Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2021 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Francesco Pinelli Scouting Report.
With the 2020-21 OHL season never getting started, NHL Draft prospect Francesco Pinelli went to play his draft year in Slovenia. He joined HDD Jesenice and put up five goals and six assists for 11 points in 13 regular-season games. Pinelli also added a goal in two playoff games as Jesenice won the Slovenian League title. The Hamilton, Ontario native also joined Team Canada for the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. Pinelli put up four goals and seven assists for 11 points in seven tournament games. He also helped Canada bring home the gold medal.
Pinelli was drafted in the first round, 13th overall, by the Kitchener Rangers in the 2019 OHL Draft. He put up 18 goals and 23 assists for 41 points in 53 games as a rookie. He also played for Team Canada Red at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, scoring one goal in five games. In 2018-19 Pinelli scored three goals in four games, helping Team GTHL Blue to the OGC-16 Cup. He also scored seven goals and seven assists for 14 points in seven games at the OHL Cup with the Toronto Red Wings. Pinelli was named to the tournament all-star team.
Francesco Pinelli Scouting Report
Centre/Left Wing — shoots Left
Born April 11th, 2003 — Hamilton, Ontario
Height 6’1″ — Weight 185 lbs [185 cm/84 kg]
Pinelli is a strong skater, and this helps him in all aspects of his game. He has a good first step and his long stride allows him to accelerate quickly. This ability to change speeds allows him to be more elusive while moving through the neutral zone and offensive zone. His top-end speed is also very good. Pinelli can take a defender wide and drop his shoulder and cut to the net. He also has very good agility and edgework. Pinelli can make quick cuts and changes in directions. He also has a strong lower body for a teenager. This gives him good balance. Pinelli can fight through checks and drive the net. He also has the ability to win one-on-one battles on the boards and in front of the net. This should improve as he continues to mature and get stronger.
Pinelli shows a good all-around offensive game. He is able to push the pace of play and create offensive chances. Pinelli is an excellent passer and has very good vision. He reads the play well and can move laterally to create a passing lane. Pinelli gets the puck to his teammates and puts them in positions to create scoring chances. He also moves well to open ice after passing the puck, looking for the give and go. Pinelli shows some good stickhandling skills and can carry the puck through the neutral zone as well as control play in the offensive boards on the cycle game. However, he sometimes needs to move the puck a little quicker. There are times he holds the puck too long and makes one too many moves, skating into bad areas and losing the puck.
Pinelli has an accurate wrist shot with a quick release. He can score goals if he can get his shot off in the home plate area. However, his shot does not have the power to score from further out right now. This may come with additional strength added to his frame. He also does a good job of scoring goals in tight to the net with the ability to pounce on rebounds, get deflections, and one-time passes on the net. Pinelli is not afraid to play in the dirty areas of the ice. He battles hard in front of the net and on the boards. Pinelli does a good job of getting in quick on the forecheck and creating turnovers.
Pinelli is a solid defensive player. He brings his aggressive style in all three zones, bringing a physical game to battle on the boards and contain his opponent in the cycle. His positioning is very good and he keeps himself between his man and the front of the net. He forces attackers wide and into poor scoring areas. Pinelli supports the defence down low as well as providing effective backpressure in transition. Once turnovers are created, he is good at quickly transitioning up the ice and creating scoring chances. He needs a bit more work in the faceoff circle, but that should come over the next couple of years.
Projection and Comparison
Pinelli does a lot of things well and if he can continue to develop his offensive game, he could become a solid second-line centre in the NHL. A versatile player with an all-around game, he could become a player used in all situations going forward. Pinelli has spent more time on the wing than at centre to date, but his game profiles as a centre and he should be taking that role in Kitchener next year. He is likely at least two years away from playing in the NHL and possibly a bit more. However, he is the type of player who coaches will love. Pinelli’s game is reminiscent of Ryan O’Reilly. This is a stylistic comparison only though, and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Francesco Pinelli that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next article in our draft series.
Franscesco Pinelli Scouting Report Main Photo:
“He cares. He’s a good, skilled player who cares about what he’s doing for the team, how he’s affecting things.”
Francesco Pinelli goes from the coach’s doghouse to the @EliteProspects Player of the Game for 🇨🇦. #U18Worlds #2021NHLDraft.
🔗📰: https://t.co/0t5H0EKEb1 pic.twitter.com/gWmChqSSfc
— EP Rinkside (@EPRinkside) May 1, 2021