A common thread that has linked some players together throughout this weird year, is North American players that were lucky enough to get an opportunity overseas and break their professional seal, playing in various tiers and divisions while their junior leagues (mainly the Ontario Hockey League) was shutdown.
Mason McTavish is certainly the highest profile forward that was given the opportunity, and Brandt Clarke is another defenseman that might go in the first 10 picks on July 23, but center Francesco Pinelli is another dude that went across the Atlantic and was able to at least play some hockey to keep his name in the head of NHL scouting departments.
Whether his draft stock would have improved with a full OHL season or it would have been exactly the same, Pinelli has been classified as one of the more intelligent centers in the entire class. Someone that can read play exceptionally well and set up his teammates for prime scoring chances.
He’s going to be some team’s lifeblood for the back half of the first round, a prospect to really bank on making the NHL in some capacity, but he doesn’t have that top-tier talent that some other riskier picks might have in that area. Just a lot of fundamentals that is backed up with some lackluster attributes.
BSH 2021 Community Draft Board, No. 30: Francesco Pinelli
Team: HDD Jesenice (AlpsHL)
Stats: 5 G, 6 A in 13 GP
#16 by Elite Prospects
#24 by Scott Wheeler/The Athletic
#26 by Dobber Prospects
#23 by Bob McKenzie/TSN
What’s there to like?
Whether or not you like the term “hockey IQ” or “hockey sense”, Pinelli has some of the best in this year’s draft class. He appears to be a couple steps ahead of his opposition on the ice and that translates to being able to establish himself in the offensive zone, propping up his linemates with some of the best passing around in the class.
Pinelli knows where to set up and where to get that open, softer ice that he can make plays from. He can even attract defenders in with his patience on the puck, drawing the attention away from an available teammate or creating any sense of space that will make it easier to produce. His offensive game is off the charts when it comes to being able to either shoot the puck in himself or make some plays collectively.
It’s just the other stuff to worry about.
What’s not to like?
Sometimes, Pinelli just looks like he doesn’t really give much of an effort on the other half of the ice. It’s spotty at best when you see him charging in for defense, or even when you see him try and utilize his linemates in terms of transitioning the puck up the ice.
That might have just been a lack of awareness with new teammates, either during his rookie year in Kitchener or in the small sample size of 13 games playing in Slovenia — a foreign country, speaking a different language, with brand new teammates, can certainly hinder your ability to perform.
Individually, Pinelli’s skating will need some work, but that’s an issue that so many gifted forwards have, that can be cleared up with professional development coaches. Countless centers focus on the offensive side of the game before anything else, and then figure out that stuff later on in their professional careers, so I would have no problem with Pinelli going to some team in the first round.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
He might not be the defensive stalwart that some fans want this team to adopt, but Pinelli can come and fit in with the system fairly well. The eventual need of centers is extremely evident, but for someone that can potentially lead a power play while also controlling the offensive zone at even strength, is someone to really utilize.
There’s enough mobile blueliners and good passers — hey Ryan Ellis — to get the puck up the ice without the forwards being the fleetest of foot. Think of Pinelli as a quasi stationary distributor of the puck that will no doubt help his teammates put points on the board.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
This is tricky. With the 13th (technically 14th but the Arizona Coyotes forfeited pick, etc. etc.) pick in the first round, Pinelli would be a reach, and an extreme reach for others. There will be forward talent there appropriate for where the Flyers are selecting — whether it’s a Cole Sillinger, Fabian Lysell, Matthew Coronato, or a slipping Mason McTavish — that should be regarded higher and projected to be better players than Pinelli.
If they decide to trade down, getting a roster player for falling back into the 20’s of the first round, then Pinelli can certainly be an option around that selection. But without the trade dominos falling, he most likely will not be in Philadelphia.
2021 BSH Community Draft Board
- Owen Power — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Matthew Beniers — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Brandt Clarke — D, Nove Zamky (Slovakia)
- Dylan Guenther — LW/RW, Edmonton (WHL)
- William Eklund — C/LW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
- Luke Hughes — D, US NTDP (USHL) and US National U18 (USDP)
- Simon Edvinsson — D, Frölunda HC J20 / J20 Nationell - 21/22
- Kent Johnson — W, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Aatu Räty — C, Kärpät U20 and Kärpät (Liiga)
- Jesper Wallstedt — G, Luleå (SHL)
- Mason McTavish — C, EHC Olten (SL)
- Cole Sillinger — C/LW, Sioux (USHL)
- Chaz Lucius — C, US NTDP (USHL) and US National U18 (USDP)
- Fabian Lysell — LW/RW, Luleå HF (SHL)
- Carson Lambos — D, JYP U20 (U20 SM-sarja)
- Matthew Coronato — F, Chicago Steel (USHL)
- Nikita Chibrikov — LW/RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL), SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL), SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
- Sasha Pastujov — LW, US NTDP (USHL) and US National U18 (USDP)
- Corson Ceulemans — D, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
- Oskar Olausson — LW/RW, HV71 (SHL)
- Brennan Othmann — LW, EHC Olten (SL)
- Logan Stankoven — C/W, Kamloops (WHL)
- Zachary L’Heureux — LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
- Zachary Bolduc — C/W, Rimouski (QMJHL)
- Simon Robertsson — RW - Skellefteå AIK (SHL)
- Xavier Bourgault — C/RW, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
- Sebastian Cossa — G, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
- Scott Morrow — D, Shattuck St. Mary’s (USHS Prep)
- Daniil Chayka — D, CSKA Moscow (KHL)
- Francesco Pinelli — C, HDD Jesenice (AlpsHL)