By Thomas Harrington
With the expansion draft, entry draft, and first few days of free agency behind us, it’s time for the first prospect profile of the summer: Giovanni Fiore. In these prospect profiles, I’ll be going over any new prospects the Ducks acquired during last season, whether through free agency or trade, and give a brief overview of the player. When these are completed, I’ll transition to prospect updates, where I’ll update the status of every Anaheim prospect that I wrote about last summer and who is still part of Anaheim’s farm system.
The Ducks signed Fiore to a three-year entry-level deal in April. He’s been in the QMJHL for the last several years and led the league with 52 goals last season. After signing with the Ducks, he signed an ATO with the San Diego Gulls and joined them for the end of the season, but didn’t appear in the regular season or playoff games. Overall, Fiore scored 114 goals and 224 points in 281 games in his junior career. He also played for four different teams in the QMJHL: the Acadie-Bathurst Titans, Drummondville Voltigeurs, Shawinigan Cataractes, and the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
Fiore was passed over in the draft, but he was an invitee at Montreal’s training camp before the start of last season. While he failed to land a contract, that experience clearly served him well going into this season. In his first couple of seasons in the QMJHL, Fiore didn’t exactly light the world on fire, but he had back to back seasons of 20 or more goals in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. It was when he joined the Screaming Eagles that Fiore’s numbers really took a big jump up. He joined them for the end of the 2015-2016 season and scored 15 goals in just 26 games. He followed that up with 52 goals in just 61 games last season. Fiore’s best night with Cape Breton came last season when he scored five goals and six points in a game back in December. Fiore was far and away Cape Breton’s most dangerous offensive player, as no one else on the Screaming Eagles even broke 30 goals last season. He received QMJHL First All-Star Team honors for his 50 goal season.
At the recent development camp, Fiore scored the lone goal of the scrimmage, leading Team White to a 1-0 win. Fiore played on a line with Sam Steel, one of Anaheim’s top forward prospects. They’ll be in different leagues this season, but it would be great if this camp was the spark that leads to great chemistry between these two in the years to come.
Fiore isn’t the most well-rounded of players, but what he does he does well, and that’s score goals. With 80 goals in his final two seasons of juniors, he really showed what his game is all about. However, one thing to keep in mind, he was an average player in his final year, and average players in juniors often put up career numbers. Even with that fact in mind though, Fiore’s 52 goals last season is incredibly impressive. He’s got a good shot and goes to the net. If he can bring that kind of game to the AHL, the Gulls will be quite happy with him this season.
Going into next season, there’s a good amount of offensive talent in San Diego. There aren’t any huge stars, but between Kalle Kossila, Kevin Roy, Deven Sideroff, Julius Nattinen, Derek Grant, Sam Carrick, Corey Tropp, Mitch Hults, and possibly Nic Kerdiles, there’s plenty of depth. For his first professional season, I’m not expecting 20+ goals and 50+ points out of Fiore (though I’d certainly be happy with that). Instead, I’d just like to see him get better as the season goes on. It’s not uncommon for first-year AHL players to struggle early on, and I think Fiore will have some growing pains. However, as long as he can learn from that and become a dependable top nine forward for the Gulls this year, I’ll be happy with his development. I’d like to see him become a consistent top six forward for San Diego by next season. His ability to play both center and wing should help him carve out a spot for himself in San Diego’s lineup. Also, he improved every season of his junior career, so if he can carry over that kind of development cycle into the AHL, the Gulls could have a very good player in the next year or two.
In terms of his NHL future, Fiore is a difficult player to predict. He went undrafted, but the league is full of players who were passed over in the draft and became NHL regulars. Just look at Chris Kunitz and Andy McDonald, two key pieces of Anaheim’s 2007 Stanley Cup. He could end up being an NHL regular in a team’s top six someday, or he could end up being an AHL depth guy. For now, it’s a wait and see approach in terms of where he ends up. Again, the fact that he improved in every season of juniors is a good sign, but now he has to transfer that kind of development into professional hockey. Hopefully, we see him making his NHL debut in the next couple of years.
The Ducks signed Fiore to a three-year deal, so they definitely think he has a future with the team, though it may take some time for him to get there. He’ll be a restricted free agent when his contract is up, and assuming he continues to develop when it’s over, I would expect the Ducks to bring him back at that time. If his development falters or he doesn’t fit in, then the Ducks would likely not qualify him; he would become a free agent and sign where he wants to.
My next prospect profile will be on Angus Redmond.
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July 6th, 2017