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Blackhawks’ No. 11 pick in 2021 NHL Draft: Making the case for Matthew Coronato

Coronato starred for the USHL champions, not far from the United Center.

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The Second City Hockey staff will be profiling players who could be available at the No. 11 spot in the 2021 NHL Draft, where the Blackhawks will make their first-round selection. The draft starts Friday, June 23.

It would be a very Chicago Blackhawks thing if the first-round draft pick they make in 2021 is of a player who spent the prior hockey season playing his home games about 25 miles northwest of the United Center.

That’s no slight to Matthew Coronato, who was a key part of the Chicago Steel’s Clark Cup championship in 2021. Let’s find out what has Coronato’s stock worthy of first-round consideration.

The Basics

Position: Center/Right Wing
Age: 18 (Nov. 14, 2002)
Hometown: New York, NY
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 183 pounds
Shoots: Right
Team: Chicago Steel (USHL)

Draft rankings

NHL Central Scouting (NHL): No. 9 North American skater
Elite Prospects: No. 32
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): No. 17
Corey Pronman (The Athletic): No. 15
Cam Robinson (Dobber Prospects): No. 22
Craig Button (TSN): No. 11

Coronato played in 59 games with the Steel last season between the regular season and playoffs, notching 57 goals and 41 assists — including 13 points (9 G, 4 A) in 8 playoff games, numbers that helped him earn the award for the 2021 USHL Forward of the Year. Those numbers were a marked improvement from his 2019-20 season, when Coronato tallied 18 goals and 22 assists in 45 games.

Scoring goals has become one of Coronato’s trademark abilities and is the primary reason why he’s flown up draft boards in the last year. Scouts have raved about Coronato’s quick release and hard, accurate wrist shot along with his on-ice awareness that puts him in the right spots at the right times. Don’t sleep on his playmaking ability, either, as the hands that are capable of roofing one over a goaltender’s glove are just as adept at setting up linemates for easy goals.

While he may not be the best skater in the draft, scouts believe there’s enough ability there to translate to the NHL level. And Coronato makes up for any deficiencies in his skating with a relentless style of play that makes him effective in all three zones and both special teams units — Coronato even played on the PK for the Steel. This well-rounded game led to the word “versatile” popping up in most scouting reports. Coronato’s tenacity also earned him an excellent nickname: “The Bison.”

Organizational fit

Most scouting reports have him projected as playing on the wing at the NHL level and the second-line appears to be highest ceiling scouts will afford Coronato. That’d be just fine in Chicago — or any NHL team, really, as top-six forwards are a commodity that can never be overstocked. Coronato’s ability to play both right and left wing are just another notch in his belt that would make him a solid addition to the organization. It’ll be some time before Coronato reaches the NHL, though, with his short-term future taking him to Harvard for the ‘21-22 hockey season. If Chicago adds Coronato, though, they’d have another talented young forward who could slot onto the second line behind established top-line wingers like Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat.