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2021 NHL Draft: Matthew Coronato works hard

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The Chicago Steel forward is a late-bloomer that should be seen as a first-rounder.

USHL Fall Classic - Day 2 Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Sometimes, watching a player that is visibly working extremely hard is enough to convince most that he will be a capable high-level player as he progresses through the professional game. Sometimes that’s the exactly correct assessment and enough for a team to take a player in the first round.

Well, winger Matthew Coronato is certainly one of those players heading into the 2021 NHL Draft. A product of the heralded Chicago Steel system that has seen increased representation in each year’s draft, Coronato is a tenacious winger that just looks like he’s giving so much damn effort every single shift.

It’s an increasingly important role to play on a team — a winger that can get into those nasty, dirty areas of the ice and clear the right amount of space to either score goals himself or get his linemates to snatch up scoring chances. Whether that archetype is seen as a complimentary player that doesn’t really need to be selected in the first round or a highly sought after talent, Coronato can certainly do that and has the ability to become one of those necessary players on a successful team.

Coronato is basically your top-end complimentary winger but that has all the offensive tools to actually contribute instead of the usual forecheckers that have been cursed with hands of stone.

Pre-Draft Rankings

#9 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)

#32 by Elite Prospects

#17 by Scott Wheeler/The Athletic

#33 by Dobber Prospects

#21 by TSN

What Scouts Are Saying

There’s no questioning Coronato’s effort level or his ability to make something happen in the home-plate area. He’s a determined, feisty player with the small-area skill package needed to play that kind of game. He’s also got rare spatial awareness which helps him understand where he is in relation to pressure and play off of it. And then he’s got a hard, quick release which rattles off of the heel of his blade and great feel around the net. The 57 goals in 59 games (in the USHL regular season and playoffs) are one thing. That earned him USHL Forward of the Year and thrust him into the conversation as a potential front half of the first-round pick. But his game is also about detail, his forechecking presence, and his knack for getting to the right place at the right time. He’s also comfortable on both wings, which will serve him well up levels.

Here’s a USHL source on Coronato: “I think he’s a first-round draft pick. I thought he should have been an A-rated player before. Coronato’s a great skater but his separating trait is his compete level and work ethic. If you look at NHL team rosters, how many first-round draft picks are on an NHL roster and aren’t even in the top-six? Now, I think he can be a top-six player, but at worst he’s playing for you.”

-Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

Coronato’s ability to go from zero to hundred up ice with the puck is very evident. His skating looks significantly improved compared to last season, which is catching the eyes of many scouts. He does an adequate job of finding space to make a play, whether it is feeding a teammate a pass or finishing a shot. Defensively, his game is still a growing field, but he does a solid job of moving his feet, bringing a high motor, and being tenacious on pucks along the boards. He is currently setting USHL records this season with the Steel, notching 33 goals and 28 assists for 61 points in 35 games played.

-Clare McManus, Dobber Prospects

Coronato was one of the best players in the USHL and among the leaders in most offensive categories. Coronato is an undersized forward with a lot of skill who can make plays with pace. He’s a strong skater, not elite for a small guy, but good enough to be an NHL player. He’s able to create controlled entries with his speed and skill, and make tough plays to his teammates on the move. Coronato is also able to play the half-wall on the power play and find seams as well as finish from distance. He killed penalties for Chicago and works hard enough to advance levels and win battles despite his size. In a sentence, Coronato projects as a versatile second-line NHL winger.

-Corey Pronman, The Athletic

Matthew Coronato attacks the game in such a way that will impress just about every scout that watches him. He’s capable of playing in all areas of the ice, and can be trusted at 5v5, 5v4 and on the penalty kill. Coronato is definitely unafraid to go into the dirty areas of the ice, and more often than not, comes out of the scrum with possession of the puck. He is awesome in transition, and can move the puck freely and quickly through the neutral zone with ease. Also, he can pinpoint the perfect time for a breakout pass, and deliver it on the tape with little to no difficulty. When lined up as a center, Coronato is effective in the faceoff circle, as he’s won 53% of his faceoffs through March 15th, 2021.

Consistency is one aspect of Coronato’s game that is most notable, as he carried a 19 game point streak to open the 2020/21 season. Dating back to last year, his point streak totaled 28 games, which broke a previous USHL record. Coronato has also been held pointless in only five games this season, so he can be counted upon to bring the offense every night. It’s hard to imagine his consistency and offensive output wouldn’t light up the eyes of nearly every NHL scout.

-Smaht Scouting

Would He Fit In With The Wild?

Any strong forechecker is welcome in Minnesota and it really would be a nice thing to see, to have that physically-gifted winger in the prospect pool to eventually take advantage of in the coming years. Any offensive player that has come through the Wild organization has been needed in the defensive zone — no one-way players allowed — and Coronato projects as that type of player.

Could The Wild Get Him?

With the 21st and 25th overall picks on July 23, the Wild can potentially get Coronato with one of them. I’m going to assume that teams are going to love his work ethic and one of them will snatch him up before he’s made available to Minnesota, but you just never know how that first round will play out.

Is he worth a trade up, forfeiting a later pick and one of the firsts to get him a few picks earlier? It’s hard to say, but there will be talent there for them to select.

A Minnesota Relation

With his physicality and him not being a gigantic, punishing force, it’s kind of giving me Zach Parise vibes. He has a shot that can be utilized in tight spaces and at his peak, he was crushing defenders and keeping possession no matter what.

Coronato’s straight-ahead skating is in a similar vein to Parise and the two kind of seem tied together in some ghostly way.

2021 NHL Draft Board

  1. Owen Power — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  2. Matthew Beniers — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  3. Brandt Clarke — D, HC Nove Zamky (Slovenia)
  4. Luke Hughes — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  5. Dylan Guenther — LW/RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
  6. Simon Edvinsson — D, Frolunda (SHL)
  7. William Eklund — C/LW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
  8. Kent Johnson — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  9. Mason McTavish — C/W, Peterborough Petes/EHC Olten (OHL/Swiss)
  10. Carson Lambos — D, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
  11. Aatu Raty — C, Kärpät (Liiga)
  12. Chaz Lucius — C, USNTDP Juniors (USHL), U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)
  13. Cole Sillinger — C, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
  14. Sasha Pastujov — LW, U.S. National U18 team (USDP)
  15. Jesper Wallstedt — G, Luleå HF (SHL)
  16. Fabian Lysell — RW, Luleå HF (SHL)
  17. Matthew Coronato — LW, Chicago Steel (USHL)