“It was a little difficult to get passed over because a lot of my friends got drafted,” D’Agostino said. “I always knew I was going to the collegiate route because of my parents’ influence, but it would have been nice to have that recognition. Either way it motivated my play, and I was drafted by Pittsburgh two years later.”
Drafted in 2008 by the Pittsburgh Penguins, D’Agostino has been able to take his time to develop his game in the ECAC. In 125 collegiate games, the Ontario native has put up 69 career points as D’Agostino has established himself as one of the premier, two-way defensemen in ECAC play.
“Nick has gotten a lot better defensively during his time here,” Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. “He is much better in transition, and he is constantly helping our offensive attack get the puck out and up ice. He is just continuing to get better and better every game.”
D’Agostino takes the same view of his game that is held by his coach.
“I have grown a lot as a player since my freshman season because, when I was younger, I sometimes was a little too offensive minded,” admitted D'Agostino. “Cornell has done a great job of developing NHL defensemen, so I think my two-way game has come a long way being in this system. The coaching staff has really helped my defensive game especially my defensive zone coverage.”
A lot of drafted college players have benefited from the opportunity to participate in their NHL team’s development camps and D’Agostino is no different. It gives players the ability to size up their talents against players they could be competing against for NHL jobs in the future. It also allows players to get a sample of what the NHL demands on a day-to-day basis.
“I have been to five development camps now, and they have been an awesome experience because you take in a lot of new information,” D’Agostino said. “You have to be really detail oriented to play at the next level, so they have done a good job helping me learn a lot of the little things. The past few years I have always come back to Cornell feeling more confident because of the Penguins camp.”
D’Agostino plays an important role for the Big Red power-play, as he is usually the center of attention at the top of the offensive zone. He led Cornell with six power-play goals last season as a junior.
“I usually stand back at the blue line, as I am the release guy from up top,” D’Agostino said. “When they get it over to me I try to get it back over to the right side of the ice. I just try and roam around the blue line, and look for a lane to shoot towards the net.”
Although his offensive abilities are continuing to improve, D’Agostino is also very responsible in the defensive zone.
“My first priority is to obviously keep the puck out of our net, but I try to play a solid game all the way out,” he said. “I like to move the puck and jump in on the rush with the forwards to create more offensive opportunities. I’m not going to try and make too many high risk plays in the offensive zone because my first job is to keep the puck out of our net.”
Cornell appears to be out of the NCAA tournament picture unless they can win the ECAC tournament, but that was still something D’Agostino and his teammates are shooting for. If Cornell can make that jump it will be because of leaders on the team like him stepping up.
Either way, at the end of the season he could be an interesting addition in the Penguins farm system for the stretch run, or he could even possibly be added to the Penguins roster to add some depth to the line up.
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