The LA Kings have selected forward Francesco Pinelli with the 42nd overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft!
The Kings acquired this selection from the Ottawa Senators, in exchange for second-round (49 overall) and fifth-round (136 overall) in this season’s draft.
Hometown: Stoney Creek, Ontario
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 15 (North American skaters)
TSN/Craig Button’s Final Ranking: 24
The Athletic/Corey Pronman’s Final Ranking: 36
McKeen’s Final Ranking: 25
Stats (AlpsHL– Jesenice): 13 GP, 5-6=11
What The Experts Said
Via The Athletic’s Corey Pronman
Without an OHL season, Pinelli went to Slovenia and was also one of the top scorers at the U18 worlds, despite limited minutes at times. Pinelli is a highly intelligent player who can make tough plays consistently. He has the small-area skills to make checkers miss and the vision to make plays off the flank and under pressure. He competes well enough to win puck battles even if he’s not overly physical. His skating is elusive, with a decent first step and ability to 10-2 around defenders, but he lacks separation speed. His toolkit doesn’t scream “first-round pick” and he’s listed higher than where my eyes think he should be due to just how much he’s shown he can score at various levels. In a sentence, Pinelli projects as a middle-six NHL forward who may frustrate a coach if he doesn’t score.
Via ESPN’s Victoria Matiash
On loan from the Kitchener Rangers to HDD Jesenice in the Slovenian pro league, Pinelli collected 11 points through 13 games in an altogether light competitive season. A more notable tour with Canada’s under-18 group resulted in an additional four goals and seven assists in seven contests. A play-driving center and innovative puck-handler, Pinelli thrives in the offensive zone. But he’s only a so-so skater who needs to work on his explosiveness and acceleration. Still, with further development and improvement, the tools and on-ice smarts are in place for Pinelli to serve as a top-six center at the NHL level.
What His Coach Said – Mike McKenzie, Kitchener Rangers (via Scott Wheeler, The Athletic)
We just really liked his blend of hockey sense, his compete, and his skill level. He’s a dual threat. He can score, he’s got a really good shot, but he can also make plays and set guys up. He was the catalyst of that team offensively. He was always the guy.
Quick Take – The Kings moved up, surrendering a fifth-round selection in the process, to draft Pinelli at 42. Pinelli was ranked by just about anyone with a voice higher in the draft than the 42nd best player, so this is a value pick in many ways, with similarities in that front to when the Kings got Akil Thomas a few years back. Clearly, the Kings had value in this player, and saw an opportunity to use the wealth within their system, in terms of both prospects and picks, to move up and nab the player they want. It now leaves the Kings without a fifth-round selection, and one less overall, but they got their guy in the second.
On his pre-draft communication with the Kings, and if he had any indication he might be selected there
[The Kings] reached out to me, we had an interview, and I thought the interview went really well. I wasn’t really expecting LA to select me, but once they traded [up], I just had a feeling they might be selecting me and I was really happy with the outcome. Obviously they have a great organization, so it was great.
On playing with Brandt Clarke at the U18 tournament, and now being teammates once again in the Kings organization
He’s a great player, we played at the U-18’s and he’s also a great person. He’s a very skilled defenseman, but he’s also very responsible too, so I think he’s got a really good two-way game. Once he got selected, he was really fired up and I was happy to be selected by the same team as him. It was really fun to see.
On playing overseas this season, and his experience playing professionally
The guys were older, and they were faster and stronger, and it was also the Olympic ice, so more of a skating game, and it was definitely different. To make that transition was really fun, and it was a different experience for sure. I grew as a person and as a player and I think it helped to develop my game for sure.
On the uniqueness of the 2020-21 season, and being selected by the Kings organization
It means a lot, to be selected by such a great organization is a real honor. I’m really excited to get started. This year has been different, I got to go overseas to play in Slovenia and then the U-18’s. It was definitely different, but I made the most of it and just enjoying the day today. Getting selected was an awesome experience, a dream come true for sure.