Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames have mismanaged Jakob Pelletier and Matt Coronato

Jakob Pelletier and Matt Coronato have been some of the bright spots in this lacklustre Calgary Flames season. Even after having a poor training camp, Pelletier made sure that it was known across the organization: he was too good for the AHL. He then played some NHL games showing great promise. Although Coronato hasn’t played a single NHL game yet, him signing was still enough to generate a lot of hype. There was some worry that he might not sign so getting it done was super reassuring and just the anticipation of waiting for his first game has been exciting.

The Flames are currently in a tight playoff race which has all the headlines, but going under the radar is how they’ve mismanaged Pelletier and Coronato the past two weeks or so.

Lack of games played for the young guys

One of the easiest ways to look at how the Flames are mismanaging these two young players is looking at their games played in recent weeks. Yes, Coronato has been with the team for only a week and a half, but many other players that just signed out of college have already played in multiple NHL games. Coronato’s Harvard teammate, Sean Farrell, has played four games with the Montreal Canadiens and Akito Hirose, the undrafted college free agent signing for the Vancouver Canucks, has suited up for three games.

You could make the argument that these teams are officially eliminated and can afford to slot young players into their lineup, but Devon Levi has started three must-win games for the Buffalo Sabres and has been the reason those games have been close except for last night. There’s no real reason why Coronato should be sitting, especially since a year of his entry level contract will be burned off by season’s end regardless if he plays or not.

Moving on to Pelletier, the believed initial reasoning for him being scratched was that he wasn’t scoring and could afford to sit out for a few games, but it’s now been a lot more than a few games. March 20 was the last time Pelletier played a hockey game which is almost three weeks ago. At this point it’s tough to not think the only reason he is not playing is because of bias.

If the Flames have no plans to let Pelletier get in some games before the season ends, I think it would be in their best interest to send him down and let him focus on going on a playoff run with the Wranglers. Obviously, Pelletier is probably enjoying the pay raise and just being around an NHL team, but as an organization, the Flames should prioritize developing one of their top prospects and letting him gain experience.

Making the case for Pelletier and Coronato to play

Many fans want to see Milan Lucic and Nick Ritchie draw out of the lineup for Pelletier and Coronato to slot in, but the thing is that the Flames are in fact winning right now. They’re 5–1–0 in their last six games which includes their longest win streak of the season that lasted a measly four games.

So if the Flames are winning, what’s the point in changing the lineup? I will admit Lucic and Ritchie had a good game against the Anaheim Ducks, but other than that game they’ve been non-factors and if they are being a factor in the game, they’re likely being a liability. For example, in the most recent game against the Winnipeg Jets, both of them took offensive zone penalties which is highly unideal.

Both Pelletier and Coronato—especially Coronato—are likely very eager to slide into one of these high stake games. In theory, slotting in players who want to prove themselves should work out well when you considered that they’ll play their hardest since they want to be in the lineup the following game. Pelletier and Coronato will both bring aspects to the Flames that they need.

We’ve already seen that Pelletier has brought much needed speed, transition game, and enthusiasm to the team. He wasn’t scoring much, but he was getting very unlucky and with more playing time, that luck should turn around. Coronato could bring what the Flames have been missing most all season: a scoring touch. With his great shot, playmaking, and hardworking efforts, Coronato will not only be an offensive threat, but an all-around threat.

No offence to Lucic and Ritchie, but it shouldn’t be hard for Pelletier and Coronato to match their recent level of play, the youngsters have the potential to outperform them by lots, and could end up being game breakers for these final few games.

It’s time to commit to the future

Hopefully for these final three games we can see Jakob Pelletier and Matt Coronato slide into the Flames lineup. The Flames have no reason to keep Pelletier up if there’s no plan to play him and the Sabres are showing with Levi that you can trust a highly talented rookie straight out of college to play in must-win games.

Milan Lucic and Nick Ritchie have not been playing their best hockey and many are seeing no purpose in keeping out the two rookies over them. Pelletier and Coronato both bring some great skills that will help the Flames and might even make huge impacts in season deciding games.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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