Two years removed from a successful, if short, college career with Michigan State University, Derek Grant is on track. Drafted in the fourth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and standing at 6'2, Grant was through one productive season in the BCHL. He would play one more before heading off to college, where he enjoyed two more strong campaigns. It would seem he was hardly limited in responsibility or ice time in his first season of college, enjoying an unusually productive season in which he posted 30 points through 38 games. In the same number the following year, he put up similar numbers, bettering his tally by three.
Grant made a brief debut for the B-Sens that season, and, fresh off an ELC with the Senators, departed college and joined the AHL club full-time at the start of the next year. A witness to the team's Calder Cup push, Grant found himself on a squad hampered by key departures, one that wound up being among the league's worst. He still found a way to scrounge together a commendable year of .38 points-per-game. Yet, Grant's strongest assets, it somehow seemed, were not yet on display. After all, he had been spoken of in some circles as a hidden gem in the Senators' system- a player capable of being defensively responsible, a smooth skater, with some offensive ability on top of it all.
This year, Binghamton fans were treated to those traits. Luke Richardson placed trust in players throughout the lineup, with Grant taking the charge on the penalty kill and putting up silly short-handed goal numbers. In all, his point totals were relatively similar-- in three more games, he had only five more points this season than last. However, the telling aspect is that he practically turned the numbers on their head: from eight goals and fifteen assists to nineteen goals and nine assists.
When writing any article on any prospect, especially in this series, it is rather convenient to plug a player into a future roster spot, be it one or two seasons down the road. Of course, I mostly do this in blissful ignorance of the current lineup and how completely it would have to be altered to figure in even a few of the lower echelon hopefuls. The point here is that a player, should they continue along their projected path, should or, rather, could serve in such a capacity for any team: not just Ottawa.
With Derek Grant, however, one can see precisely how he would fit into a spot among Ottawa's forward corps. Rather than jostling for a spot amongst the fairly set top-six, Grant finds himself in the glut of those pushing for bottom-six spots. Given his size and skills, he should grow into a serviceable bottom-six centreman. A gifted skater with noticeable intelligence in how he executes his two-way role, Grant seems an ideal future fit in Paul MacLean's system.
Perhaps this is part of the explanation as to why he received a call-up to the Senators' roster last year for a glimpse of the NHL game ahead of arguably more capable offensive players: Grant is being groomed for a defensively responsible checking role on the big club. Of course, it didn't hurt that he was on a wild run of short-handed goals.
On the cusp of another important season in his development, Grant is not at a make-it-or-break-it point in his career. Still, a strong training camp followed by an improvement on last year's effort, as well as perhaps another trip or two to the big club would go a long way in raising his stock and making lineup projections more than just recreational conjecture.