WASHINGTON, D.C. — On July 8, David Gucciardi was at the rink at Michigan State while preparing for his sophomore season with the NCAA’s Spartans. Soon, he found himself tackled by his teammates in a tight embrace as they found out before the young blueliner that he had been taken in the seventh round of the 2022 NHL Draft by the Washington Capitals.
Just days later, Gucciardi was on the ice in D.C., playing on the Capitals rink at Capital One Arena.
“Not really too many words to describe that,” Gucciardi reflected. “But it was an amazing feeling. Just a lot of excitement.”
The 19-year-old LHD is humble, soft-spoken and wearing a wide smile as he takes in the Washington dressing room. He had been waiting a long time to get to this moment, to get a taste of NHL life — and that goes beyond the seven rounds of this year’s draft.
There were high hopes for Gucciardi in 2021. He was coming off an impressive USHL season with the Waterloo Black Hawks that saw him dish 17 points in 29 games. However, he was passed over in the draft, as no teams chose to roll the dice on him as he had room to grow his game.
So, Gucciardi kept his head held high and went to play NCAA hockey at Michigan State. He chose an agriculture major as his backup plan, and then returned to work on the ice, where he quickly got back on the radar with a strong season with the Spartans.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS PROSPECTS: Hanelt Ready To Build Own Legacy With Capitals
In his freshman campaign, Gucciardi suited up for all 36 games, dishing five goals and six assists. He moved the puck well and showed great control and ability, while not shying away from joining the rush. And, although Michigan State had a rough go of it in the Big Ten through 2021-22, Gucciardi was among the bright spots.
So, this July, he went through the same motions. Waiting and waiting. Trying to pass the time and not think about it. Then, the Capitals were on the clock, and pick No. 213 was in. It was him.
“Just feels nice to finally get the reward of being drafted,” he said. “It’s one day, so got to keep pushing.”
Growing up in Toronto, Ontario, Gucciardi spent his days playing on the background rink, pretending he was part of an NHL squad. Now, he is getting that chance in the District and has plenty of upside as he enters his sophomore season.
The 6-2, 185-pound defender can play a physical game and battle at both ends of the ice. He loves to move the puck and prides himself on a clean two-way game, and he uses speed and puck control to his advantage. Gucciardi also owns a wicked point shot.
“I’m going to keep pushing for that until I hope I eventually make it,” Gucciardi said. “Just a long road ahead, and just keep pushing.
“It’s amazing,” Gucciardi said of being with Washington, adding, “They made me feel right at home.”