It certainly seems like Matt Coronato has passed his audition
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike1 month ago
When training camp began for the Calgary Flames, you could be forgiven if you were pencilling Matt Coronato’s name onto your projected NHL roster or ordering a #39 sweater from the CGY Team Store. As a highly-touted draft pick, of course Coronato would be given every chance to make the team. But would he be ready for the challenges of the NHL?
With two games remaining in the exhibition calendar, he certainly seems ready.
Coronato has received an extended fall audition. He played all three games in Penticton, playing with a combination of Samuel Honzek, Parker Bell and Rory Kerins on the Flames’ top line. He had three points in three games and was one of the Flames’ best players, looking more and more composed as the tournament wore on.
Since NHL camp began, Coronato’s been under a bit of a microscope. As a right-shot, offensive-minded player, the likely thought process from outside the market was that he would help off-set the lost scoring touch of Tyler Toffoli.
The Flames have dressed Coronato in five pre-season games, the most of any of their players. (Because the Flames played two games simultaneously against Seattle, six games would be impossible.) In other words, between Penticton and the pre-season, the Flames have leaned on Coronato heavily to test his mettle.
He’s been given reliable linemates, but he’s performed well:
- Sept. 24 vs. Vancouver: with Dryden Hunt and Ben Jones; 3 goals, 1 assist, +5 in 14:08, 6.56 game score
- Sept. 25 at Seattle: with Yegor Sharangovich and Adam Ruzicka; 0 points, -1 in 21:16, -0.82 game score
- Sept. 27 at Winnipeg: with Andrew Mangiapane and Ruzicka; 0 points, even in 17:27, -0.10 game score
- Sept. 29 vs. Edmonton: with Dillon Dube and Nazem Kadri; 0 points, even in 14:01, -0.36 game score
- Oct. 2 vs. Winnipeg: with Sharangovich and Mikael Backlund; 1 goal, 2 assists, +1 in 17:18, 3.64 game score
Coronato’s played with both established NHLers and less established young players, and he’s generally showed well. Even in games where the Flames were on their heels quite a bit – we’re looking at you, Seattle – he managed to hold up his end of the bargain. And while his offensive output is from two big games, he’s been noticeable throughout the pre-season.
Coming out of Monday’s game, Coronato has played more hockey this fall than all but four players: Blues blueliner Scott Perunovich, Jets blueliner Ville Heinola, Flames teammate Noah Hanifin and Oilers blueliner Vincent Desharnais. That’s it. Add in his three game Penticton run, and that’s a lot of hockey.
“I feel good,” said Coronato after Monday’s game. “Like I said, I think every day just getting more and more comfortable. And I think, like, I feel good. Like I kinda said a couple days ago, when you’re with these guys and playing with this group, I think it’s easy at least for me to keep my energy up. It’s exciting to be here, so I’m having a lot of fun.”
Head coach Ryan Huska assessed Coronato’s performance following the win over Winnipeg.
“He wants to make a team, right?” said Huska. “If you watch him away from pucks when he doesn’t have it, how hard he works to get it back. That’s why he’s had success. He’s been like a dog on a bone and he is hunting things hard. We’ve talked about his shot before, too. He gets it away quickly and it’s hard. I’m assuming that goaltenders probably don’t know he can shoot like he can, yet, and that’ll change here shortly, but he’s done a really good job for himself.”
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