Matthew Coronato is the top prospect on FlamesNation’s 2021 list.
Last month, eight FlamesNation contributors submitted individual “Top 20” lists ranking the Calgary Flames prospects who, in their eyes, hold the most value. Later this week, we’ll publish each of our own ranking methodologies to further illustrate what factors went into creating this list.
Half of our panelists ranked Coronato in the No. 1 spot. Three others slotted him at No. 2. Only one holdout—I’m looking at you, Craig—had Coronato rounding out the top three.
It’s easy to see why Coronato rates so well in the eyes of our contributors. He just wrapped up a record-breaking USHL career and has offence in his DNA, combining his fantastic shot with superb hockey IQ to offer a tantalizing package of attributes for a scoring forward.
Born Nov. 14, 2002 (age 18) in Greenlawn, New York
5’10,” 183 pounds
Drafted in the first round (13th overall) by CGY in 2021
Coronato may not be the biggest player but he’s certainly a big-time scorer who broke two major team records while playing with the USHL’s Chicago Steel in 2020–21. He scored 48 goals in 51 games, the most ever by a Steel player and the second-highest single-season mark in the USHL since 1994.
Along the way, Coronato also set Chicago’s franchise record for goals in a USHL career. He’s not particularly close to anybody below him on the list, either.
Not only does Matthew Coronato hold the Chicago Steel record for most goals in a USHL career… he's first by a mile. pic.twitter.com/sHQXiFeqTO
— Mike Gould (@miketgould) September 7, 2021
No matter where he’s played during his career, Coronato has ranked among the goal-scoring leaders on his team. He ranked fourth on his Connecticut prep school team in 2018–19 with 15 goals in 30 games; prior to that, Coronato scored 19 goals and 43 points in just 22 games in 2017–18 with the U-16 AAA Long Island Gulls.
As a USHL rookie in 2019–20, Coronato skated in Chicago’s top six despite being a year or two younger than the team’s other main offensive weapons. Nevertheless, he tied Owen Power for sixth on the team with 40 points in 45 games and placed fifth with 18 goals.
Among USHL players in their draft-minus-one seasons, Coronato’s 0.89 points per game in 2019–20 ranked behind only Matty Beniers, Matthew Knies, and Power. His 18 goals led all players in his age category, as did his 29 even-strength primary points (according to Pick224).
In 2020–21, Coronato scored twice as many goals as any other first-time draft-eligible USHL player (although Cole Sillinger, second with 24 goals, played 31 games—20 fewer than Coronato’s 51). He took a whopping 191 shots, 61 more than second-place Hunter Strand (who also played 51 games).
Yes, Coronato’s production in 2020–21 was likely a little unsustainable. He converted on 25.13% of his shots, ranking behind only Red Savage and Josh Doan for players drafted in 2021.
That said, the Steel improved in all areas of the ice during Coronato’s shifts last season. With him on the ice at 5-on-5, Chicago outscored its opposition 66 to 33; without him, the Steel scored 113 goals but allowed 104.
Coronato’s willingness to drive the net and occupy the dirty areas of the offensive zone earned him the nickname “the Bison” from Steel play-by-play commentator Mark Citron. Perhaps his heavy, fluid shot could someday earn him a moniker similar to “the Whip.”
Paul Zuk from Smaht Scouting described Coronato as a hard-working and talented player who “showed great strides” in becoming a more explosive, dynamic skater last season.
The Calgary Flames selected one of the most consistent and arguably my favourite player in the Draft when they called Chicago Steel forward Matthew Coronato’s name at last month’s NHL Draft. Coronato built up his draft stock with a ridiculously strong season, one in which he exploded for 48 goals and 85 points in 51 total games. He was also named USHL Forward of the Year for his incredible efforts.
Perhaps the most impressive attribute of Coronato’s game is his offence. Points aside, he thrives with the puck on his stick and can craft high danger scoring opportunities nearly every time his skates touch the ice. Consistency is also a major plus, as Coronato never went more than two games in a row without registering a point.
Coronato also benefits immensely from his insane work ethic. Rarely do you see him take a shift off, nor do you catch him being lackadaisical on the ice. It’s hard to imagine Flames fans not liking a player who will give you a strong 60 minutes night in and night out. To me, his game is reminiscent of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel. Both players play an extremely effective 200ft game, can produce in the offensive zone on a consistent basis, and rarely seem off of their A-game.
Expectations for 2021–22
Coronato has committed to Harvard University and will make his Ivy League debut this season.
Harvard’s 2021–22 team looks to be strong, with fellow NHL prospects John Farinacci, Sean Farrell, Nick Abruzzese, Alex Laferriere, Henry Thrun, and Ian Moore set to suit up for the Crimson.
Even with all this competition, it’s not out of the question for Coronato to occupy a role in the top six—or even on the top line—as an NCAA rookie. It remains to be seen for how long he’ll stay at Harvard but the Flames retain his exclusive NHL signing rights until Aug. 15, 2025.
2021 FlamesNation Prospect Rankings
The no-votes | On the bubble | #20 Ilya Solovyov | #19 Cole Huckins | #18 Rory Kerins | #17 Johannes Kinnvall | #16 Martin Pospisil | #15 Yan Kuznetsov | #14 Emil Heineman | #13 William Strömgren | #12 Dan Vladar | #11 Emilio Pettersen | #10 Glenn Gawdin | #9 Jeremie Poirier | #8 Ryan Francis | #7 Connor Mackey | #6 Adam Ruzicka | #5 Matthew Phillips | #4 Dustin Wolf | #3 Jakob Pelletier | #2 Connor Zary