Coyotes’ Maccelli Rewarded for Hard Work and Patience

Arizona Coyotes forward Matias Maccelli probably never thought he would receive a second NHL call-up this season after being placed in the team’s COVID-19 protocol, just hours ahead of making his NHL debut on Dec. 28. After subsequently being sent back down to Tucson, the Finnish forward spent the next two months dazzling everyone in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Matias Maccelli Arizona Coyotes
Matias Maccelli, Arizona Coyotes (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

Heading into this past week, Maccelli sat in fourth place in the AHL with 56 points (14 goals, 41 assists) in 42 games. It seemed as if he could not be stopped, being named the AHL’s rookie of the month for February, and everyone within the organization was keeping tabs on the rookie. The only question left looming around the organization was when would this kid make his NHL debut?

Where It All Started for Maccelli

Maccelli’s rise this season began back in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Dubuque Fighting Saints during the 2018-19 season, where he recorded 72 points (31 goals, 41 assists) in 62 games. These stats caught the eye of the organization, prompting them to select the Finn 98th overall in the fourth round of the 2019 NHL Draft.

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From there, he spent the next two seasons over in the Liiga with Ilves, posting 69 points (28 goals, 41 assists) in 94 games while adding five points in seven games during the 2019 World Junior Championships. After the 2020-21 season with Ilves, he’d make his debut overseas in North America with the Tucson Roadrunners.

Upon arriving in Tucson this season, the former fourth-round pick has shown no signs of slowing down. In addition to being named AHL rookie of the month this past month, the Finnish forward won November rookie of the month, led the team with 14 multi-point games this season, averaged a 1.33 overall points per-game, the second highest in Roadrunners franchise history, all while leading the Roadrunners in both goals and assists at the time of his call-up.

Hard Work Pays Off

Finally, on Feb. 28, two months (62 days, to be exact) after his first call-up ended on the team’s COVID-19 protocol list prior to making his debut, Maccelli got his second chance, as the Coyotes announced he had been called up to the team and would make his NHL debut. Two months of hard work and patience, showcasing his skills, and leading all AHL rookies in scoring/points helped draw the attention of the Coyotes organization, leading to his call-up.

March 3 against the Colorado Avalanche marked the debut that had been highly anticipated and waited for around the organization. Despite not getting a shot, goal, or assist in the game, fans didn’t have to wait much longer to see him make an impact, because on March 5, in an 8-5 win against the Ottawa Senators, the Coyotes rookie scored his first career NHL goal off the rebound of a Phil Kessel shot at 12:35 of the second period.

Future Is Bright for Maccelli

Despite only having played three games in his short NHL career so far, Maccelli has quite the bright future in Arizona. In addition to being one of the team’s top prospects, he has all the skills and makings of a player who can make an impact sooner rather than later, and if last Saturday’s game against Ottawa is an indication of what to expect, then fans should be excepted for what’s in store.

The Coyotes have a bright future waiting for them down the line in guys like Dylan Guenther and Josh Doan, as well as key pieces now such as Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz, Lawson Crouse, Karel Vejmelka, etc. Based off what we’ve seen so far, make sure you add Maccelli to that list, because the organization certainly has. What do you think? Is the Coyotes rookie just getting started? Let us know below.


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