Over the coming weeks, we’re going to take time (as we do every year) to break down some of the top options the Chicago Blackhawks might target in the upcoming 2021 NHL Draft.
This year, the Chicago Blackhawks own the 11th overall selection in the first round, which makes the options less easy to narrow down than years past (especially when the Hawks had the third overall selection). But there are some intriguing names who could be on the board when the Blackhawks are on the clock.
Let’s get started with a name that USHL fans in Chicago know well — and a few mock drafts have linked to the Blackhawks already.
5-10 / 183
Chicago Steel (USHL) – committed to Harvard University (NCAA)
Ranked #9 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #21 by TSN/Bob McKenzie
Ranked #13 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #27 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #32 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #24 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #21 by SPORTSNET’S
Ranked #36 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #33 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #17 by DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY
Ranked #29 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Ranked #27 by THE PUCK AUTHORITY
From Corey Pronman (The Athletic)
#15 overall prospect
Puck Skills: Average
Hockey Sense: Average
“Coronato was one of the best players in the USHL and among the leaders in most offensive categories. Coronato is an undersized forward with a lot of skill who can make plays with pace. He’s a strong skater, not elite for a small guy, but good enough to be an NHL player. He’s able to create controlled entries with his speed and skill, and make tough plays to his teammates on the move. Coronato is also able to play the half-wall on the power play and find seams as well as finish from distance. He killed penalties for Chicago and works hard enough to advance levels and win battles despite his size. In a sentence, Coronato projects as a versatile second-line NHL winger.”
From Chris Peters’ Hockey Sense
#17 overall prospect
“Between the regular season and Clark Cup playoffs, Coronato had 57 goals and 98 points for the champion Steel. He was the forward of the year in the USHL and put together one of the best goal scoring seasons the league has seen in the Tier 1 era. You don’t put those numbers up without have a special amount of talent. Coronato isn’t exceptionally skilled in terms of his ability to beat defenders one-on-one or make some fancy plays. He has an exceptional awareness, however, of the routes he needs to take off the rush or inside the offensive zone to put himself in the best position to score. He pops into soft areas well without the puck, too. Coronato has a heavy shot that gets on goalies in a hurry. His skating is solid, but not a standout trait. Coronato plays with great effort, too. He engages in puck battles, goes hard to the net when he has the lane and generally plays smart, reliable hockey in the defensive zone. His historic season was well-earned.”
Coronato could use some work on his skating. His stride is a bit short and choppy. This takes away from his acceleration and top-end speed. He also could use some work on his agility and edgework. Coronato should be able to improve these areas if he can work with a good skating coach. In fact, his skating has already improved from his rookie year in the USHL. Overall he is decent but could be much better with a bit of work. One area that he does excel is in his strength and balance on his skates. He has a low centre of gravity. He is very hard to knock off the puck. If Coronato goes into a battle for the puck, he usually comes out with it. This is true along the boards and in front of the net.
Coronato has an outstanding wrist shot and release. He may even have the best shot in the draft. He has real power and accuracy on his wrist shot, as well as the ability to quickly change the angle and release point with his quick hands. This extends to his snapshot as well, and he can use that as a weapon on the wing. Coronato has a very good one-timer and a knack for getting it on the net from the “Ovechkin Spot” on the power play. He is also able to establish his position in front of the net, getting deflections and pouncing on rebounds. He has the ability to elevate the puck quickly and beat goalies in tight.
Coronato’s game is relatively simple. He plays a very “North-South” style, not trying a lot of fancy dangles or slick plays. Coronato is always driving the net, both with and without the puck. He forechecks effectively as well as battling well along the boards. His passing game is decent but he projects to be more of a goal scorer than a playmaker. He moves the puck with short, quick passes and then looks to get open away from the play.
Coronato is also a good defensive player. He backchecks and works to support the defence down low. However, he can be overpowered by bigger and stronger opponents. He provides effective back pressure against the rush. Coronato is strong positionally and uses his stick as well as his body to cut down passing and shooting lanes. He reads the play well and anticipates where to be to cut off scoring chances. He has a non-stop motor and is willing to battle for pucks in all three zones. When a turnover is created, Coronato is quick to move the puck up the ice and start the transition game.
Projection and Comparison
Coronato is a versatile player. He has been used in all three forward positions for the Steel over the past two years. That versatility will also be a major asset, though he will need to improve his lateral mobility in order to excel at the centre position in the pros. His future may lie on the wing instead. Coronato will need some time, and going to Harvard will give him a reduced schedule and allow him to put on weight in the weight room. He could be a top-six NHL forward. Coronato can play on the power play and penalty kill if he reaches his ceiling. His game is reminiscent of Kyle Palmieri but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.