Exclusive Interview With Nick D'Agostino
Nick D’Agostino – D – 7th Rd. – 210 Overall – 6’1 – 177lbs – Mississuaga, ONT
Jesse Marshall: Let’s start with the basic stuff, Nick. A lot of people in Pittsburgh obviously haven’t had a chance to see St. Michaels play, so how would you describe yourself as a defenseman?
Nick D’Agostino: I think that I’m your prototypical two-way defenseman, I like to contribute at both ends of the ice. I take care of my own end, that’s my first priority obviously, but I like to contribute in the offensive end. I think I’m a pretty decent skater, I have pretty decent size, and I like to make a good first breakout pass to my forwards.
JM: A question I always like to ask two way defensemen is whether or not you spent any time at forward or did those offensive skills just come naturally to you?
ND: Just naturally. Growing up I always liked offense and scoring goals. I’m not much of a goal scorer, but just in terms of getting involved on the offense and jumping into the play when you can, it develops when you’re at practice or whatever, you just go around with the puck, stuff like that. It just kinda happens and that was the case for me.
JM: Growing up in Ontario did you have any NHL idols as a kid, maybe someone you tried to model you’re game after?
ND: Actually, I’ve been a really huge Detroit Red Wings fan ever since I was a kid.
JM: You’re breaking my heart.
ND: Yeah, I always thought a lot of Nick Lidstrom and the way he plays the game. He’s so defensively sound and his positioning is just second to none. The things he brings to the game, you really and watch him and try to incorporate it to your own.
JM: Back this fall you made the early decision to commit to Cornell. What lead you to them so fast?
ND: They were one of the first teams that approached me and, you know, Cornell is one of the top hockey schools in the states. The combination they can provide in terms of the athletic and the academic is just second to none. I was just completely taken away on my visit. The coaching staff are first and foremost great people but they’re knowledgeable about the game and it just seemed like an easy decision to me, for sure.
JM: On the academic side, have you selected a major yet?
ND: Yes, I’m enrolled into the college of industrial and labor relations because I want to maybe get into law, contract law, negotiations, and stuff like that in case hockey doesn’t work out.
JM: That was going to be one of my questions later. If you had to choose a career outside of hockey what would it be?
ND: For sure, I definitely want to stay involved in hockey, whether that’s at the NHL level or maybe being a player agent down the road. You look at all these GM’s and coaches in the national hockey league and they all seem to have some sort of collegiate background. It’s just something to work off of.
JM: Talk about Saturday for a second, where were you and what were you doing when the selection was made?
ND: Alright, Saturday was a pretty interesting day. My agent told me I had a pretty good shot at getting picked and I’d interviewed with a bunch of teams, Pittsburgh wasn’t one of them. So I didn’t really want to watch the draft, I tried to stay busy that day. When I heard the draft was winding down and heading to the seventh round, I actually sat down at my computer and watched the first half of the seventh round go by. None of the teams that I’d really talked to were really in the bottom half of the seventh round so it wasn’t looking too good there. I went outside to get my hockey bag because we were just about to get on the ice again and, surprisingly enough, I got a call from my agent and he let me know that Pittsburgh had selected me there at the second to last pick. So it was a surprise, definitely a huge honor. Pittsburgh is just a great organization and watching them in their playoff run with the youth they have here, it was just a great honor and I was extremely pleased. Extremely pleased.
JM: So looking back at Saturday, did you have an expectation, any idea where you’d end up, or were you just going with it?
ND: I was just going with it, even going into this year I wasn’t thinking about the NHL much, it was just something that happened over the year. If it had happened it would be a bonus, if not it would have been a little disappointing but it wouldn’t have changed much. I am still going to work hard to pursue the dream, for sure.
JM: Now let’s go back to St. Michael’s last year, you were playing with Brandon Burlon (Selected #52 overall by Devils this year), did you guys spend a lot of time together on a pairing and did you learn anything from him?
ND: At the beginning of the year our coach was rolling six defenseman a lot, trying to find a balance, but at the end of the season and into the playoffs we spent a lot of time together and we just seemed to compliment each other pretty well. Brandon is just a great defenseman, just an unbelievable hockey player. New Jersey is very lucky to have him. Just seeing the way he approaches the game day in and day out and how hard he works, he’s an extremely hard worker, those were the two main things that I noticed. He’s around for a couple of years, he’s going to Michigan this year, but to have a presence like him in the dressing room and to sit beside him in there was great. To be able to pick the little things out of his game that made him so successful was very beneficial to me.
JM: Did you get a chance to talk to Brandon after the draft and maybe rib him a little bit because you’re a divisional rival now?
ND: Yeah, I did get a chance to talk to him, he sent me a text. He was actually down at the draft and he found out before I did so he sent me a text message saying congratulations. But yeah, divisional rivals, that’s right, New Jersey and Pittsburgh. That’s interesting, maybe someday we’ll be playing against each other.
JM: Obviously, you’ve only been in Pittsburgh for a couple of days. How do you like it so far and how has everything been going?
ND: It’s been a great experience, right from the prospects in the Penguins organization, to the coaching staff, and to the everyday people just walking around in downtown Pittsburgh, everybody has been so helpful. Everyone is so nice and so polite, they’ve been very welcoming. It’s been a great experience just taking it in and seeing some of the guys who played for Wilkes-Barre last year and absorbing everything in that you can.
JM: On the ice, has any offensive player stood out to you that you had to go one on one with or anything?
ND: We’ve only done a few one on one drills, but you can tell by just watching some kids, Luca Caputi, and even the pick this year, Nathan Moon, two great players with great offensive skills and I’m definitely looking forward to future battles with them.
JM: Time for the easy stuff, back at St. Michaels, did you have a nickname?
ND: I did, it was dagger.
JM: Favorite movie?
ND: I’d have to say Wedding Crashers. Definitely a classic.
JM: Favorite band?
ND: I like everything. Right now I’d actually have to say Tom Petty.
JM: Favorite food or a pregame meal?
ND: Definitely pasta.
I’d like to thank Nick for taking the time to talk. We wish him the best of luck as a Freshman at Cornell next year!