March 8, 2011

AHL Journal: De Kastrozza finds home with Hershey

by Dan Hickling

David de Kastrozza (photo: Dan Hickling)

Unheralded and certainly undrafted when he wrapped up his four-year University of Maine career last spring, you wouldn't have found David de Kastrozza's name on any hockey-related lists.

Not a negotiation list for any NHL team, and certainly not any sort of game-day roster.

So the notion of his being included on an AHL Clear Day List, and that of the two-time defending Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears, no less, would have been far-fetched, at the least.

Yet, when the CDLs were released on Tuesday, there was de Kastrozza, tucked between such notables as Keith Aucoin (Chelmsford, Mass.), Sheldon Souray and Brian Willsie. He had made himself that valuable to the Bears.

“He's a guy who will fit into the bottom six of our forwards,” said Hershey coach Mark French, “but he needs to add a lot of energy, which he does. He can create some havoc because of his foot speed and because of his size. We'll need him to do that down the stretch.”

Each of the AHL's 30 teams were required to submit their Clear Day Lists – the 22-man roster eligible to play the rest of the season – by Monday afternoon. Most teams included battle-hardened veterans on their lists, as well as drafted prospects.

To see a rookie free agent like de Kastrozza selected for the CDL isn't unheard of. But neither is it the norm. Especially considering that the lanky (6-foor-3, 200 pounds) forward has just 20 AHL games under his belt.

Needless to say, de Kastrozza is taking his inclusion as a big pump of the tires.

“Definitely,” he said. “Everything that's gone on. Getting a (full AHL) contract has been a huge boost to me. I'm not as afraid to make mistakes. (French) putting me on the roster has definitely given me a lot of confidence. And it shows he has confidence in me.”

De Kastrozza barely factored into the offense during his first three years at Maine, garnering just five points (all of them assists) during that time. His senior season bore a larger offensive bounty -- nine goals and 12 assists -- which was followed by a three-game ATO stint with South Carolina of the ECHL. That much got his toe in the door.

“He's a guy we saw in development camp and training camp,” said French. “(He) wasn't under contract with Washington or with Hershey. He saw him get hot in South Carolina a little bit, and we thought it was a good opportunity to get a look at him.”

Thus far, de Kastrozza has scored once as a Bear. Then again, he's being given a chance to fully round out his game.

“It's a little tough to go to the next level,” he said. “It's almost like your freshman year in college again. You've got to work your way up to the penalty kill or the power play. The game's lot faster than in college or the ECHL, (with) a lot of more skilled, smarter players. That's been a little hard to adapt to adapt, but nothing I can't handle. Hopefully I'll get a chance to stick.”

Perhaps long enough to make a few more Clear Day Lists.

Or just maybe even get his name on a Stanley Cup.

Around the AHL

Sunday's little rumble between the Providence Bruins and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers netted a combined 36 infractions and 125 PIMs (88 to the P-Bruins). Now it's also resulted in three suspensions, all of them going to Providence. Kirk MacDonald and Anderew Bodnarchuk were each handed three-game sitdowns by league disciplinarian Rod Pasma. Zach Hamill received a one-gamer. … On a more positive note, Providence captain Trent Whitfield was named the AHL's Player of the Week, after having scored four goals and set up three others. It's all the more heartening when you consider that Whitfield's distinguished career when he severed an Achilles tendon last summer.

Dan Hickling can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com.