!
So needless to say, I’ve definitely been paying more attention to Kyle Criscuolo since then to see who he is and what he’s about.
At 5’8″ and 170 pounds, the 24 year old center isn’t the biggest or strongest guy on the ice, but he hasn’t let that stop him from being successful where he’s been. He had a solid NCAA career at Harvard University, where he put up 113 points (53 goals and 60 assists) over 124 games, most of the alongside Jimmy Vesey. For the last two seasons, he served as captain. He was a 2015-16 Hobey Baker finalist, and at the end of that season the Griffins signed him to an amateur tryout as he was undrafted. He appeared in 4 games before getting a 1 year minor league contract to play with the Griffins full time in the 2016-17 season.
Note: Criscuolo is not able to get called up at the moment because he is only on a minor league contract. The potential is there for the Red Wings to sign him to an entry level contract at the end of the season.
This season has been good for Criscuolo and the Griffins. They currently lead the Central Division with 39pts (18-7-1) and are 3rd overall in the AHL. Criscuolo has been a large part of it, leading all rookies on the team with 20 points (9 goals and 11 assists) and is only behind Matt Lorito for total points this season (Matt has 30, the next rookies on the team are Evgeny Svechnikov and Joe Hicketts, with 13 and 10 points respectively).
We’ve already seen one, but let’s look at some more plays and see what he’s been doing.
10-18 Game Against Iowa Wild
Pretty good play here by Criscuolo, he makes a smart pass by the defender and then crashes the net to bang home the rebound on the doorstep.
11-25 Against Cleveland Monsters
I like this assist almost more than I like the goal, because it shows one of the things that people bring up about Criscuolo and that’s his hockey IQ. Now, if you’re like me, you shoot the puck whenever you’re within sight of the net, but we see Criscuolo here is smart and and passes it off to this season’s whipping boy Brian Lashoff who puts it home.
Here we are later in the game and Criscuolo puts in another rebound goal after another smart pass to get by the goalie. It’s a decent shot but honestly this is a goal that I would expect every player to score with a wide open net like that.
12-7 Against Chicago Wolves
Oh that poor goalie. We’ve seen Mrazek make a similar mistake this year. This goal doesn’t show off a wicked shot or anything but it brings us back to IQ. He sticks with the play and is there to capitalize on the mistake.
The future is hazy for Criscuolo. I like what I’ve seen from him in Grand Rapids, but I showed you that one goal to make a point about what he’s scored so far. The goals seem to be, apart from that one ridiculous one timer, very similar in nature: close in rebounds and so called “greasy” goals on the doorstep. That said, he looks to be a strong skater and has a good sense of where to be, you don’t put up over 3/4ths a point per game without a bit of skill and scoring touch. He’s got a good knack for being in the right place at the right time and that’s nothing to scoff at.
On the other hand, he’s already 24 and size wise is not the type of player that usually breaks into the NHL without a significant scoring presence. I can definitely see potential for him in the bottom 6 for the Red Wings, if they ever need someone new there, but for the time being he’s going to need to keep producing at this rate to get a sniff at an ELC. The window is only going to be open for a couple more seasons at most, and if he doesn’t break in by then, I think we’ll see him as a career AHLer.