There’s a lot of needs that the Chicago Blackhawks have and a lot of needs that they could address in this year’s upcoming NHL Draft. Our wishlist for the NHL Draft already includes forwards in Mason McTavish, Chaz Lucius, Cole Sillinger and Jesper Wallstedt. Today we are looking at a familiar deficiency that the Blackhawks have in the prospect system: top-tier goal-scoring.
Today’s draft prospect on my wishlist is Chicago Steel standout Matthew Coronato.
Why He Fits
Other than the fact that the Blackhawks would have had very easy access to scout Coronato over the past two seasons, being a player with the prospect factory that is the Chicago Steel in the USHL, Coronato seemingly was making waves in the league on a nightly basis in 2021. Scoring 48 goals in 51 regular season games, the 5’10,” 185-pound winger was named the USHL’s Forward of the Year and has climbed the draft rankings across the board significantly as the season progressed. In his two USHL seasons with the Steel, Coronato has skated in 96 regular season games scoring 66 goals and tallying 125 points.
Coronato possesses something the Blackhawks farm system does not (at least, not in abundance): top-tier scoring capabilities. Not since Alex DeBrincat anyway, and he was a prospect in the Chicago system for about 15 minutes.
Coronato is now up to an eye-popping 39 goals and 71 points in 40 USHL games this season https://t.co/JuGmvCoTJb
— Derek Neumeier (@Derek_N_NHL) March 20, 2021
His ability to score at the junior level with the Steel last season was reminiscent of Cole Caufield’s run with the U.S. Development Program not too long ago, and Caufield’s start to his professional career has gone swimmingly so far. Not to say Coronato is the next Caufield, but with the ability to put the puck in the net at that rate, you’re going to garner serious attention.
— Chicago Steel (@ChicagoSteel) May 9, 2021
Chicago has a number of solid forward prospects in their system, but not one with the scoring talent Coronato brings to the table.
Like with the forwards mentioned in our wishlist series previously, having the ability to score and drive offense is a key factor, but you also have to be multi-faceted. Coronato’s goal-scoring ability stands out the most in his game, but his ability to win puck battles and see the game at an elite-level can help turn him into a solid top-six scoring threat at the professional rank.
• Future Considerations: 24th
• Dobber Prospects: 33rd
• TSN (Bob McKenzie): 21st
• NHL Central Scouting: 9th (North American Skaters)
• McKeen’s Hockey: 16th
• TSN (Craig Button): 11th
What The Experts Are Saying
Between the regular season and Clark Cup playoffs, Coronato had 57 goals and 98 points for the champion Steel. He was the forward of the year in the USHL and put together one of the best goal scoring seasons the league has seen in the Tier 1 era. You don’t put those numbers up without have a special amount of talent…Coronato has a heavy shot that gets on goalies in a hurry. His skating is solid, but not a standout trait. Coronato plays with great effort, too. He engages in puck battles, goes hard to the net when he has the lane and generally plays smart, reliable hockey in the defensive zone.
There’s no questioning Coronato’s effort level or his ability to make something happen in the home-plate area. He’s a determined, feisty player with the small-area skill package needed to play that kind of game. He’s also got rare spatial awareness which helps him understand where he is in relation to pressure and play off of it. And then he’s got a hard, quick release which rattles off of the heel of his blade and great feel around the net…His game is also about detail, his forechecking presence, and his knack for getting to the right place at the right time. He’s also comfortable on both wings, which will serve him well up levels.
Coronato was a dominant offensive force who blended top-end goal scoring, strong skating, and a physical approach similar to United States Hockey Hall of Fame forward John LeClair. He led the United States Hockey League with 48 goals in 51 games and the league in scoring in the playoffs with nine goals and 13 points in eight games.
Unlike the forwards mentioned previously in this wishlist series, there might be a consensus that Coronato would most definitely be available for the Blackhawks at the 11th overall pick. If Chicago wants to make a local splash at this July’s NHL Draft, they very well could go just down the road to Hoffman Estates and select Coronato as their next great goal-scorer in the organization.