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Bruins Top 25 Under 25: #23 Ryan Fitzgerald

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Undersized playmaker Ryan Fitzgerald looks to emerge from the long Johnny Gaudreau/ Kevin Hayes shadow after a breakout rookie season at Boston College

Such a nice boy, they said
Such a nice boy, they said
Bruce Bennett

Position: C/RW
Vitals: 5'9", 176 lbs
Acquired: Drafted 4th round (120st overall) in the 2013 draft by the Boston Bruins.
Current Team: Boston College

Don't let the BU zealots that plague this site sway you, nepotism pick Ryan Fitzgerald isn't just the product of dear old dad's connections. In this past season, his rookie year at Boston College, Ryan Fitzgerald out-produced the debut season of his much-ballyhooed, older, jerk-ass Ranger-property cousin Kevin Hayes. And that's without being propped up by Johnny Hockey, playing instead largely alongside fellow rook Austin Gangelosi and grinder-Captain Patrick Brown, the latter of whom posted career numbers with his new playmaking wing.

With Hayes departing for the pros, linemates Gaudreau and Arnold going down in Flames and the allegedly incoming Sonny Milano walking out on his commitment, the high powered BC offense that led the NCAA last season will be looking for production from some new sources. Fitzgerald sits first in line to absorb the departing trio's minutes, possibly even an ascent to the 1C slot.

The principal knock on Fitzgerald is his size, topping out at a generous 5'9". Aiming to follow in past Jerry York products Brian Gionta, Nate Gerbe and Cam Atkinson, Fitzgerald will have to overcome Boston's size fetish and find a niche in the system to crack a Bruin lineup - though recent promotions to the likes of Reilly Smith and Brad Marchand should give him hope. And from all accounts, Fitzgerald has assets that should help him over this hurdle.

Per Aaron Vickers at Future Considerations:

Fitzgerald possesses some of the best hockey sense in the entire 2013 NHL Draft class, which allows him to succeed against older and bigger competition. A very responsible and sound defensive player, he owns very good playmaking ability as well, making him a viable two-way player.

Prospect watcher Kirk Luedeke and former Bruins scout Grant Sonier second that emotion, citing an underrated two-way game and a tenacious willingness to battle with his bigger elders. His apprenticeship aside Brown was devised for the purpose of further strengthening this side of his game as he will be expected to take on a bigger two-way and PK load in the seasons ahead.

Though he's just one cog on a juggernaut, our frenemies friends at BC Interruption singled out a Fitzgerald goal their play of the year this season instead of copping out and just picking from Gaudreau's highlight package.

3_fitzgerald_a_medium

UMass LOL.

What we said:

NOTHING! NOTHING AT ALL! He fell just shy of last season's rankings, only receiving two placing votes, from Dan - who has left him off this season - and yours truly. This year:

Rank Change from 2013 M. Leonard Cornelius Nolan Dan Giesse Sean Sarah Kristian Servo
23 +6 20 n/a 20 n/a n/a 25 24 22 12

The verdict:

Just a full year out of high school, Fitzgerald has top-six tools and a three zone game that could overcome his stature, but he presently represents a longer-term prospect who will likely play the run of his collegiate seasons before cracking the pros. He'll be handed the keys to the BC offense this year and could turn into a sleeper pick in the Bruins system if he passes this upcoming test. Stay in school, kid.