Shane Pinto has played left wing, right wing and center extensively in the last two seasons.

He's been assigned to be both the go-to shooter and the puck distributor on the power play in the United States Hockey League.

The forward from Franklin Square, N.Y., can excel in a fast-paced game with his strong skating ability or in a physical, grind-it-out game with his 6-foot-2, 188-pound frame.

Pinto may not be the most explosive player available in the 2019 NHL Draft, but the soon-to-be UND freshman has proven he can excel in a number of different roles -- offensively and defensively -- on several different teams.

That's why he'll likely be the first UND player picked this weekend in Vancouver's Rogers Center and why an NHL scout told the Herald that he'll probably be the rookie to watch for the Fighting Hawks this fall.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

"He's a big, strong kid," the NHL scout said. "He's a good skater, good hands, quick release. He's good around the net. I think he's going to score goals for UND by getting open on the power play, quick catch and shoot. He's a really good net-front guy. I think he will play center. He's really good on faceoffs. He's responsible defensively. I think he's going to be a good player for them. He's a serious, committed player with a good personality. I think, out of the group they're bringing in, he's the guy."

Pinto could sneak into the late first round of the draft Friday night, but will more than likely go early Saturday. Most mock drafts have him going in the second round.

Last month at the NHL Combine, Pinto interviewed with 28 of the 31 NHL teams.

Pinto will be in attendance with his parents, Catherine and Frank, his older sister, Brianna, his grandfather and 11 friends.

"I'm pretty anxious right now, I just kind of want to know where I'm going," Pinto said. "I've been thinking about it for the past month, ever since going to the Combine. But there's nothing I can control right now. It's all up to the teams. So, I'm trying not to think about it too much.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I'm just going to enjoy the moment."

UND coach Brad Berry hasn't decided yet whether Pinto will play center or wing at UND. His job could even change during the season.

"He will be a player who has very good offensive ability," Berry said. "He's very versatile. He can play center or wing. He has very good playmaking ability and has a knack for finding the back of the net. He has a scoring touch."

Pinto started last season with the Lincoln Stars, where he put up 17 goals and 32 points in 30 games. Then, he got traded to the Tri-City Storm, one of the best teams in the league, and he continued to score. Pinto had 11 goals and 27 points with the Storm.

With Lincoln, Pinto was taking one-timers on the power play. With Tri-City, he played in the high slot, where he was in charge of puck distribution.

"It's pretty difficult to play in the USHL and put up numbers in your first year in a hard and heavy league," Berry said. "He did that on two different teams."

Pinto will come to Grand Forks in July -- something he's looked forward to for a while.

"I'm so excited, oh my goodness," he said. "I just want to get going already."

Pinto has been following updates this summer as Ralph Engelstad Arena has been installing a new video screen.

"It's like an NHL arena," he said.

Pinto's versatility means that he's not penciled into any spot in the lineup this season. He's completely OK with that.

"Honestly, I'll do whatever it takes," he said. "Whatever they want me to play, I'll do it. I'm not going to worry whether it's top six or bottom six. I'm going to have an open mind. I'm going to try my best, I'm going to work hard and go from there."

SHANE PINTO

Position: Center.

Size: 6-2, 188.

Shoots: Right.

Hometown: Franklin Square, N.Y.

2018-19 team: Lincoln Stars/Tri-City Storm (USHL).

2018-19 stats: 56 games, 28 goals, 31 assists, 59 points.

2019-20 team: UND.

Herald draft projection: 2nd round.

Central Scouting rank: 28 (North American skaters).

UND coach Brad Berry says: "He will be a player who has very good offensive ability. He's very versatile. He can play center or wing. He has very good playmaking ability and has a knack for finding the back of the net. He has a scoring touch. It's pretty difficult to play in the USHL and put up numbers in your first year in a hard and heavy league. He did that on two different teams. I think he can play a 200-foot game."

An NHL scout says: "He's a big, strong kid. He's a good skater, good hands, quick release. He's good around the net. I think he's going to score goals for UND by getting open on the power play, quick catch and shoot. He's a really good net-front guy. I think he will play center. He's really good on faceoffs. He's responsible defensively. I think he's going to be a good player for them. He's a serious, committed player with a good personality. I think, out of the group they're bringing in, he's the guy."