The 2023 Draft Lottery which will decide the fate of Connor Bedard and the lowly teams at the bottom of the NHL standings is nearly upon us.
This past NHL season saw a number of teams tank aggressively in the hopes of winning the first overall pick. But whoever ends up with pick #2 won’t be doing too bad as a consolation. Projections point toward Adam Fantilli being that second pick, and any other year there is a very good chance he would likely go first overall.
Who is Adam Fantilli?
|Adam Fantilli||C||Left||6’2″||187 lbs|
Fantilli’s on-ice production
|2018–19||D-4||GTHL U16||Toronto Red Wings U16 AAA||32||26||15||41|
|2019–20||D-3||GTHL U16||Toronto Jr. Canadiens U16 AAA||2||2||1||3|
|EHF 18U Elite||Top Gun/NE Prep 18U AAA||2||2||1||3|
|USHS-Prep||Kimball Union Academy||26||18||18||36|
|2022–23||D+0||NCAA||Univ. of Michigan||36||30||35||65|
Fantilli was born on October 12, 2004. This makes him one of the older players available at this year’s draft as he missed the deadline to be eligible in the 2022 Draft by just under one month.
Despite being born in Canada and being drafted 18th overall in the 2020 OHL Draft by the Saginaw Spirit, he has spent the last few years playing hockey in the United States.
Before he was drafted in the OHL he had already signed with the Chicago Steel of the USHL who he ended up playing with for two seasons.
In 2021 Fantilli was named to the USHL All-Rookie Second Team. Which he followed up by helping the Chicago Steel win the Clark Cup. He was even named the 2021 USHL Clark Cup MVP after he scored five points in the Clark Cup Final against the Fargo Force.
Fantilli once again suited up for the Steel in 2022 but despite having a significantly greater points total in the season, going as far as doubling his previous stat line with only five additional games played. The Steel did not find as much playoff success. He was still named to the USHL First All-Star Team.
Fantilli has also represented Canada at the World Junior Championships at both the U18 and U20 Level. He won gold as a member of the 2023 U20 Mens Team.
Most recently, Fantilli has just completed his Freshman season with the University of Michigan. Fantilli had a truly incredible first year in the NCAA. Scoring a total of 65 points. Jack Eichel and Kyle Connor are the only two other Freshman since 2002 to score more points in their rookie season (71 points). If you look at his goals alone, only Kyle Connor has scored more in their freshman season since 2002.
Fantilli notably won the Hobey Baker Award for Top Collegiate Player in his one season with the Wolverines.
Fantilli has all the tools you should be looking for in a centre. He’s big, he’s a playmaker, he’s got a strong hockey IQ, he’s accurate, he’s a very strong skater, and he’s got all the makings to be one of the NHL’s best future power forwards.
The offence in Michigan this season worked best when it was run through him. He’s able to score from distance and up close in physically demanding situations.
His elite vision on the ice has allowed him to also lead the play and setup his teammates for consistent success.
Fantilli’s high hockey IQ paired with his skating, puckhandling, and physicality has also helped him to easily dissect opposing defences across the NCAA.
Fantilli’s defence might not be as strong as his offence but he still projects to be one of the stronger two-way forwards in this year’s draft. His strong skills with the stick and his high IQ are very powerful tools that he uses to isolate and win defensive battles.
In most defensive situations this season he fell to the wings, and it will be interesting to see how his defensive game changes should he start playing a more traditional centre role in the NHL.
Fantilli’s areas of improvement
Fantilli has shown to have a pretty complete offensive game for his age. But he could still continue to work on his playmaking skills. He sometimes struggles to make the right play when he is the one entering the zone with the puck, and he could also improve his shot selection sometimes.
While his skating is also quite impressive he does still have some work to improve his speed. With that in mind he could also work to learn how to better maintain speed as he often slows himself down.
His defence is where he could improve the most. He projects to be a top line centre but in order for him to fully take on that role in the NHL he will need more experience defending in that position.
Fantilli has the potential to be one of the best power forwards in the NHL on the level of Nathan MacKinnon, Aleksander Barkov, and Anze Kopitar.
His career up to this point has also drawn a lot of comparison to that of Jack Eichel.
Fit with the Flames
The chances of Fantilli ending up in Calgary are almost zero with him seemingly a lock to get picked second overall. But he would fit in very nicely with the Flames if a miracle were to happen. His size and physicality would mesh will with the Darryl Sutter style hockey the Flames still look likely to be using next season.
With Elias Lindholm, and Mikael Backlund’s futures on the team also currently in question, Fantilli would patch up the hole left by either of those players pretty much immediately.
It’s also worth noting that Matthew Coronato played with Fantilli on the Clark Cup winning 2021 Chicago Steel. So there is a chance those two would already have some pre-existing chemistry, and there skillsets would fit very well on a line together.
At the end of the day. This draft is stacked, and while whoever gets the second overall pick might be disappointed they aren’t getting Bedard they should be very happy they are still getting Fantilli.
In almost any other draft Fantilli would have been the odds on pick for first overall selection. While he isn’t Connor Bedard, it doesn’t seem too farfetched that he’ll end up as the Ovechkin to Bedard’s Crosby,
Projection: Franchise Power Forward, Hall of Fame
All TWC 2023 NHL Draft Profiles
Check out more of our individual player profiles of selected 2023 NHL Draft prospects:
Connor Bedard | Matvei Michkov | Adam Fantilli | Leo Carlsson | Zach Benson | Andrew Cristall | Oliver Moore | Will Smith | Ryan Leonard | Eduard Sale | Colby Barlow | Axel Sandin Pellikka | Dalibor Dvorsky | Brayden Yager | David Reinbacher | Nate Danielson | Riley Heidt | Matthew Wood | Quentin Musty | Mikhail Gulyayev | Calum Ritchie | Gabe Perrault | Jayden Perron | Ethan Gauthier | Dmitri Simashev | Samuel Honzek | Lukas Dragicevic | William Whitelaw
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