James Malatesta Scouting Report: 2021 NHL Draft #75

James Malatesta Scouting Report

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 James Malatesta Scouting Report.

A seventh-round pick, 116th overall by the Quebec Remparts in the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft, James Malatesta has turned into a draft steal. He scored 23 goals and 22 assists for 45 points in 59 games as a QMJHL rookie. He also played for Team Canada Black at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. Malatesta scored three goals and three assists for six points in five tournament games. Malatesta was even better in his second year in the league. He scored 10 goals and 23 points in 32 games. He also scored three goals and four points in six playoff games.

Malatesta came up as part of the Lac St. Louis system, one that is recognized as one of the top development systems in Quebec. In 2018-19 he put up seven goals and 12 points in 22 games in midget AAA. Malatesta came alive in the playoffs. He added 11 goals and 23 points in just16 games. He joined Team Quebec at the Canada Winter Games. Malatesta scored two goals and five points in six games on the way to a gold medal. He was also part of Team Quebec Blue at the Quebec Cup, also taking home the title.

James Malatesta Scouting Report

Left Wing/Centre — shoots Left
Born May 31st, 2003 — Kirkland, Quebec
Height 5’9″ — Weight 179 lbs [175 cm / 81 kg]


Malatesta is an outstanding skater. He has an outstanding first step and excellent acceleration. Malatesta has a powerful stride. He also uses his ability to change speeds as a weapon, quickly speeding up if he gets a small opening to fly by a defender. He also has excellent top-end speed. Malatesta can take a defender wide before cutting to the front of the net. Malatesta’s edgework, as well as his agility, are good. It is not elite like his speed and acceleration but he is able to change directions quickly and efficiently as well. Malatesta has good cross-overs. He gains speed and power coming out of turns. Malatesta has a low centre of gravity, improving his balance. It allows him to fight through checks and win battles on the boards and in front of the net. This should improve as he matures and gets stronger.

Offensive Game

Malatesta is an undersized forward but he does not play like one. He is extremely aggressive and physical. Malatesta would rather skate through his opponents than around them. He goes hard to the net both with and without the puck. Malatesta has a very good arsenal of shots. He has an excellent wrist shot as well as a very good slap shot. Malatesta’s wrist shot is powerful and he has very good accuracy.  He also has the quick hands to change the angle on his shot just before releasing it. His slap shot is powerful as well. He gets off an effective one-timer. Malatesta quickly adjusts his feet to get his shot off even if the pass isn’t perfect.

Malatesta uses his speed to get in quickly on the forecheck and cause havoc. He pressures defenders, forcing them to move the puck quickly and creating turnovers. He is also willing to take punishment in front of the net in order to create scoring opportunities. Malatesta is not the most creative player. He plays a very-north south game. He protects the puck well in the cycle game. Malatesta prefers short, quick passes to keep the puck moving to a creative cross-crease pass. He loves to work the give-and-go, immediately looking for open ice after he passes it to a teammate. Malatesta is much more likely to shoot than pass though. He will shoot from anywhere on the ice.

Defensive Game

Malatesta is also aggressive in his own end of the ice. He supports the defence with backpressure against the rush. He is also willing to provide support in containing the opponent’s cycle game. His lack of size can be a liability in this area though. Malatesta can be overpowered by bigger and stronger opponents. Malatesta uses his quickness to retrieve loose pucks and move them up the ice quickly. He is excellent in starting the transition game and starting offence. However, he still needs some work on his play away from the puck. Malatesta needs to work on his positioning and on cutting off passes to his man.

Projection and Comparison

Malatesta plays a very straightforward game. His lack of creativity and his tunnel vision on always shooting probably keeps him from becoming a top-line forward. However, he could develop into a solid middle-six winger. While he has played some centre, he projects better at left wing with his aggressiveness on the boards as well as his lack of vision and creativity. His speed is a major asset and his willingness to get involved defensively could help him develop into an excellent penalty killer as well. Malatesta’s game is reminiscent of Paul Byron but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.


The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of James Malatesta that are available on youtube as well as Twitter.

Check back later for our latest NHL Draft article.


James Malatesta Scouting Report Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images

QUEBEC CITY, QC – OCTOBER 18: James Malatesta #11 of the Quebec Remparts skates with the puck against the Rimouski Oceanic during their QMJHL hockey game at the Videotron Center on October 18, 2019, in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images)