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What could a Calgary Flames lineup look like with Matthew Coronato?

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Photo credit:Harvard Athletics
Jeff Middleton
8 months ago
After Calgary Flames fans spent some time worrying (understandably) about whether or not the team’s top prospect and 13th overall selection in the 2021 NHL Draft, Matthew Coronato, would sign after his sophomore season at Harvard University ended, it happened. General manager Brad Treliving managed to ink the prospect to an entry-level contract.
Now that it’s out of the way, we can focus on the fun part: exploring different fits for the young forward and which linemates might suit him best.
I want to throw a disclaimer out before I get started, and that’s that this is not scientific at all. It’s merely a fun exercise for me (and you) to discuss our ideas and why they may (or may not) work. So, that being said, let the fun commence.
First, it shouldn’t have to be said, but Coronato shouldn’t be in the bottom six (even though he most likely will be to start his NHL career just as Jakob Pelletier was). Moving to the NHL from college may be challenging, but giving him the opportunity with players that can help him succeed is a necessity at this point.
At this point, these are what the Flames’ forward lines look like:
Andrew Mangiapane – Elias Lindholm – Tyler Toffoli
Jonathan Huberdeau – Mikael Backlund – Blake Coleman
Nick Ritchie – Nazem Kadri – Dillon Dube
Milan Lucic – Trevor Lewis – Walker Duehr
I’m sure every individual fan wants to make their own adjustments to these lines. Personally, an insertion of Pelletier would be the first option, but nevertheless, that is not the focus here. We have what Darryl Sutter gives us.
So where does Coronato fit? What are some possible combinations?
Huberdeau, Backlund, and Coronato may be a really fun combination. All three of those players provide different things while being effective skaters. Huberdeau has had a rough season, as we all know, but playing with a young forward with a strong shot and an ability to create space for himself may earn him some more points in the box score. And Backlund has everything that is good for a young player. He’s a veteran with plenty of experience and is the perfect archetype of a player to help lead youngsters to the future.
A different but still interesting combination could be Coronato with Lindholm and Huberdeau. Lindholm–another player that could use a boost in the box score department–adds another potential scoring touch on that line while keeping the pass-first Huberdeau with him. Or, Sutter could play him with Backlund and Mangiapane or Lindholm and Mangiapane. There are plenty of fun combinations that could help not only Coronato but even the guys he’s playing with.
Realistically, though, he will be in the bottom six, so what could that look like?
At the very least, a duo of him and Walker Duehr could be fun. Duehr has been excellent since coming into the lineup, he has given a jolt of energy to the bottom six, and he also is a physical presence, allowing Coronato to feel relatively protected when he’s on the ice. Maybe adding Pelletier to the mix down there on a line full of youngsters might be interesting, especially if Coronato’s first game is against a team like the Anaheim Ducks or the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Flames are still in the playoff race, even though it continues to feel less and less likely that they will find a way to push the Winnipeg Jets out of that final wild-card spot. However, a player like Coronato, after some practice time with the team and adjusting to the tempo of the NHL, could be a useful thing to have even in a depth role. Whether or not Sutter decides to use him is the real question.

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