2023 Draft Prospect Profile: Adam Fantilli needs to be a Blue Jacket

Don't call Fantilli a consolation prize

The 2023 NHL Entry Draft is rapidly approaching, and it's time to look at who the Blue Jackets could pick on Wednesday, June 28th. The Columbus Blue Jackets own their first rounder, guaranteed to be in the Top 4, as well as the LA Kings' pick, which will likely be in the 20s. Next up: Adam Fantilli.

If there is no movement in the draft lottery, and Blue Jackets should be fortunate enough to not move down in the draft, it will truly feel like they won the lottery, earning the right to draft Michigan center, Adam Fantilli.

In just about any other draft year, we'd be talking about Fantilli as the consensus #1 pick, but he just so happens to share a draft year with another player who is considered a generational talent. Don't take that as a slight toward Fantilli, as he is a player who will undoubtedly re-shape this Blue Jackets team, and provide them the #1 center this franchise has needed for its entire existence. I also have very little doubt he is also destined to wear the C on his chest someday for whatever team that drafts him. Throughout his young hockey career, he has drawn comparisons to Mark Messier, Eric Lindros and Jonathan Toews.

What really stuck out to me was how Fantilli can play any type of game and be successful and contribute. He's easily skilled enough to go toe-to-toe with the best of them and not look at all out of place. At the same time, he can be a physical player who thrives in grinding out wins and playing a gritty game. He's also not afraid to drop the gloves and set the tone if needed. He does what needs to be done to win games, and he does it all very well.

I'm on board with Jarmo breaking the bank to move up to #2 and acquire Fantilli if another team is willing to listen. He's going to be that good.

By the way... both players I previewed last year were drafted. Let's hope that trend continues.

Adam Fantilli

Position: C
Team: University of Michigan
Date of Birth: Oct. 12, 2004
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario
Height: 6'2" / Weight: 187 lbs
Shoots: Left


Ranked #2 by Consolidated Ranking
Ranked #2 by Elite Prospects
Ranked #2 by FC Hockey
Ranked #2 by TSN (Bob McKenzie)
Ranked #2 by TSN (Craig Button)
Ranked #2 by McKeen's Hockey
Ranked #2 by The Hockey News
Ranked #2 by NHL Central Scouting (among North American skaters)
Ranked #2 by SportsNet
Ranked #2 by Recruit Scouting
Ranked #2 by Dobber Prospects
Ranked #3 by Draft Prospects Hockey
Ranked #2 by Smaht Scouting
Ranked #2 by The Puck Authority
Ranked #2 by Daily Faceoff
AVERAGE - 2.00

2022-23 Stats

University of Michigan (NCAA)
Games Played: 36
Goals: 30
Assists: 35
Points: 65
PIM: 67
Plus/Minus: +31

CANADA U20 (World Juniors)
Games Played: 7
Goals: 2
Assists: 3
Points: 5
PIM: 2
Plus/Minus: 0

Fantilli's freshman season at Michigan can be described in one word: historic. He became just the third freshman to win the Hobey Baker Award, joining the elite company of Jack Eichel and Paul Kariya. In an article in The Athletic, his Associate Head Coach at Michigan, Bill Muckalt, has stated he's never seen a freshman have such an impact on a team. It was so much more than his nearly two points-per-game that he was putting up that impressed his coaches. As the season progressed, Fantilli became his team's most trusted face off specialist and an effective penalty killer. It just goes to show the maturity of the kid, and his willingness to constantly improve all aspects of his game, particularly the ones he doesn't naturally excel at.

Matty Beniers has the Calder Trophy all but locked up at this point, and came into the league to put up a 50+ point season after a very impressive sophomore year at Michigan. Fantilli surpassed Beniers' numbers as a freshman, and is not just NHL ready, but ready to make an immediate impact in the NHL. He checks all the boxes for what the Jackets desperately need.

Scouting Reports

"Adam Fantilli has every tool that an NHL team would dream of having with their top overall selection. He’s got the physical tools of size, strength, speed and lateral mobility. He has amazing puck skill with the ability to do it at full speed and in small area situations. He can protect the puck, put his shoulder down and power through a defender, or put it under a defender’s stick and put them through the spin cycle. His vision is high-end with the ability to find lateral teammates and move defenders out of passing lanes to open up new scoring opportunities. He has a heavy wrist shot and a dynamite one-timer.  The power play could run through Fantilli or he could be the trigger man." - Austin Garret, Smaht Scouting

"Fantilli possesses everything a scout looks for in a top-line center. From his size, speed, and playmaking ability to his hockey IQ, puckhandling, and accurate shot, he has all the tools to be a massive difference-maker in the NHL one day. It’s only his first year in the NCAA and he’s already dotting the highlight reels with his slick one-on-one dekes, snipe show of a shot, power moves to the net and most of all, beautiful end-to-end rushes." - Matthew Zator, The Hockey Writers

"There’s so much to love about Fantilli’s NHL projection. He’s got a huge frame, skates well and competes very hard. He wins a lot of battles and isn’t shy to use his big frame to lay out opponents. He has gamebreaking puck skills and will be able to beat NHL opponents regularly with his puckhandling, especially given his speed and wingspan. His playmaking isn’t the main thing that gets you excited about his game, but Fantilli can make difficult passes and has strong enough sense to create chances in the NHL. His shot is also a threat from range. That he can create with so much pace is what makes him exciting from an NHL perspective. He checks every box and projects as a No. 1 center on a good NHL team." - Corey Pronman, The Athletic

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