Angelo Esposito’s story is hardly novel: Extraordinary success in Juniors, hype, a high draft pick, followed by injury, disappointment, and the journeyman’s life.
As a fan of his current team I’ve been hoping Angelo can turn things around. By most measures it appears he is doing just that.
It’s no surprise the Pittsburgh Penguins made him the #20 pick in the 2007 Draft: After two seasons with the Quebec Ramparts, Esposito had 177 points in 117 games. After two more seasons, his numbers remained impressive: 120 goals, 168 assists, 288 points, and a +77 rating in 208 games.
He was named QMJHL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2006 even though he was second in rookie scoring behind some nobody named Claude Giroux.
Less than a year after being drafted, the Penguins sent him to the Atlanta Thrashers as part of the deal to bring Marian Hossa to Pittsburgh. This put him with Atlanta’s AHL affiliate the Chicago Wolves. After two seasons, he was traded to the Florida Panthers, which put him with their new AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage. Then in January 2012, the Rampage and the Stars swapped underachievers, sending forward Ondrej Roman to San Antonio for Esposito.
Prior to coming to Texas, Esposito’s 86 AHL games were uninspired: just 5 goals and 17 assists.
However, since coming over from the Rampage, Esposito has dressed for 23 Stars games, putting up almost the same numbers in that time (4 goals, 14 assists).
Angelo got a slow start on the score sheet, putting up just three points in his first 12 games, but in those early games he was everywhere except on the score sheet, quickly winning over fans despite a lack of point production.
Since then, Esposito has been on a point-per-game pace, putting up 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in his last 11 games.
Not surprisingly—this being the AHL—Esposito has been doing it with a variety of line mates. He played a few games on the team’s top line with Matt Fraser and Travis Morin, but in the last handful of games he’s been put on different lines with two of the newest additions to the Stars, Michael Forney and Shawn Weller. In both cases, the third player on those lines was tough Stars forward and noted brawler Luke Gazdic.
Esposito’s non-stop hustle and gritty play, combined with some gifted playmaking skills, have made him an instant fan favorite here in Austin.
He’s an RFA at season’s end. Here’s to his continued good health and to hoping Dallas re-signs him this summer, because Esposito may have finally gotten his game back. And it’s a keeper.