When will Matt Coronato debut for the Calgary Flames?
Photo credit:Tim Austen/HHOF-IIHF Images
By Ryan Pike8 months ago
You could hear Calgary Flames fans loudly breathe a sigh of relief on Sunday evening when top prospect Matt Coronato signed his entry-level contract. By doing so, Coronato forgoes the final two years of college eligibility he had remaining and now he’ll report directly to the NHL club. But now that he’s put pen to paper, it’s probably time to ponder what reasonable expectations are for Coronato’s debut now that he’s Calgary-bound.
The NHL experience for 2019 first-round selection Jakob Pelletier seems a prudent place to start.
Pelletier was first recalled to the NHL roster on Jan. 7. He made his NHL debut on Jan. 21 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, two full weeks (and a few practice days) later. During the two weeks of waiting for his debut, the fanbase was wringing its hands and wondering when he’d get in. Pelletier had spent a season and a half in the Flames’ system with the Stockton Heat and Calgary Wranglers. He had 110 AHL regular season and playoff games on his resume before he ever hit the NHL roster. He still needed to get spend some time adjusting.
A few factors will likely influence how quickly Coronato works his way into game action.
First and foremost, the standings. The Flames remain mathematically alive in the playoffs, and are in a battle for their lives. While they’re in this battle, with a group of players that have been on the roster for the bulk of the season, don’t expect them to do a lot of tinkering. One reason is simple: they want to see if this group can get them in. Similarly, it’s a little unfair to throw a 20-year-old kid into such a stressful situation. The Flames really value Coronato as a player and asset, and they likely don’t want a fresh-faced kid to be in a situation where one mistake can cost the Flames a game that can cost them a playoff spot. As such, don’t expect to see Coronato in a game until the playoff math gets much simpler – on the positive or negative side.
Similarly, because the Flames really like and value Coronato, they want to set him up for success. So rather than throwing him into the fray cold, they likely want to give him some practices to get familiar with the team’s systems, his new teammates, and his placement within that system. Nobody benefits from throwing Coronato into the proverbial deep end, on a brand-new team, in the best league in the world, with teammates and linemates he’s barely skated with. He’ll get some time, and practice days, to get acclimated.
If we’re being reasonable, next week’s home games against Anaheim (Sunday) or Chicago (Tuesday) may be dates to keep an eye on for Coronato’s debut. But again, the playoff math will factor into the decision-making, as will how quickly Coronato is picking up the nuances of the system.
The Flames want to set up Coronato for success. Giving him a clear role, good linemates, and the time to get adjusted to the NHL are a few keys to doing that.
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