Over the past few weeks, The Win Column has ranked the Calgary Flames’ best prospects in advance of the 2022 NHL Draft. Next up in our prospect rankings is the third ranked prospect: Matthew Coronato.
Coronato was unanimously ranked as the third best prospect in the Calgary Flames system by our writers. He is also our highest ranking prospect from the 2021 draft.
In the 2021 NHL Draft Coronato, was selected with the 13th overall pick. The Flames have had this pick in the draft a number of times, and in the past it was used to select Sven Baertschi (2011), Derek Morris (1996), Dan Quinn (1983), and Denis Cyr (1980). At 13th overall Coronato is also the earliest draft pick the Flames have had since they selected Matthew Tkachuk with the 6th overall pick in 2016.
Coronato was drafted after a 48-goal, 85-point season through 51 games with the USHL’s Chicago Steel. This total nearly broke the USHL’s goal scoring record of 54 points which is currently held by Kevin Roy. The forward had an astounding +37 over the course of the regular season in his draft year and he also got nine goals and 13 points in only eight playoff games, where he also helped the Steel to win the USHL’s Clark Cup.
During his time with the Steel he also became the franchise’s record holder for most goals scored in a USHL career, and he also holds the title of having the most goals scored in a USHL season by a first year draft-eligible player since Thomas Vanek in 2002.
With that in mind it’s worth noting how impressive the USHL has become as a developmental league over the years. Auston Matthews, Jack Hughes, Jack Eichel, Cole Caufield, Dylan Larkin, Brock Boeser, Jake Guentzel, Kyle Connor, Clayton Keller, as well as both Matthew Tkachuk and Brady Tkachuk played in the USHL, so it’s not like he had weak competition in achieving what he did in this league.
Following the draft Coronato then began his first year at Harvard University, where he led the Crimson once again in points by the end of the season with 36 points in 34 games.
Coronato’s strengths and weaknesses
Coronato has been described as a pure goal scorer, and it’s clear to see why given how dominant he was in the USHL. He’s arguably the Flames best offensive prospect, and he’s also fast and intelligent. He is also very versatile, and was deployed in a high range of different situations throughout his freshman year. At Harvard, Coronato spent a lot of time on the first penalty kill unit, as well as the second and eventually first power play unit.
Many Flames fans have compared him to Johnny Gaudreau since he was drafted, and unfortunately that doesn’t just stop at Coronato’s strengths. Coronato is listed as being only 5’10” and 183 lbs, which does put him on the smaller side of the spectrum in the NHL. This might have been one of the main reasons he wasn’t selected for the 2022 Team USA Olympic team. Coronato’s size is definitely his greatest concern going forward, but with enough skill like Gaudreau he should hopefully be able to overcome it.
Coronato’s on-ice Results
Coronato knows how to put the puck in the net. His second year with the Steel was nothing short of incredible, and while he saw a dip in production during his first year at Harvard he was still two points above a point per game. Coronato also spent most of his freshman year playing on the second line, with only the occasional opportunity to play on the first line. With more ice-time next season as some of his fellow teammates will have either taken the leap into the NHL or graduated, who knows what Coronato will be able to do.
He also got the chance to elevate his role during February, when his teammates Nick Abruzzese, and Sean Farrell left to play in the the Olympics.
For his hard work, Coronato was rewarded by being named to the NCAA’s (ECAC) All-Rookie Team in his freshman campaign.
It’s also worth pointing out that Coronato was a member of the 2022 Team USA World Juniors team but due to that tournament being cancelled we weren’t really able to get much of an idea of his level of play on such a large stage. Hopefully when the tournament returns later this summer, Coronato is still on the roster and we get to see him play.
Coronato’s next steps
Coronato has already decided to continue playing Harvard for at least one more season, which might make some Flames fans concerned due to our NCAA prospect related trauma thanks to Adam Fox. However, if he is able to keep up this level of production and also improve his game, I think it’s fairly likely that the Flames will try to bring him onto the main squad as early as next offseason.
The risk of letting him play out his entire college tenure is still there, but considering that Coronato will likely be one of our most valuable and NHL ready prospects in a year, I don’t see why the Flames don’t secure his future as soon as they can.
The Flames have struggled over the last decade to fill the hole at the right wing and Coronato is definitely a potential answer to at least part of that problem. Additionally if the Flames are to lose Johnny Gaudreau in the next couple of weeks during free agency the Flames will be in desperate need of goal scoring and if there was one prospect in our system who could address that it’s Coronato.