Birthdate: April 11, 2003
Birthplace: Stoney Creek, Ontario
Weight: 185 lbs
Draft: 2nd round, 42nd overall, 2021 NHL Entry Draft
Pinelli had a spectacular season in the OHL with the Kitchener Rangers that saw him reach career-highs in goals (41), assists (49), and points (90) in 60 games played. He finished the season averaging 1.50 points per game, which was good enough for 10th in the OHL. I didn’t have a chance to watch a full OHL game, but the highlights I saw showed how much of a good playmaker Pinelli is. His vision on the ice is as good as it gets and is able to thread pucks in those small windows. He also displayed his two-way game by leading the OHL with five short-handed goals.
The second-year captain of the Rangers played a critical role in helping the team reach the playoffs as an eight-seed and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player for the 2022-2023 season. Pinelli continued his great play for the Rangers in the playoffs but received a three-game suspension in the Rangers’ first-round matchup against the heavily favored Windsor Spitfires for a blindside hit. The Rangers would sweep the Spitfires without Pinelli but fall in the second round against the London Knights. After the Rangers’ season ended, Pinelli was recalled to the LA Kings to serve as a “Black Ace” for the Kings’ playoff run.
Francesco Pinelli the Kings’ second-round pick (42nd overall) from the 2021 draft is tearing up the OHL.
• 39 games played
• 30 goals
• 30 assists
— Russell Morgan (@NHLRussell) February 7, 2023
Pinelli is expected to play in the AHL for the Ontario Reign this year. With him in the fold, the Reign will be deep down the middle. Making the jump from juniors to professional hockey will come with adjustments for Pinelli, as with every prospect. With Alex Turcotte healthy, I expect Pinelli to take the third-line center role. At development camp, I noticed Pinelli and Martin Chromiak had great chemistry and I think those two can work well together on the same line if head coach Marco Sturm opts to go that route. With his strong two-way game, I would expect him to see time on the power play and penalty kill, and earn the trust of Sturm in the process. Let’s see what the first professional season of hockey has in store for Pinelli, who was ranked as the number four prospect in the Kings system, according to Tracy Myers of nhl.com.
Main photo credit: Tiffany Luke/Kitchener Rangers