Giovanni Vallati – Kitchener Rangers – Player Profile

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 178 pounds

Date of birth: February 21, 2000

Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 16th overall, 2016 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting pre-season:  B Prospect

NHL Central Scouting mid-term: 38th North American Skaters

NHL Central Scouting final rank: 57th North American Skaters

When it comes to the 2018 National Hockey League Draft and defencemen available from the Ontario Hockey League, this season is no different then any other. There are three distinct groups: those projected to go in the first round, the next group, and those that will get drafted but have a tough road to the NHL. Kitchener Rangers’ blueliner Giovanni Vallati is in that second group.

Depending on who you ask, Evan Bouchard, Rasmus Sandin, Kevin Bahl and Ryan Merkley are in that first group. The next wave is made up of Vallati, Declan Chisholm, Nico Gross and Sean Durzi. Vallati has the benefit of a deep playoff run although that is not reflected in NHL Central Scouting’s rankings as their list was finalized long before the playoffs ended. Yet they still managed to drop him 19 spots from their mid-term rankings to their final rankings.

Giovanni Vallati of the Kitchener Rangers. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Giovanni Vallati of the Kitchener Rangers. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Vallati played his Minor Midget AAA hockey during the 2015-2016 season with the Vaughan Kings. He played in 64 games and scored 9 goals while adding 27 assists. The Rangers selected Vallati with the 16th overall pick at the 2016 OHL Priority Selection. A year earlier, he was the 17th overall pick by the Gloucester Rangers at the CCHL Bantam Protected Draft.

OHL Central Scouting’s report at the time of the OHL Draft read as follows:

Giovanni is a smooth skating defender that isn’t shy to join the rush when given the opportunity to do so. He is a very strong skater with excellent mobility which allows him to beat a forechecker by himself. His defensive game has really improved since the beginning of the season and he has really simplified his game. He has very good skills and a hard, accurate shot from the point. Giovanni was relied on heavily by his team to help get them into a playoff position and to play in the OHL Cup. 

Last season, Vallati joined the Rangers out of camp and had a pretty good season for a rookie defenceman. He played in 59 games for the Rangers and scored 5 goals and 16 assists. He would add two more helpers in 5 playoff games. He also won a silver medal with Canada Black at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 where he had two assists in 6 games. He would be named to the OHL’s Second All-Rookie Team.

The question coming into this season was whether Vallati could take the next step offensively while continuing to improve other aspects of his game. He played in 65 games and scored just 3 goals but added 23 helpers, with 4 more in 19 playoff contests. Still, he managed to finish fourth among first time draft eligible defencemen in scoring behind Bouchard, Merkley and Sandin.

There isn’t much of anything in Central Scouting’s report you could argue with. Vallati is in fact an excellent skater with terrific mobility and very good speed. As mentioned, he can beat the forecheck with his skating alone. But he’s also very good at reading the play and is very capable of making a crisp, clean pass to exit the zone.

In the d-zone, Vallati has shown improvement from year-to-year. He has decent size and uses it well, although he is going to need to add some muscle. Despite that, he wins more then his fair share of battles and will only improve with the added mass. He anticipates extremely well and possesses an active stick – he will close lanes with his positioning or his twig.

Although Vallati plays a very safe game, he uses that same skating ability and decision making in the offensive zone. He is not averse to taking risks, however, he picks his spots. He can pinch to keep the puck in the o-zone. He can move any-which-way to find lanes and set up teammates. He walks the line extremely well and he has a rocket of a shot from the blueline that he takes with a purpose. He gets it through regularly but isn’t always trying to score but put pucks in places where there is going to be a rebound for his teammates. He has shown he can quarterback a powerplay at the OHL level, but the NHL is a different animal.

For Vallati, the draft in June will be interesting to say the least. He has size, the skating and the skill set. For him it’s just a matter of putting it all together. To be more specific, it will come down to whether an NHL team believes they can help him put it all together.

Few have seen Vallati as much as Kitchener Rangers analyst then Mike Farwell of 570 News. I asked Mike if he could share a sentence or two to describe Vallati. This is what he had to say:

I’d describe him as a smooth skater with an excellent first pass and a defenceman who thinks the game well. He picks his spots to pinch and does so very effectively.

Stat page from Elite Prospects

 

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2 thoughts on “Giovanni Vallati – Kitchener Rangers – Player Profile

  1. again, another well written assessment of a Rangers prospect. i have to admit, i expected more from Vallati this past regular season. i am not sure if he was playing through a minor injury at time’s or was adjusting his game in any particular way but i personally (not a scout, just a fan) had higher expectations from him this past year. although those thoughts were quickly erased in the playoffs where i objectively believe Vallati had a positive break out and was one of our better player’s in a very demanding role as our #3 Dman. the team literally had only 4 Dmen logging virtually all the min’s given the depletion of bodies and a few player’s that could be entrusted by coach McKee. but back to that story in a moment, as i do have to admit that Vallati’s 19 spot drop was warranted. i just didn’t see him standout in way’s like Faksa did or even Connor Hall in their draft yr’s. i will even go on record and say Hallsy was better than Vallati (but his constant shoulder injury has effectively derailed his pro prospects) with the exception of taking penalties, Vallati doesn’t put his team a man down often. but whether it was just chance or by his own lapses, i noticed Vallati was on the ice for a bunch of goal’s against. and this is why i truly thought Damiani was our best draft eligible player this past yr (going so far as to tweet Kyle Dubas to reinforce their scouting on Riley as the best pick in Kitch in my eye’s) but now back to that playoff run and boy did Vallati ever make me change my mind because i was so pleased with his play in all those big playoff situations! in one game i attended he had a clutch poke swipe with his stick on Kyrou who was no doubt about to rip a PP goal from the slot on us. in fact Vallati has an active stick without the puck and his skating is elite, almost on par with Darnell Nurse in his draft yr. so this new level of play that i perceived obviously earned Vallati the full confidence from the coaching staff to lead the Rangers 2nd D pairing in the heaviest min’s after the two biggest horse’s: Vuks & Stan. so, in closing i truly congratulate Vallati on his enhanced game and hope his progression continues for season’s to come. obviously an NHL team is going to select him for all the tool’s and intangibles he possesses that might just at best allow him to emulate a player like Jay Bouwmeester. but even if he doesn’t reach that absolute pinnacle of hockey, he should give himself a chance to be a Pro and i wish him the best.

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