Adam Fantilli Scouting Report: 2023 NHL Draft #2

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The 2023 NHL draft class is a loaded one. From the top with Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli, it is arguably one of the best classes in recent memory. Add to the fact that there are some intriguing names throughout the projected first-round, and it’s clear this draft is also deep. But, sticking to the top, it’s time to look into the youngster who has torn up the NCAA. That player is, of course, Fantilli.

Adam Fantilli Scouting Report

Centre — shoots Left
Born October 12th, 2004 — Nobleton, Ontario
Height 6’2″ — Weight 195 lbs [188 cm / 88 kg]


Fantilli, born October 12th, 2004, in Toronto, Ontario, is a 6’2” and 187-pound forward in the NCAA. Playing as a true freshman in the University of Michigan, Fantilli has turned many heads. The young center has averaged nearly two points per game with Michigan. So far, he has posted 18 goals and 29 assists for 47 points in 25 games. Before this season, he played two seasons with the Chicago Steel of the USHL. Overall, he posted 55 goals and 55 assists for 110 points in 103 games with the Steel, where he won several awards, including the Clarke Cup as the Steel won the USHL title.

With the resume he has already built, which includes a recent gold medal with the U20 Canadian squad in the 2023 World Juniors, it’s clear he has earned a top spot in draft rankings. He is almost unanimously ranked second. In fact, all the following sites and experts have him ranked at number two: Elite Prospects, FCHockey, Daily Faceoff, The Hockey News, Bob McKenzie, McKeen’s Hockey, Craig Button, Recruit Scouting, DobberProspects, and Smaht Scouting. Only two notable sites or experts have him ranked lower, at third: SportsNet and Draft Prospects Hockey. This writer also has him ranked third, on his unreleased rankings.

Adam Fantilli Deep Dive

Fantilli is a pro-ready player. He has the size and skill to do so, not to mention the pedigree. What he is doing with Michigan rivals what Jack Eichel did back in 2014-15 when he was a true freshman with Boston University. There are few doubts, if any, about his translatability to the NHL, to this point. What makes Fantilli so projectable?

Fantilli’s Skating 

First, let’s start with his skating. Fantilli has really good top end speed. He may not be a blazer, as he seems to lack that extra gear to burn defenders. But, he utilizes a really strong technical ability and his frame to make up space quickly. Paired with how well he reads the game, and how hard he works on a shift-to-shift basis, he can cause issues with his skating.

That being said, his acceleration can be spotty at times. There are moments where he can really burst off his first few strides, and other moments where he looks a tad bit slow coming out of a standstill. But, that may be more due to his edges than his explosiveness. Fantilli tends to take wide, long turns at times, and he loses speed in doing so. While he can stop and start well, if he commits to, say, a hit, he takes some time curling back into the play. It is more of a consistency issue than a skill or technical issue, so it should be ironed out just fine with NHL coaching.

Offensive Abilities

Adam Fantilli has obviously been outstanding, looking at his production of the last three seasons at the USHL and NCAA levels, especially this season. But what this writer is about to type out may surprise you. Fantilli absolutely has skill, there is absolutely no denying that, but his offensive production is more a product of work ethic and being in the right places as opposed to play creation.

Shooting Ability

In three tracked games, Fantilli fired 14 total shots in all situations, with seven at even-strength. Of those shot attempts, eight hit the net, with four at even-strength. Looking at just even-strength, four of his seven shot attempts came at high-danger, with three hitting the net (two goals). Meanwhile, on the power play, three of his seven shots were at high-danger, with two hitting the net. Overall, that is 2.67 shots on goal per game tracked, meanwhile in Bedard’s three tracked games, he averaged 7.67 shots on net… at even-strength. Maybe he is more of a pass-first player?

Playmaking Ability

Well, when it comes to his passing, he attempted 41 passes in the offensive zone in all-situations, completing 27 of them (65.85%). Of those 41 pass attempts, 26 came from even-strength, and he completed 16 of them (61.54%). Of those even-strength passes, eight were aimed at high-danger, where he completed just three of them (37.5%). On the power play, he attempted 14 passes, completing 10 of them (71.43%). Of those 14 power play passes, he had four aimed at high-danger, where he completed two of them (50%).

Additionally, at all-situations, Fantilli turned the puck over 19 times, with seven passes being intercepted and 12 giveaways. Of those 19 turnovers, 16 came at even-strength. Those 16 even-strength turnovers include 12 giveaways and four passes being intercepted. He also forced just eight total turnovers, which includes one keep-in (blocking an opposition’s clearing attempt).

What The Numbers Tell Us

While it is unfair to compare Bedard, who plays in a Canadian Junior league, to Fantilli in the NCAA, it still shows something left to be desired. Fantilli is a smart player, who likes to keep things simple. That is shown in his 18 even-strength passes aimed at low-danger to his eight passes aimed at high-danger. As a shooter, he gets to the high-danger areas consistently, however, and cashes in on mistakes or scrums at the net-front. In fact, his two goals came in that fashion (one off a rebound, one off a net-front scrum).

Fantilli’s game is based on extending possessions and getting to the danger areas without the puck to position himself for a pass or rebound. He reads the play at an incredibly high level and is almost always in the right spots. However, there are also several situations in a game where he tries too much on his own. That’s what led to the relatively high total of offensive zone giveaways. The pace he plays at and his style of play should still be efficient at the NHL level, but it will need some refinement early on. But the main ingredient, his IQ and ability to read his opponents, will work at any level.

Adam Fantilli’s Transitional Abilities

Fantilli’s ability to read opponents is always one of the biggest keys to success in the transition. Add to that his size, skating, and strong stickhandling skills, and you would imagine he’d dominate in this area. But that, shockingly, isn’t always the case. He isn’t super involved in the process of moving up ice. Fantilli is usually pretty efficient when he does push up ice, but the involvement is lower than one would expect. Especially for a player who has dominated and captivated the likes of so many experts. Let’s look at Mitch Brown’s Z-score cards. Look at the main area Fantilli is not dominant in.

Diving Deeper Into The Transitional Numbers

Looking at the three aforementioned games tracked for Fantilli, we see that same story. He was involved directly in 22 even-strength zone exits, and he left the zone with control on 16 of them (72.7%). Of those 16 controlled exits, eight of them were carry-outs by Fantilli himself (36.4% of his total exit attempts). Looking at Bedard, which was already mentioned as unfair, but still to paint a picture: Bedard averages five zone exit carries per game tracked to Fantilli’s 2.67. Overall, Bedard averaged 7.33 controlled zone exits per game to Fantilli’s 5.33. But exits are usually the area top prospects don’t dominate in, at least for forwards.

In those same three games, Fantilli was directly involved in 33 zone entries at even-strength. Of those 33, he gained entry with control on 19 of them (57.6%). Then, of those 19, 13 were carry-ins by Fantilli. Let’s once again look at Bedard. Bedard averaged 11(!) carry-ins per game, versus Fantilli’s average of 4.3. Overall, Bedard averaged 13.3 controlled entries per game, while Fantilli averaged 6.33. What about Zach Benson? He averaged 6.7 carry-ins per game and 10.3 controlled entries per game. Fantilli’s numbers are considerably lower. Factoring in rush chances generated, Fantilli generated two rush chances total. Bedard averaged 3.3 rush chances per game, and Benson averaged two per game.

Fantilli’s Defensive Zone Play

Adam Fantilli is a very well-rounded player. That includes his defensive zone play, which top prospects generally lack. That adds to why he is so pro-ready in a lot of people’s minds. As previously mentioned, Fantilli has a strong motor and looks to out-work everyone else. That includes his defensive zone play. He is able and willing to involve himself in the dirty areas. He throws hits and supports his defenders low. Fantilli possesses an active stick and his IQ translates to the defensive zone.

In the three tracked games, Fantilli had 35 all-situations defensive zone touches, and turned the puck over five times. Generally speaking, he is good with the puck on his stick in his own end, making few mistakes, and generally keeping things safe and smart.

Adam Fantilli’s Potential

Adam Fantilli is pro-ready, as stated a few times already. This writer has full confidence that Fantilli could step into the NHL and produce at a respectable pace right away. For example, he could step into, let’s say, Columbus, and could produce around 40 to 50 points as a rookie.

The only question that this writer has is true offensive potential. The awareness and ability to read opponents is high level. His play away from the puck is also very good. Fantilli has a very good shot, with power and accuracy. His passing can be high-end too, flashing some high-end tape-to-tape passes. But the question is if he can generate more as he gets acclimated to the higher level, or if he will remain more of a complementary type of piece that gets in the right spots, but needs help generating.

That being said, Fantilli could be a 60-70 point producer on a year-to-year basis, comfortably. In fact, that’s a fairly safe estimate based on what he has shown thus far. If all things go well in his development, he could become a franchise cornerstone, putting up a point per game or more year-to-year in his prime years.



Visual from Mitch Brown

Tracked Stats from Kyle Pereira

Raw stats via Elite Prospects

Main Photo: John Mersits / USA TODAY NETWORK