With the 42nd overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, the LA Kings have selected Francesco Pinelli from the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)
About Francesco Pinelli
Francesco Pinelli, similar to other first round picks Mason McTavish and Carson Lambos, was forced to play elsewhere in his draft year, due to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) not returning for the 2020-21 season. The Kitchener Rangers’ center found himself on loan to Slovenia.
In the Alps Hockey League, under very odd and scary circumstances for a draft-eligible player, Pinelli found some moderate success, and was able to assert himself as a top player in this year’s class. He is ranked as a mid-to-late first-round selection by nearly every scouting service.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“Living on his own for the first time in a foreign country where he didn’t speak a lick of Slovenian, Pinelli put up 11 points through 13 games for HDD Jesenice. Albeit a small sample size, he impressed and definitely appeared to make the best of an unusual situation.
“To follow up his stint in Slovenia, Pinelli earned the opportunity to represent Team Canada at the 2021 Under-18 World Hockey Championships. Playing alongside future draft phenoms in Connor Bedard and Shane Wright, he finished the tournament tied for second in points with 11 through seven games.
“Now standing at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, Pinelli is an incredibly flashy player who’s electric offensively and reliable defensively. He has an above-average shot with a minimal windup, as his wrists are strong enough to generate effective shots without one. His skating is also above average, and he’s a player you can trust to generate plays in all areas of the ice.
“Pinelli is also good on the forecheck and has no issue throwing the body. He’s a very unselfish player who will let his linemates create the plays as much as he enjoys creating them himself. He can be just as effective as a finisher as a playmaker.”
How this Affects the Kings’ Plans
The Los Angeles Kings selected a possible first-round talent in the early second round. Pinelli’s odd route to the NHL Draft likely was the main reason for his falling outside the top-30 picks.
Pinelli, as a center, will be able to learn behind Anze Kopitar, and never have the pressure to carry the offensive load behind star prospects Quinton Byfield and Alex Turcotte. Pinelli can easily develop into a middle-six forward, with a plethora of talent around him, and step into the NHL after a few years when the Kings begin their uptick out of their rebuild.
Josh is a young writer from the Bay Area, who now studies journalism at San Diego State University. In addition to covering the Sharks and Gulls for THW, Josh is a crossover scout at FCHockey and covers his school’s hockey team at TheDailyAztec. When not obsessing over hockey, Josh loves blasting music with friends, theatre, and playing with his dog. Follow Josh on Twitter for his latest takes on the Sharks, Gulls, and NHL Draft!