Even from an untrained eye, one of the most noticeable players at the Capitals development camp last week was center David Vallorani.
The 5-foot-8, 181-pound center from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell was involved in nearly every goal in every scrimmage and on Monday the 22-year-old native of Hamilton, Ontario was rewarded with his first pro contract.
Vallorani and defenseman Scott Wietecha each signed contracts with the AHL Hershey Bears for the 2012-13 season, according to Bears president and general manager Doug Yingst.
Vallorani went undrafted four years ago, but recorded 10 goals and 19 assists in 38 games in his senior season for UMass-Lowell. In four years there he played every game and piled up 114 points 40 goals, 74 assists in 149 games. He graduated in May with a degree in business.
Because of his size, creativity and lack of interest from NHL teams, Vallorani has drawn comparisons to Lightning forward Marty St. Louis.
He doesnt look like a kid who lacks confidence, Capitals coach Adam Oates said. Hes a highly skilled player. It took Marty St. Louis a long time to make it to the NHL. He had to go to the minors and fight all the naysayers to earn his way. So it can happen.
Vallorani is more than willing to go that route, saying he simply wants a chance to continue his career as a hockey player.
St. Louis is definitely someone I look up to, he said. Hes a smaller player in the NHL and hes one of the best players in the NHL, so I model my game after him.
Vallorani has the ability to draw opposing players to him, then snap a pass to a linemate. Last week he centered a line with Riley Barber and Matt Bailey and the trio was one of the best lines in camp.
I try to do all the little things right, Vallorani said. Im a playmaker and I like to distribute the puck and create space for my linemates. I want to play at the highest level I can play. I just want an opportunity to show what I can do.
On Monday, Vallorani was given that chance.
Wietecha, 24, broke into the professional ranks in 2011, playing six games with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL. He spent all of last season with the ECHLs Chicago Express, posting 27 points 14 goals, 13 assists in 54 games.
The 6-1, 201-pound native of Wolverine Lake, Mich., Wietecha played four years at Ferris State University prior to turning pro. In 126 games, Wietecha recorded 51 points 12 goals, 39 assists and a plus-16 rating.