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Top of the lottery prospects: Adam Fantilli ends NCAA regular season as points leader

The regular season for the NCAA came to a close last week, with Adam Fantilli as the undisputed leader in points at 50 (20 G, 30 A) in 29 games. He is the odds-on favorite to win the Hobey Baker this season as the best player in college hockey.

Fantilli did finish on a bit of a slower note by his standards: he had just two goals and one assist in his last four games and saw his 12-game, post-World Juniors point streak end in Michigan’s regular-season finale against Notre Dame. He finished with 23 points (9 G, 14 A) in that 12-game stretch. This brought his final points-per-game rate to 1.72, putting him just below Jack Eichel’s rate of 1.78 in his freshman season.

Even though Fantilli didn’t produce at quite the same pace as other times in the season, three of his final four games were still impressive performances, helping Michigan get just enough points for second place in the Big Ten.

In back-to-back games against Ohio State, Fantilli opened the scoring in one game and picked up the assist in the other. Fantilli showed off his precision as a shooter by threading the puck through opposing players to score.

Fantilli’s final goal of the regular season came in the penultimate game of the regular season against Notre Dame, tying it with 1:57 left to send it to overtime. It ended up being a crucial one, as his goal guaranteed that Michigan would have home ice for the quarterfinals against Wisconsin next weekend.

The goal was also Fantilli’s 50th point of the season, putting him in very good company when it comes to future NHL players, including guys like: Eichel (1.78), Dany Heatley (1.47), Zach Parise (1.56), Brock Boeser (1.43), and Phil Kessel (1.31) — just to name a handful.

As noted above, Fantilli’s point streak ended in his last game of the season — though it’s not surprising considering he was ejected with two-thirds of the game remaining. With only 33 seconds remaining in the first period, he received a five-minute major and game misconduct for contact to the head of Notre Dame’s Chase Blackmun.

It was Fantilli’s second game misconduct in less than a month after playing a pretty clean season, so he definitely needs to be learn to keep his often aggressive playing style from tipping over into the category of undisciplined. It also possibly cost Michigan a chance to close out the regular season with a win, as the Wolverines ultimately fell 2-1 in overtime.

Other than discipline, there are some areas of Fantilli’s game that still need development, including not utilizing his transition skills enough and his sometimes too simplistic playmaking. As a player with excellent skating and strong puck handling skills, Fantilli is great at traversing the ice, but his problem is that he just doesn’t do it enough. He has also been more of an efficient playmaker than a creative one this season, a slight difference from how he played last year in the USHL.

Below are some of Fantilli’s micro stats, as provided by EP Rinkside’s Mitch Brown:

Of note, Chris Peters of Flo Hockey — one of the top sources for information on current and prospective NHL players — mentioned that there was at least a small possibility that Fantilli would spend another year at Michigan. If his drafted team was the Blackhawks, it’d be interesting to see if they wanted Fantilli to make the transition right away or wait another year since the Blackhawks roster will likely be pretty depleted in 2023-24. Waiting a year post-draft worked out okay for Jonathan Toews, anyway.

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