After Adam Fox was drafted 66th overall by the Flames in 2016, the organization was finally told the undersized but highly qualified defenseman would not be playing in Alberta, and would instead have a chance to play in his New York City. native.
The Flames ultimately had no choice but to trade him, as did the Carolina Hurricanes, setting the stage for what would culminate in a season with the Broadway Blueshirts that led to this year’s Norris Trophy. .
This time around, the Flames’ similarly sized Ivy Leaguer insists things will be different.
“I want to play in the NHL and I want to play for the Flames,” said Matthew Coronato, shortly after being selected 13th overall by the Flames. “I don’t know exactly how long it will take, but I really want to do it. I definitely don’t have a plan yet. I don’t have a definite plan to stay [at Harvard] for four years at all.
When Flames fans can expect to see the sublimely skilled winger in Flames’ silks on anyone, probably based largely on how quickly he can adjust to playing with bigger players and older at Boston-based university.
If he manages to maintain the kind of dominance he exhibited in his last stop, the road to Calgary could be quite short.
As the most prolific goalscorer available in this year’s draft, the 18-year-old has scored 48 breathtaking goals in 51 games for the USHL’s Chicago Steel.
He backed that up with nine others in eight playoff games to elevate his club to the league championship and honors as a top striker.
He did so with a five-foot-10, 183-pound frame that saw the right-handed sniper convert from the wing.
Able to play any of three forward positions, he said he has no preference as to where he lines up for the puck drop.
Ultimately, he seems to have a knack for finding the front of the net no matter what.
Hence the nickname “The Bison”.
“They say it’s because I’m going hard at the net and stinging like a buffalo,” the Huntington, NY native smiled. “I don’t have the exact explanation, but it was funny, and it was entertaining. “
He promises to be the same, thanks to a touch that saw him complete a league record with a 16-goal lead over the league’s two second-top scorers.
Perhaps most encouraging for Flames fans is to hear that it’s not all flash and dash – the kid is also very dizzy.
“My work ethic could be my greatest asset,” he said. “Something I’m proud of in my game is the ability to play 200 feet and be competitive in all three zones. The goal scored, and that, are two things that I will continue to work on, but I love my game. ”
As for the models, they don’t do any better than Calgary native Brayden Point, who just finished his second straight Stanley Cup race.
“My favorite guy to watch in the NHL right now,” Point’s Coronato said.
“Really talented player with a lot of skill and plays 200 feet and is really smart. I like to learn from him.
Coronato said he had a great vibe after interviewing the Flames and hoped it could be reciprocated.
It was obviously the case.
“He’s a hard-working kid who’s determined to succeed,” Treliving said. “People will talk about his goals, and I think he’s one of the best – if not the best – all-goal scorers in this draft, but that’s how he scores his goals. His ability to go to difficult areas to outdo people and create opportunities for himself and others is unique. He’s not a perimeter guy, or a cheating guy to score. He’s a complete player with a big engine, which is unique for a guy with his skill as a finisher.
Coronato also happens to be the type of skilled player the Flames organization misses the most.
“We always choose the best player available, but I would say there was an intersection between the best player available and the need for a position within the organization,” he said. “He’s a straight shooter. Played right winger this year and a bit in the middle. Has been a cross for the majority of his career and comfortable in the three forward positions. Good shooters who have the potential to play center or wing is a need within the organization. It worked well.
And the CEO is confident it won’t end the way Fox’s path did.
“There is always a risk in everything,” Treliving said. “I’m sure there’s kind of a narrative with the situation we had before with a player who was drafted and chose not to come here. At the end of the day, you take the best player. We did a lot of homework with Matt. We know the process these players go through in college. I have no worries.