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Flyers Prospect Profile: Massimo Rizzo

Flyers' Massimo Rizzo (Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)
(Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Massimo Rizzo, 23, joined the Philadelphia Flyers due to a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2023. Daniel Brière made a deal with Don Waddell, sending David Kaše to the Hurricanes for Rizzo and a fifth-round pick at the 2025 NHL Entry Draft. On April 15th, 2024, Rizzo signed a 2yr/$1.85mil entry-level contract with the Flyers.

Brière fleeced Waddell. Kaše never laced his skates in Carolina, remaining in Czechia.

Waddell selected Rizzo at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in the seventh round. Rizzo was the captain of the Penticton Vees in 2018-2019. He is the only player from that Vees roster to ink an NHL contract. Rizzo did not lead Penticton in total points, goals, or assists during the regular season, but he did shine in the BCHL Playoffs. The Cowichan Valley Capitals ended the hunt for the 2019 Fred Page Cup.

Then, in 2020-2021, Rizzo did not compete in a heavily restricted BCHL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Officially, his final game in the BCHL was with the Coquitlam Express in 2019-2020. He set new regular-season highs with the Express, amassing 44 points (19G, 25A), including a personal best in goals scored, and helped Coquitlam sweep the Langley Rivermen before the postponement of the BCHL Playoffs. Rizzo passed on the 2020-2021 season, then committed to the University of Denver.

‘Bubble hockey’ was a strange period, and it greatly affected the evaluation of prospects.

Due to the travel restrictions, fewer eyes were on NHL Entry Draft eligible prospects. Prospects selected just before the pandemic were muddled. Rizzo was already a seventh-round selection in 2019, and if he was going to keep the attention of the NHL, he had to navigate away from the BCHL. Playing for the University of Denver kept Rizzo in the eye of scouts as he improved and accepted a leadership role as an alternate captain last season. Based on development and NHL trajectory alone, Brière won out.

Bobby Brink led the way for the University of Denver when Rizzo arrived. Rizzo accepted NCAA All-Rookie Team honors in 2021-2022 but became an NCAA Champion for the first time as Brink led the way. Brink offered his thoughts after Rizzo agreed to his entry-level contract with Philadelphia:

“I’m really happy for him [Rizzo]. He’s a good player and a good person. He’s obviously skilled and can make a difference offensively. You see his stats in college, and he has those stats for a reason. I think he’ll be a really good pro player.” – Bobby Brink; 4/17/2024

After Brink, Rizzo led the University of Denver in point production in 2022-2023 with 46 points (17G, 29A) as an NCAA First-Team all-star. Then, Rizzo became an NCAA Champion for the second time last season in a leadership role.

In the final stretch, Rizzo suffered a lower-body injury, and Nick Schultz further explained the situation at the Flyers Development Camp:

“He [Rizzo] had an injury at the later part of his season with Denver. He was dealing with a high ankle sprain; [he] played through it, came back, reinjured it, and then he obviously played in the championship, the Frozen Four. They won it. [He] came to Lehigh after that. He’s been back skating, he’s completely healthy and fine, but right now for development camp, to have him go through drills and practice, we want him to be ready for the start of the season. He should be out here with the forward group, now, so he’s just going to not do the practice sessions, and he won’t do the scrimmage. [We] just kind of have him around the camp and stuff, doing the forward group stuff, but not the practice or the game.” – Nick Schultz; 7/3/2024

Shorted by the high ankle sprain, Rizzo was a nominee for the 2024 Hobey Baker Award. He paced to set new NCAA personal bests, playing eight fewer games than in 2022-2023. Rizzo was the top playmaking forward at the University of Denver. Only Zeev Buium tallied more assists than Rizzo on the roster.

“I’m more of an offensive guy, probably more of a playmaker than a shooter. I like to find my teammates in different spots, be creative, have fun, and enjoy myself out there.” – Massimo Rizzo; 7/2/2024

Next season, Rizzo offers flexibility at C/LW with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Rizzo might not practice and play during the Flyers Training Camp and Flyers Preseason, but according to Schultz, that is the expectation emphasis on his health. On the Phantoms, Rizzo will compete for ice time against Olle Lycksell, Elliot Desnoyers, Oscar Eklind, and others.

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