Leo Carlsson and Adam Fantilli, who were drafted back-to-back in the NHL draft, formed a bond in Las Vegas prior to their professional careers. Both players engaged in activities such as golf and eating fast food together during the league’s Stanley Cup Final tour for top draft prospects. However, their paths diverged when the Anaheim Ducks surprised everyone by choosing Carlsson over Fantilli with the second overall pick. Regardless of this twist, both players have made significant progress in their NHL careers. They have secured “top six” center roles and have even scored their first goals, with Fantilli netting the winning goal in a thrilling 5-4 overtime victory against the Minnesota Wild. Now, they are set to face each other in their first head-to-head meeting as professionals at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday.
The NHL is an ever-evolving league where everything moves at a rapid pace, including players’ careers.
Fantilli expressed his excitement about the upcoming game, stating that playing in the NHL has been a lifelong dream for him. He finds it incredibly cool that he and Carlsson will have the opportunity to compete against each other and eagerly looks forward to taking the ice with him.
Although Carlsson and Fantilli had the chance to face each other during the World Junior Championships in January, their lines did not align. Carlsson played on Sweden’s top line, while Fantilli skated on the fourth line for the gold-medal winning Canadian team. They also participated in the Men’s World Championships; however, Sweden was eliminated before the opportunity for a rematch arose in the medal rounds.
A month later, Carlsson and Fantilli spent time together in Las Vegas alongside other top draft prospects, namely Connor Bedard (selected first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks) and Will Smith (chosen fourth overall by the San Jose Sharks).
Fantilli revealed that during their time in Las Vegas, they had the freedom to engage in various activities. One of the highlights was their visit to Topgolf. Additionally, they made sure to introduce Carlsson to the popular fast-food chain Raising Cane’s, which he had never experienced before. Overall, they had an enjoyable time together.
Their upcoming meeting in Columbus promises to be a different kind of fun. While Carlsson and Fantilli are not inclined to discuss their motivations in relation to the draft, they both possess the potential to draw inspiration, if required.
Since the Anaheim Ducks chose Carlsson in the draft, there has been much discussion about the surprise factor and possibly even labeling it as a mistake. On the other hand, Fantilli has his own motivation after falling to the Blue Jackets. A pre-draft recording of him expressing his desire to play in Columbus emerged following the selection process. However, most people believed that he was a consensus choice for the Anaheim Ducks.
While it is tempting to talk about the proverbial “chip on the shoulder,” Fantilli has chosen not to dwell on it.
Fantilli recalled making a video in April expressing his desire to play for the Blue Jackets. As a result, he was genuinely thrilled to have the opportunity to join the organization. He emphasized that he was extremely satisfied with how the draft unfolded for him and had no regrets about not being selected second overall. Fantilli was content with where he ultimately landed in the draft.
Fantilli would undoubtedly be delighted with a victory over the Ducks. However, the outcome of the game is not contingent on his match-up against Carlsson. Both players are just starting their careers, and it is premature to make substantial comparisons. Fantilli expressed his intention to focus on his own development throughout the 82-game season. His primary goal is to become a better and more well-rounded professional player, rather than fixating on the distant future.
Sarah Anderson dives into the fast-paced world of NHL hockey. Her coverage includes game analysis, player spotlights, and the latest news from the ice. Sarah’s dedication to the sport ensures that hockey enthusiasts stay informed about the NHL’s thrilling action.