While the focus at Monday’s 2023 NHL Draft Lottery will be on which team gets to select first and take super phenom Connor Bedard, the next best player in the draft class is no slouch either.
Adam Fantilli is a six-foot-two, 187-pound forward that played last season at Michigan University. Washington Capitals fans should get familiar with the name as the team has a chance to move up to the second overall selection in the second lottery drawing.
So, who exactly is Fantilli and why would he be a fantastic “consolation” prize for any team that just misses out on Bedard?
Fantilli first sprung onto the scene when the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit made him a first-round pick in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection Draft. It was interesting not because Fantilli wasn’t seen as one of the top prospects in the class, but because he had already committed to playing in the USHL with the Chicago Steel.
During the 2020-21 season, Fantilli made his USHL debut. In 49 games, he put up 36 points (18g, 18a) and added an additional nine points (8g, 1a) in eight playoff games. He was named to the USHL’s All-Rookie Second Team and was named the Clark Cup Playoffs MVP for his postseason efforts after helping lead the Steel to a championship.
Fantilli’s sophomore season in the USHL was his true coming out party. He tore the league up, recording 74 points (37g, 37a) in 54 games. He was named to the All-USHL First Team and earned his first appearance at an IIHF World Junior Championship with the U18 Canadian team.
At that U18 WJC, he put up six points (1g, 5a) in four games. Canada crashed out in fifth place but Fantilli was second only to Bedard (6g, 1a) in total points.
The 2021-22 campaign was Fantilli’s last before suiting up for the University of Michigan in the NCAA, where he had previously committed to playing in the summer of 2021.
Fantilli’s stock was already high before ever stepping on the ice in a Michigan jersey but once he did it skyrocketed even more. In just 36 games for the Wolverines as a freshman, Fantilli sliced up Division One to the tune of 65 points (30g, 35a). It was the best freshman season in college hockey since current Winnipeg Jets star Kyle Connor recorded 71 points for Michigan in the 2015-16 season.
His ridiculous season led to him being selected for the All-Big Ten Freshman Team, All-Big Ten First Team, and Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. In postseason play, he set the record for most goals (7) and points (11) in a Big Ten tournament and was named the MVP of the tournament.
All of that culminated with him winning the Tim Taylor Award for best freshman of the year and the Hobey Baker Award for the top overall college player of the year. With his Hobey Baker win, he became just the third freshman ever to win the prestigious trophy after Paul Kariya (1993) and Jack Eichel (2015).
Fantill also skated in the 2023 U20 World Junior Championship where he won gold with Team Canada. He had a bit of a quieter tournament than most expected, tallying just five points (2g, 3a) in seven games.
There is a lot to love about Fantilli who already boasts an NHL frame and is ready to play games at the highest level next season. He loves playing with the puck and has the potential to be a true, game-breaking, first-line center.
The Caps being able to add a young talent like Fantilli down the middle would be a godsend for a team with an aging core and massive question marks surrounding current middlemen Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom. It would, like jumping up to first overall to select Bedard, be a jumpstart to retooling the roster that general manager Brian MacLellan is set to do this summer.
Again, cross your fingers, Caps fans. The Draft Lottery will be held on Monday, May 8, at 8 pm ET and aired on ESPN.
2023 NHL Draft Prospect Profiles
Headline photo: @adamfantilli/Instagram
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.