That’s why I wanted to talk to forward David de Kastrozza Sunday for the start of Caps’ rookie camp. The de Kastrozzas of hockey don’t come into camp with the buzz that greets a Marcus Johansson or a pedigree that sets GMs salivating. Kastrozza is a 2010 college graduate who never participated in a camp at Kettler until this July. Contrast that with nineteen-year-old Cody Eakin, already in his fifth camp at Kettler and who, according to Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau, looks like he’s entering camp with the attitude that he will be on an NHL roster this year.
As of Jan. 28 this year, a profile of Kastrozza in his college newspaper described him as “unsure” whether he faced a future without professional hockey after graduation.
But overcoming the lineup odds is a battle de Kastrozza has already waged and won before. Kastrozza started skating at the age of three and was part of a University of Maine team his freshman year that made it to the Frozen Four. That year, he was a regular in the lineup.
A torn ACL kept him out of the game most of sophomore year, and Kastrozza said he battled the injury into the following season. At the end of his junior year, a career in hockey was far from his immediate goal, which consisted instead of trying to remain on his own college team.
“Even at the end of my junior year, the coach was making some cuts – he cut probably about three or four guys, so I mean, I was just looking to stay on the team,” Kastrozza said. “I was really just focused on playing hockey in college, not getting cut.”
He went into his senior year wanting to give his all, and redemption came as he scored his first college goal and found his niche on the power play. He also got to play seven games for the Capitals’ ECHL affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays. And just four days ago, the Stingrays announced he would be part of their 2010-2011 roster.
His degree in finance, though under his belt, can be pushed to the back seat.
What defines Kastrozza’s play? Kastrozza said he’s always thought of himself as a hard worker, someone that’s “going to give it 100%,” and found success his senior year on the power plays in front of the net, taking faceoffs, and blocking shots on the penalty kill. His college coach is quoted in the University of Maine campus newspaper saying, “He’s good at everything.” In a video on the Stingrays’ website, head coach Cail MacLean said Kastrozza is a unique combination of “size and speed” and praised his skating and his ability to “hound the puck.”
Kastrozza said he doesn’t necessarily come from a hockey family, though he did say his dad was the one who got him into the game, explaining, “He’s from Massachusetts” – which also explains why Kastrozza, though from New Jersey, roots for the Bruins.