The first round of the 2021 NHL Draft will take place on July 23. Following the results of the draft lottery, the Flames hold the 12th overall selection and will have a chance to add a high-end prospect to their organization.
Today, we’re taking a look at a right-handed winger who just put up one of the best seasons in USHL history: Matthew Coronato.
Coronato is a stocky 5’10” forward for the Chicago Steel who excels at scoring goals. He boasts a wicked shot and frequently asserts himself as a weapon from the circles, particularly on the man-advantage.
His willingness to force his way into high-danger areas in the offensive zone led Steel play-by-play commentator Mark Citron to dub Coronato “the Bison,” according to a Draft Prospects Hockey piece by Jonah Fleischer.
“Our announcer, Mark Citron, and our video guy, Johnny Lehmann, they come up with a bunch of nicknames,” said Coronato. “They came up with mine last year: ‘the Bison.’ Citron says it’s because I like to go hard to the net, ramming like a bison. There are also some other little things he says I do that are similar to a bison that I’m not too sure of, but it’s definitely funny and I love when he makes the bison growl.”
In that same article, Steel coach Brock Sheahan expounded upon Coronato’s various offensive talents:
“He’s got a really good shot, good release, he can shoot the puck a bunch of different ways, and he can one-time a puck… He’s also a good skater with great explosiveness and edge work, and he’s really hard on the puck. If he gets into traffic with possession, he comes out with it. He’s just a really smart player. When we first got him, he was a guy who would beat players one-on-one and he would beat guys down the ice, but he has shown he has the ability to add pieces to his game. He’s more of a playmaker now and has learned to use his teammates more and play at different paces.”
Paul Zuk compared Coronato to Jake Guentzel and praised his versatility in his profile for Smaht Scouting:
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.
Coronato led the entire USHL with 48 goals in 51 games this season. Erik Middendorf, also of Chicago, finished in a tie with Muskegon’s Daniil Gushchin for second… with 32 goals. Coronato scored 150% as many goals as his closest USHL peers.
Chicago was a truly fantastic team in 2020–21, posting a 38-11-5 record and boasting the USHL’s four leading point-getters (Coronato ranked second with 85 in 51 games). The Steel outscored their opponents 265-185 this season.
However, the Steel took a definite step backward in Coronato’s time on the bench. They scored 113 goals and allowed 104 without Coronato at even strength (according to Pick224), good for a goals-for rate of 52.07%; during Coronato’s shifts, that percentage increased to 66.67% as the Steel bested their opponents by a 66-33 margin.
Coronato ranked second in the USHL—behind Los Angeles Kings prospect Alex Laferriere—with 191 shots on goal during the 2020–21 season.
During the year, Coronato passed Robert Mastrosimone for the Steel franchise record for goals. Mastrosimone totalled 48 goals in his two USHL seasons; Coronato scored 48 in 2020–21, alone, and finished his USHL career with 66 goals in 96 games. He added nine goals in eight playoff games with the Steel this year.
Coronato’s 48-goal season ranks as the second-best offensive campaign by a USHL player in the last 27 years. Only Kevin Roy (54 goals in 2011–12) stands ahead of Coronato over the last quarter-century and he achieved that feat in 59 games, giving him a goals-per-game rate (0.915) worse than Coronato’s (0.941).
In 1994, Jason Blake—then of the Waterloo Black Hawks—posted 50 goals and 50 assists in 57 USHL games. Blake went on to become a five-time 20-goal scorer in the NHL, topping out at 40 with the New York Islanders in 2006–07.
Mark Mowers also scored 50 goals in that 1993–94 USHL season; he went on to score 62 points in 277 NHL games. Very few players have come close to matching Coronato’s output in the decades since, although long-time NHL sniper Thomas Vanek scored 46 goals in 53 USHL games with the Sioux Falls Stampede in 2001–02.
Coronato, a New York City product, has committed to Harvard University beginning with the 2021–22 season.
Availability and fit
The Flames’ depth chart has featured a gaping hole at right wing ever since Jarome Iginla departed for Pittsburgh in 2013. Elias Lindholm is a natural centre but has done an admirable job at filling that void over the last three seasons. Andrew Mangiapane shoots left but has often lined up (and thrived) on the right side.
Even so, adding a right-handed winger with the ability to play all three positions would do a lot to address the Flames’ needs up front. Coronato is an excellent finisher, something this Flames team desperately needs (particularly as Sean Monahan continues to battle his chronic injury problems).
Coronato is ranked at the following positions by these publications and scouting services:
McKeen’s Hockey — 13th
Future Considerations — 24th
Sportsnet (Sam Cosentino) — 21st
Dobber Prospects — 33rd
TSN (Bob McKenzie) — 21st
Draft Prospects Hockey — 19th
NHL Central Scouting (North American Skaters) — 9th
Recruit Scouting — 36th
EliteProspects.com — 32nd
Smaht Scouting — 33rd
2021 First Round Targets