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Rookie Matias Maccelli deserves more attention

The Finnish forward is one of the best rookies this season.

New Jersey Devils v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Even during tank years, there are bright spots. You just have to know where to look.

Last season, fans could watch the revitalized play of Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Lawson Crouse and know that the team General Manager Bill Armstrong is constructing has a solid foundation.

Three of the four previously named players are still with the team and having great seasons. But the team also needs younger stars, and if you want the brightest spot this season, look no further than the play of rookie forward Matias Maccelli.

The 22-year-old Finnish forward was originally drafted 98th overall by the Coyotes in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He was the third player the Coyotes drafted after selecting Victor Söderströn 11th overall and John Farinacci 76th.

After two seasons in Liiga, Maccelli made his North American professional debut with the Tucson Roadrunners last season. He was over a point-per-game in the AHL with 14 goals and 43 points over 47 games, but his time in the NHL was less impressive. Maccelli played 23 games with the Coyotes last season and finished with one goal and five assists.

But even though he is relatively inexperienced and his numbers didn’t look great last season, Maccelli made the Coyotes’ opening night roster. It didn’t take him long to get rolling.

He notched his first point in his second game, assisting on Clayton Keller’s first goal on the power play. After his tenth game, he had already surpassed his point total from the prior year, and he hasn’t stopped there.

Perhaps the most significant contributor to Maccelli’s success this season has been his largely consistent linemates. Per Frozen Tools, 47.7% of Maccelli’s even-strength time this season was on a line with Nick Bjugstad and Lawson Crouse. With Bjugstad off to the Edmonton Oilers, Crouse and Maccelli have been paired with Jack McBain, a combination that is benefitting everyone.


It wasn’t just Maccelli who benefited from his deployment with Bjugstad, Crouse, and now McBain. Before he was traded, Nick Bjugstad had 13 goals with the Coyotes, the same number as his previous two seasons with the Minnesota Wild. Additionally, Crouse has scored a career-high 21 goals this season, and three of McBain’s 11 goals have come since the trade deadline.

Matias Maccelli’s point production has been very consistent throughout the season. He is good for a point almost every game or every other game, and the only time he has gone over two games without a point this season was when he was injured in December.

Before being injured, Maccelli was starting to get some buzz. Unfortunately, the media tends to overlook the Coyotes for various reasons, and it took them a little time to realize that one of the top rookies this season was playing in the desert for a tanking team.

Maccelli missed a decent chunk of games, but it hasn’t slowed him down. He has 13 points in the 18 games he has played since being hurt, including a four-game point streak heading into tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

Maccelli stacks up well against other rookies around the NHL. He leads all rookies with 30 assists, and his points-per-game is second only to Matty Beniers (0.73 compared to 0.75).

And while Maccelli has been productive on the power play with 10 points, most of his offense is generated 5-on-5. Maccelli is tied for second with Mason McTavish and Cole Perfetti in even-strength points among rookies with 25, and all but one of Maccelli’s five goals have been even-strengthed.

Unfortunately, when Maccelli went down, coverage of him went away, and it has yet to return. A recent poll of writers regarding the Calder Trophy had Maccelli 8th in the rankings, despite how productive he has been. However, a few outlets are starting to come around, and if Maccelli can continue his current pace, he could earn himself a nomination and be a big piece of the rebuilding Coyotes.