Italians are synonymous with soccer, not hockey. In fact, there are only a handful of players of Italian descent throughout the NHL’s history. The Esposito Brothers, Alex Delvecchio, and Eddie Giacomin may all come to mind when you think about Italians in the NHL; however, another will be joining this roster in 2023.
While the attention this draft year is on generational talent like Connor Bedard, the projected second-overall pick is one to remember. Adam Fantilli, a center playing for Michigan, is a rising star in the hockey world. Standing at 6 feet 2 inches (without skates), he has solidified his talent in the hockey world by earning the Hobey Baker Award as a freshman. He is one to watch for future Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Who is Adam Fantilli?
Born to Julia and Giuliano Fantilli in Nobleton, Canada, Adam Fantilli is the grandson of an Italian immigrant who settled in Canada. Adam’s Father noticed his son’s athletic ability and how he excelled in sports. As a hockey fan, Guiliano was a Boston Bruins fan who never missed a game and exposed the sport to his sons, Adam and Luca, fueling their love for hockey. Adam has attributed his devotion to the Bruins franchise and his love of hockey to his father’s influence and support.
Adam received his first pair of ice skates shortly after his second birthday and started his journey in the ice hockey world. He spent his younger years playing alongside his brother Luca, developing skills for competing in amateur leagues. After years of intense hard work and devotion to the sport, Adam is considered one of the top players in the NCAA league, emerging as a star forward.
In the 2023 NHL Combine, Fantelli came away with near-perfect scores in skating and offense, also having top scores in other categories like Hockey IQ, Physicality, and Defense. His projection is to be a top-three forward, something of interest to many NHL teams. Those scores are not surprising from the Hobey Baker winner who ended his most recent season with 30 goals and 35 assists in 36 games. His competitive spirit earned him a spot on the Canadian national team and competed in international tournaments like the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics and the 2022 World U18 Championships.
While the draft picks are soon to be selected, it is projected that Adam Fantilli will be drafted by the Anaheim Ducks. He’d fit perfectly with their youth movement along with players like center Trevor Zegras, center Mason McTavish, and defenseman Jamie Drysdale.
Assistant Editor for America Domani, AJ Forrisi is a Brooklyn-based writer and photographer. His work focuses on food, travel, sports, landscapes, and urban scenes. You can find him on Instagram @aj.photo.works.