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As unfortunate as it is, sending Matt Coronato to the AHL is the right call

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
3 months ago
As much fun as the debut of Connor Zary was, the NHL isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. And unfortunately for Matt Coronato, the boat has been floating upstream against some pretty tough currents.
After a very strong performance in the preseason, scoring a point per game with some highlight reel goals, including a snipe from the far circle on the power play, the expectations for Coronato were high. That’s not to say they were above and beyond, but considering how well he played in his first NHL game last season, along with the excellent showcases before regular season play began, there was a fair amount of hype around him being a staple of this slightly revamped Calgary Flames roster.
Unfortunately, though, Coronato has been on the receiving end of some tough shooting luck, and his defense hasn’t been as impressive as head coach Ryan Huska would probably like it to be, which resulted in him being sent down to the Calgary Wranglers of the AHL.
Having the start like the Flames have had and seeing Coronato sent down to the AHL is a little bit demoralizing. The star prospect, who was expected to come in and help this offense move forward as a unit with his speed and his blistering shot, didn’t do that, and now he has been “demoted.” And it’s not hard to see why, whether you’re looking at his box score number (10 games played, 1 goal, 1 assist, and even though I’m not a fan of this stat, a minus-9) or his analytics like the chart below via Evolving-Hockey:
As bad as those numbers look, especially that goals for per 60 (GF/60) bar, the good news is that Coronato has taken advantage of his time in the AHL so far.
Although it has only been four games with the Wranglers, Coronato has been taking advantage of his time, registering four points in four games (3G, 1A). His first goal in the AHL came in his first game, and it was a beauty.
His other two goals came in a big 8-2 win against the San Diego Gulls. Here is the first:
And here is the second:
Although Coronato going down to the AHL might have been a bit of a punch to the gut in the moment, it’s good to see that he’s thriving in the minutes that he is getting at that level. There’s no doubt that the sharpshooting winger can be a force in the NHL, but development isn’t a linear path by any means. Taking a step back so you can take two steps forward is ideal, and considering where the Flames sit in the standings, it’s not the worst decision to be patient and let Coronato figure things out and gain confidence while doing so.

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