photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Name: Stefan Della Rovere
Weight: 200 lbs
Hometown: Maple, Ontario
For anyone who watched the 2010 World Junior Championships, Stefan Della Rovere ("Delly" to fans) is not an unfamiliar name. Famously losing the Gold Medal to American hero John Carlson, Della Rovere wore an "A" for that Canadian team and had 3 goals and 3 assists in Team Canada's 6 games. 2010 was not his first WJC - he also played in 2009, notching 1 goal and 1 assist - oh, and a disconcerting 26 PIMs in just 6 games.
In fact, Della Rovere's lack of discipline is really the only thing that coaches and scouts have found wrong with his game. He's been perceived as a "pest" and even "dirty." He's not one to shy away from a fight, but his propensity for taking dumb penalties has thankfully waned a bit as he matures. In his first full season with the Barrie Colts (his current club in the OHL) he led the team in PIMs with 171. He promised to cut down on the questionable penalties after the 2009 WJC in order to make the 2010 roster. This season, he has gained a little more discipline and spent 125 minutes in the penalty box. However, the "pest" role can be a useful one for the Capitals, as Jason Chimera showed us during the postseason series with Montreal, so long as Della Rovere can keep it under control, continue to improve on his discipline and not turn out to become a goon.
The best part about the "pest" status is that Della Rovere can also score goals. In his 2008-09 Barrie regular season, he scored 27 goals. This season was his first after being drafted in the 7th round (204th overall) by the Capitals, and made the late pick a standout prospect. He was subsequently signed to a three-year entry-level contract with the Capitals in April 2009. After his season with the Barrie Colts ended in 2009, Della Rovere played 2 games with the South Carolina Stingrays (the Capitals' ECHL affiliate) and recorded 1 assist.
He returned to the Barrie Colts for the 2009-10 season, now wearing the "C" for his club, and racking up 18 goals and 23 assists in the regular season. He's continued to build on his reputation as a grinder; Corey Masisak has compared him to Matt Bradley for his willingness to sacrifice his body to make the tough hits. For this, he has earned his teammates' respect. A Canadian junior hockey news site interviewed several of Della Rovere's teammates and his coach after his 2010 WJC selection. Teammate Ryan Strome said he deserves the letter on his jersey - in Barrie and at the WJC:
"He's probably the most appreciated player on our team... He puts the team ahead of himself. That's why he's where he is."
Teammate Kyle Clifford added:
"He's definitely a heart and soul guy... When you need inspiration, you go to him. Just being around him, it's hard not to be inspired."
The Barrie Colts are currently fighting the Windsor Spitfires for the OHL Championship. Windsor leads the series 3-0, with Game 4 on Tuesday. Whoever wins will compete against hosts the Brandon Wheat Kings, as well as the WHL and QMJHL champions for the CHL Memorial Cup. Whatever the outcome, at 20 years old, this should be Della Rovere's last OHL season. Next year, he's likely to join South Carolina, or, depending on what the coaches see in this summer's development camp (he missed most of last year's camp with a shoulder injury), even the Hershey Bears. Hockey's Future rating system puts him as a probable third-liner, but also as the #12 prospect for the Capitals. Barrie coach Marty Williamson agrees:
"He's not going to be the leading scorer on a team, or lead the league in scoring, but he's a hard-working guy who finds a way to get the job done... He always finds a way."
UPDATE 5/11/10: I somehow missed this news the day of, but according to the Barrie Colts (who lost Game 4 to the Windsor Spitfires and thus were knocked out of the playoffs), Della Rovere has been called up to Hershey as of May 6. I've been unable to confirm if he has yet joined the team, but he is expected to be on the Black Aces practice squad and will likely not see game action in this Hershey postseason.
Thanks to Nate Ewell, he has confirmed to me that Delly has joined the Black Aces practice squad in Hershey.