The one common theme among Stanley Cup champions is their ability to draft forwards and develop them into becoming elite players. The Nashville Predators have historically struggled with that facet of team building, so heading into the THW mock draft, I decided to emphasize selecting players I believed could make a sizeable impact on the front end.
I saw some names fall off the board that I was heavily targeting, like Chaz Lucius, a prolific goal scorer and someone who could bring an excellent touch to the goal-scoring side of the Predators roster. However, even with him off the board, I still had an abundance of options at 18th overall, namely Aatu Raty, Isak Rosen, Fyodor Svechkov, and Logan Stankoven, among others. However, I chose the Chicago Steel’s Matthew Coronato.
What Coronato Can Bring to the Predators
My decision came down to the wire between Raty and Coronato, as I have been a massive fan of both players for varying reasons. Some might even say that I was wrong to choose Coronato while Raty was still available, but the package that he brings to the table fits what the Predators need more, in my opinion.
With 85 points in 51 games with the Steel, there’s no doubt that Coronato’s offensive game at its peak is top of the line. The one concern regarding them is that the Steel is an outstanding team that created a red herring of his capabilities. The upside is there, but the worry is warranted if the numbers are inflated due to his team’s excellence. Even with the possibility that the numbers might be somewhat deceiving, I’m fascinated with the idea that they might not be. We’ll have to see when he inevitably joins the hockey team at Harvard University next season. Still, his raw talent brings limitless possibilities if he does end up being developed correctly.
The basic skills I’m primarily referring to are his skating and his offensive creation through smart stickhandling and his shot. Smaht Scouting’s Paul Zuk paints an excellent picture of Coronato’s capabilities.
While Coronato doesn’t particularly stand out in any singular aspect of his game, he is incredibly solid at producing offense, which is arguably just as, if not more important. There’s always room to develop certain aspects of his game at the next level, but it’s hard to teach that natural instinct of producing points. Coronato will no doubt impress a ton of scouts when it comes to his “won’t-quit” attitude, and his instinctive talent to score.Smaht Scouting “Scouting Report: Matthew Coronato,” Paul Zuk, March 15, 2021
Coronato is electric in the offensive zone and works on his inside edges to open up lanes or drive to the middle of the ice. Considering that the Predators very rarely look towards the slot or actively move to that area, adding someone who has that habit would provide an excellent change to the norm. He’s a playmaker first, and his skill set in that area is the most translatable to the NHL. Another strong suit of his is moving into open areas of space without the puck. Using his mind to think the game out and proactively move around the offensive zone is also a trait that Predators’ forwards, for the most part, are missing.
One thing I would like to see him work on that the Predators have a problem with already is low-danger shots. While he does score a lot, it’s not because his shot is spectacular–although it’s still above average in my opinion and the opinion of our draft guru Matthew Zator–or because he takes an abundant amount of high-danger shots. He would be playing right into the Peter Laviolette system of feeding the defensemen and spewing low-danger opportunities. Hopefully, the Harvard coaches can teach strong shooting habits to pair with his off-puck prowess during his college seasons.
Coronato’s Upside Is Perfect for the Predators
If everything pans out for Coronato during his development, an insertion into the Predators lineup would be imminent. At his best, Coronato is a hard-working forward that creates well without the puck, and because of that, he’s a consistent threat to score. There is a consistent 60- to 70-point scorer that won’t hurt you on the defensive side of the ice at his best. Of course, this relies on the Predators finding a new coach that will put in a new system to maximize offensive production, but his hard-working nature will serve him nicely even if they don’t do it.
Coronato’s upside is a hard-working second-line, maybe first-line forward that can put up a fair amount of points on any given night. He went scoreless in only eight games, which is ridiculous when you consider that he played 51 games in total on the season. He could prove effective in a Predators top-six if everything pans out, and he has the work ethic necessary for a Stanley Cup-winning team. Any team, especially the Predators, should be excited if they end up drafting this guy. If he’s still on the board at 18, I would love to see the team pick him up.
Jeff is a consistent source for Predators content here at The Hockey Writers. He enjoys watching all sorts of hockey from juniors to the pros, and playing hockey for his high school and local teams in Nashville. He’s a big proponent of hockey analytics, and you’ll often see him using lots of statistics and data to back up his main talking points. You can find his work here, or check out his contributions on his own Substack, or at Last Word on Hockey and On the Forecheck. Lastly, you can listen to him on the Youth Movement Podcast presented by On the Forecheck or the Triple Shift Podcast. For any inquiries about interviews or questions about statistics, analytics, or just general hockey opinions you can message his twitter, @jjmid04.