The Calgary Flames have just one prospect playing at this year’s make-up World Juniors tournament, but he is turning heads. Matt Coronato, the Flames’ first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, has become one of the most important pieces of Team USA’s forward group.
After last night’s games, Coronato leads the Americans in scoring with four goals and two assists in four games, shares the tournament lead in shots on goal with 19, all despite playing on the USA’s second line and second power play unit with an average of just 16:00 TOI per night.
Last night, he played just 15:45 and managed two goals, three shots, and a plus-two rating in USA’s 3–2 win over a strong Swedish team. This tournament may not have as many big name stars as the original one that was postponed last winter, but it still features some of the absolute best U-20 players in the world, and Coronato is standing out in a big way.
After last night’s big win over Sweden, Coronato was named Team USA’s Player of the Game.
What Coronato is really putting on display this tournament is his goal scoring talent. Drafted for his ability to put the puck in the net at an extremely high frequency, he is showing that he can score at any level and against any competition.
Coronato’s WJC goals so far
The Flames drafted him following a 48-goal season in the USHL, and he just finished his freshman season at Harvard in the NCAA with 18 goals in 34 games. All four of his goals in this tournament have looked starkly different, and highlight how diverse his scoring talent is.
This first goal sees Coronato take the puck off a Sweden turnover and immediately take it to the goal mouth for a jam-in play. He recognizes that he doesn’t have a lot of time and drives to the net as soon as the puck is on his stick.
His second goal comes off a wicked one-timer where Coronato beats Jesper Wallstedt clean with his NHL-calibre shot.
Go back one game to the USA’s match against Austria, and Coronato scores another gorgeous goal, once again in a completely different way.
Coronato displays elite level patience and hockey IQ to wait out the goalie and deposit the puck into the top corner of the wide open net.
And finally, his first goal of the tournament that came in the USA’s game against Switzerland was a tip-in from a long range point shot.
In last night’s broadcast, the TSN panel spent an entire segment talking about Coronato and his toolkit, specifically his compete level and work ethic on every single shift. He’s getting noticed for more than just his elite goal scoring talent, but also the way he plays the game.
The Flames look to have drafted an absolute gem in Coronato. As a right-shot right winger, he fills a desperate need in the organizational depth chart, and it’s entirely possible that he plays NHL games this season. If he continues to progress the way he has at Harvard next year, he could sign after the NCAA calendar wraps up and join the Flames for the homestretch of the regular season and the playoffs.
Buckle up. Coronato looks like he could be special.