The Arizona Coyotes have been quite the spectacle around the league over the past two weeks, and for once, a good reason. The team is currently on an eight-game point streak, thanks in part to the production of forwards Clayton Keller, Barrett Hayton, and Nick Schmaltz in particular. Behind the Coyotes’ recently red-hot first line is the trio of Lawson Crouse, Jack McBain, and most importantly, presumed Calder nominee, rookie Matias Maccelli.
With seven goals and 32 assists in 52 games, Maccelli has been one of the most underrated rookies whose name has been heating up not only around the league but also in the race for the Calder Trophy. With other rookies such as Matty Beniers, Logan Thompson, Cole Perfetti, Mason McTavish, and Shane Pinto in the mix, the Coyotes forward is making a name for himself in other areas besides the goal department.
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Standing Out Among Others
What makes Maccelli an interesting case for such a top honor is his ability to read the play and his precision playmaking with the puck. Selected 98th overall by the Coyotes in the 2019 Draft, the Finnish forward currently sits 10 points behind Beniers and McTavish for the rookie points lead, while leading all rookies with 32 helpers, two more than the runner-up. Despite sitting in third, the Coyotes forward leads all rookies, with a minimum of 20 games played, in points per game with 0.75.
Related: 2022-23 Calder Trophy Tracker
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During the Coyotes’ recent eight-game point streak Maccelli has recorded nine points on three goals and six assists. He continues to stand out above the rest, especially considering for the first half of the season he was only averaging 2:09 of ice time a night. That number has only increased as the season has gone on, and with it, a promotion to the team’s second line, where he’s meshed well with linemates Crouse and McBain. He currently averages 15:27 of ice time, while also having one of the highest shooting percentages among rookies, at 16.3 percent.
Garnering Attention From The Organization And League
In addition to his offensive exploits, Maccelli has garnered praise from his head coach for his play without the puck. “It’s his compete level and his engagement defensively,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “He takes pride in defending. He takes pride in playing well in the zone. He’s taking pride in blocking shots. He’s not perfect, no one will ever be, but he tries to be, and I appreciate that.”
The way he’s adapted to the NHL is what stands out the most to not only the coaching staff, but also the league. Unlike most rookies, he took his own route to the NHL, starting his professional career in the Liiga, also known as the Finnish Elite League with Ilves. After recording 69 points in 94 games in two seasons in Finland’s top league, he took his talents to the American Hockey League (AHL) where he put up 57 points in 47 games with the Coyotes’ affiliate, Tucson Roadrunners. In just two years after being drafted, he caught the attention of two leagues, prompting the Coyotes organization to give him a shot with the big club at the start of the season.
Calder Trophy Odds
While the odds are low that the Coyotes get their first-ever Calder Trophy winner, there’s no denying that there’s a star-studded rookie playing in the desert. With other prospects such as Logan Cooley, Conor Geekie, Dylan Guenther, and Josh Doan on the not-so-distant horizon, the Coyotes are leaning on their younger core to lead them into the future. With potential NHL stars on their way to Arizona, Maccelli is currently setting the stage for the next era of Coyotes hockey, while also making his case for the 2023 Calder Trophy.