The Calgary Flames are trying their best to keep themselves in the playoff race. Whether they are able to string together wins at the most critical point of their season to edge out both the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators remains to be known, but the team isn’t going away without a battle.
One way they can get some reinforcements is with an injection of a rising star named Matt Coronato. After his NCAA came to a heartbreaking close, the next course of action for the Flames is to put ink to paper and get Coronato signed to his entry-level contract.
Assuming Coronato does end up signing and is slotted into the lineup, who would make the most sense for him to lineup with? We asked, you answered.
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Get Coronato to Calgary
The first order of business of course is to get the contract in place. At the time of publishing, that has yet to happen but it could be imminent. After that, the Flames only have a small number of games left in their schedule to get the budding prospect into the lineup. If or when all of the business is handled, Coronato slots in as a right-shooting winger with finishing talent, something that could legitimately be a difference for the final few games for Calgary.
Theorising lines for Coronato would be tough overall since the Flames are still experimenting with their lines 74 games into the season. Instead, the focus of the poll was to find someone to work as a duo with Coronato—somewhat paralleling Darryl Sutter’s philosophy of forward pairs.
Some options for Coronato could be Mikael Backlund, Nazem Kadri, Jonathan Huberdeau, or Jakob Pelletier. Each of these four players have merit as potential to be perfect linemates for Coronato to make his NHL debut with. It was a tight poll this week—let’s break it down further.
Forming a duo with Huberdeau
Everyone in the league knows Huberdeau has had a tough season. He’s struggled to find his footing and his decline in points scored is astronomical. Being one of the league’s best playmakers, maybe putting him with one of the most exciting young scorers in Calgary’s prospect system could be just the thing he needs to get going.
Huberdeau has shown that he can take a young player under his wing as he helped Pelletier transition into the NHL too. When that happened earlier in the season, the on-ice results were evident—their line was genuinely good. There’s no reason to think that Huberdeau can’t play that role of a mentor all over again and get another exciting prospect up to speed and making an immediate impact
It could be a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Flying under Backlund’s wing
Death, taxes, and Mikael Backlund being everyone’s perfect mentor. Throughout his 900 career NHL games, Backlund has been relied on time and time again to take a young player under his wing and guiding them. None have been as prolific as Backlund’s time with Matthew Tkachuk, especially during the years with Michael Frolik and the famed 3M line.
Not to mention that Backlund was a huge part of Andrew Mangiapane’s ascent too, among other players. Backlund’s resume of being the guy to put young, promising prospects with is impressive and he could be that guy once again.
Playing with one of the most underrated two-way forwards in the league, Coronato can afford to take risks cause there will 100% be someone defensively responsible to cover, and it can also help Coronato learn to carve out a defensive role as well. That’s something that the Flames could utilise heavily as they play their final games of the year.
Making an NHL debut with Backlund is your centre is easily as good as it gets.
Putting the youth together
The Flames are finally, finally—fi-nal-ly—playing their young players more often. Pelletier, Walker Duehr, Adam Ruzicka—they’re all rotating in and out of the lineup, but the fact of the matter is for the current coaching system, this is genuine progress for injecting youth into the lineup.
If Coronato joins the fray, he might be another player to rotate in and out, and that might mean the only spot for him could be on a line with Pelletier—or Duehr, Ruzicka, just the fourth line to make it easy. That said, it isn’t necessarily about putting him on the fourth line with older players like Milan Lucic or Trevor Lewis. This option was more about making sure there is a line of young players who command the ice time and tilt the pace of play in Calgary’s favour when they’re on the ice.
Pelletier makes the most sense at a high level since it still affords Sutter the option of keeping Lewis in the lineup for that added defensive role and responsibility. This would be a fun option too as it’s a line that represents Calgary’s future, whether as a line that sticks or as a players who will still make huge impacts for the Flames for years to come, having a line of Pelletier and Coronato is just pure hope for what’s next.
Connecting with Kadri
The option of having Coronato with Kadri was the least popular in the poll. The other options are more enticing and have bigger draws, but there is a realistic chance that Kadri would be the best fit. Both players like to shoot and both know how to score. If the Flames put these two together, it’s a line with a lot of scoring power and can be menacing to play against.
This option kind of represents a role where Coronato is on the third line, but it makes Calgary’s bottom-six really effective. Given the share of minutes between lines in Calgary isn’t that drastic anyway, it might actually give Coronato more minutes to make an impact.
What you had to say
Here are some replies on who Coronato should play with:
Would be hesitant splitting up Lindy and Toffoli though
Coleman – Backlund – Coronato
Huberdeau – Ruzicka – Dube
Mangiapane – Lindholm – Toffoli
Pelletier – Kadri – Duehr
Backs is always a great player to get kids into the NHL.
Come to Calgary, Coronato
Getting Coronato signed with Calgary would be a glimmer of hope that the Flames desperately need. It gives them hope that a playoff push can really come to fruition as signing Coronato and getting him into mission critical games right now means the Flames are both serious about getting into the playoffs and serious about their commitment to Coronato and his development.
It also means the Flames will likely have one more roster spot taken care of for the coming seasons that won’t go to older veterans. Having more NHL-ready youth that can force their way into the lineup is another aspect the Flames can’t afford to botch again. No one wants to see another Matthew Phillips situation happen again for Calgary.
And lastly, Coronato is just good. He deserves a shot at the NHL and there’s no better time than now. Get him into the system and let him show what he can do.
Who would you want to see play alongside Coronato? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @wincolumnCGY.
Photo by Annabel Banks/gocrimson.com.