The top prospect of the Calgary Flames is heading back to school. 2021 first-rounder Matt Coronato has reportedly informed the Flames that he’s returning to Harvard University for his sophomore season, per a report from Sportsnet.
Selected 13th overall in last year’s NHL Draft, Coronato was a goal-scoring stalwart for the USHL’s powerhouse Chicago Steel. He transitioned to the NCAA this season, playing with Harvard as a freshman. He had a bit of a slow start to the season as he learned the college game and had his season disrupted by a trip to Team USA’s World Junior selection camp and then the subsequent disrupted tournament. His game found a new level in February after teammates Nick Abruzzese and Sean Farrell went to play for the United States at the Olympics, after which Coronato emerged from his scoring cocoon and became Harvard’s most consistent offensive player.
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Coronato ended up leading Harvard in scoring with 18 goals and 36 points as a freshman, and he was tied for 35th in the nation in points. Among under-20 players, he was tied for seventh in the country for points and he was tied for third among all freshmen. With Harvard returning most of their team from this season, Coronato’s team has a very real shot at contending for a national championship after qualifying for the tournament this year and bowing out in their regional semi-final.
From a Flames perspective, too, it’s difficult to figure out where Coronato would’ve fit in on either the Flames or Stockton Heat rosters. The Flames have cap space, but head coach Darryl Sutter is trying to keep the club focused on capturing a high playoff seed as he tries to maximize their contention window this season. On the farm, even promising prospects like Connor Zary and Emilio Pettersen have been used in somewhat secondary roles as the Heat try to capture a high playoff seed and pursue a Calder Cup. In this context, it’s easier for the Flames and Coronato for him to go back for another year of college, as his development will progress and his future role with the Flames (or the Heat) will be much clearer in the spring of 2023.
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And besides: most high-end college players who head to Harvard tend to only stay for two or three seasons anyway. Coronato seems to be right on track given that framing.

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