Top 25 Under 25, No. 15: Derek Grant
Derek Grant climbs up to 15th spot in this year's Silver Seven Sens Top 25 Under 25 series
In his third full season as a pro, Derek Grant was given an extended look with the Ottawa Senators. While not the flashiest player out there, the coaching staff relied on him to fill a defensive role. With that responsibility, came a lot of penalty kill time. Over his 20-game stint with the big club, 22% of Grant's ice-time was spent on the penalty kill, the highest share on the team.
Derek Grant acknowledged his role in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen:
"Every game you feel a little more comfortable and I'm trying to earn the coach's trust," said Grant. "I think I'm doing that and obviously penalty killing is one of the strongest aspects of my game and I'm taking pride in it."
Grant's unit struggled at times, giving up 11 powerplay goals over the duration of his stay in Ottawa. Grant will have to continue improving his penalty killing and defensive ability as it seems the coaching staff seem keen on that role for him. He finished his recall with 2 assists and a -3 through 20 games.
At the AHL level, Grant excelled at both ends of the ice. He recorded 12 goals and 10 assists in 46 games, including 3 shorthanded goals. He has a knack of finding the back of the net on the penalty kill, leading the AHL in 2012-2013 in shorthanded goals with 5.
While it seemed as though Grant was going to head into arbitration hoping for a one-way NHL deal, the two sides were able to come to terms on a one-year two-way deal. The one-year deal will allow him the chance to show that he is NHL ready before negotiating a longer term deal.
I believe Grant could find himself as a penalty killing specialist in the future, but in order to do so he must find a way to stand out among the Senator prospects as they already possess significant depth at the center position.