Top 25 Under 25: #11 Phil Di Giuseppe

Position: Winger
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 200 lbs.
2nd Round, 2012 Draft
Age: 19
Last Year's Ranking: 19

Phil Di Giuseppe
Season Age Team Lge GP G A Pts P/G
2009-10 16 Villanova Knights OJHL 56 16 31 47 0.84
2010-11 17 Villanova Knights OJHL 49 24 39 63 1.29
2011-12 18 U. of Michigan CCHA 40 11 15 26 0.65
2012-13 19 U. of Michigan CCHA 40 9 19 28 0.7

The Hurricanes first selection in the 2012 draft, Phil Di Giuseppe jumps seven spots in the rankings in this year's Top 25 Under 25. There was quite a bit of hype for him around draft time because he had a solid freshman year at the University of Michigan and some considered him a "steal" for the Hurricanes in the second round because he was one of the top NCAA prospects at the time. Unfortunately, his sophomore year didn't go as well as some hoped and his final scoring line was only marginally improved over last season. Michigan had a pretty bad season as a team and Di Giuseppe in particular got off to a rough start that took him awhile to recover from. Still, he turned in a pretty solid year and will likely be one of the Wolverines top players next season.

Di Giuseppe is considered somewhat of a "project" because he is very big for his age and has a lot of qualities that would make him a "power forward" at the NHL level. Meaning that he is a sizable forward who forechecks hard and possesses a decent amount of offensive upside. The problem with these types of players is that they either become top-six players or get stuck on the fourth line if they can't score or are a liability defensively. Based on his performance in college, Di Giuseppe is probably somewhere in the middle. He hasn't been that great of a goal-scorer, although he does shoot the puck quite a lot, but he has some play-making talent and has gained points from that.

Size is something that fools a lot of GMs and scouts because every team wants to get bigger these days and are always drawn to some prospects because of it. This isn't always a bad thing because size is a great asset to have but some bigger players tend to get more hype around draft time because everyone believes they can be the next "power forward" in the NHL. A good combination of skill and size is hard to find these days, though and while it makes players like this extremely valuable, it's also very tough to find them in the draft, especially since most of them are only teenagers at the time. I'm not sure if Di Giuseppe falls into this class because while he plays a strong game away from the puck, he isn't a notably physical player and can be a creative play-maker when given the opportunity.  He can be the guy who over-powers defensemen and goes to the net to score, but he make some very impressive moves in open ice to maneuver around defenders.

This is the impression that I got from Di Giuseppe from the Michigan games i watched last season and most who follow the team have had nothing but good things to say about his play despite the low scoring numbers. Most hockey minds tend to like guys who play a gritty game and do the hard work along the boards, so this is probably why. Most love his work ethic and see him as someone who can be a force to be reckoned with in a few years, but still needs a little more fine tuning before he reaches that level. This is also the reason why Di Giuseppe's considered somewhat of a "project" right now because while he has a lot of tools, he still needs time to put everything together before he's at the level scouts project him as. He could be a hell of a player and a dangerous top-six forward once his offense starts to come around but until that day comes, PdG will be considered a work in progress.

Next season should be interesting for Di Giuseppe because he should be considered one of the "leaders" of this young Michigan team and will get every opportunity to succeed on one of their first two lines. The Hurricanes haven't been afraid to sign their NCAA prospects to entry-level deals before their senior year, so we could even see him in Charlotte before the year is over. Di Giuseppe has a lot of qualities that will translate over to the pro game, so his offense might not be a huge concern. He does have a ton of potential there, though and you would like to see him post some better numbers in his junior year, which I think he will. He shoots the puck quite a bit and the goals will come as long as he continues to shoot the puck at a high rate. That is generally how things work for most players and I don't see him being any different.

Even as an upperclassman, Di Giuseppe is still a very young player at only 19 years of age and isn't even close to being the oldest player on his old team. There is plenty of time for him to work on his all-around game, but I think most are expecting a big year from him next season with his role increasing both on and off the ice. Should that happen he could find himself year the top of Carolina's prospect totem pole. This is still a pretty big "if," though because similar things were predicted for him last season and his performance stayed about the same. That isn't the worst thing in the world, but you want to see a player with Di Giuseppe's talent & potential do a little more and I think we'll see that next season.