The Top 20 Under 24 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of five staff writers and over 300 readers that ranked prospects under the age of 24 and have played less than 125 NHL games.
Next up in our Top 20 Under 24 prospect rankings is the young Matteo Costantini, selected by the Sabres in the fifth round of this year’s draft. Costantini is a somewhat local product; he spent the last several years training at Harborcenter and was a critical piece of the OJHL’s Buffalo Jr. Sabres last season before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the season in the midst of playoffs.
In the interest of full transparency: I work with that Jr. Sabres team, so I got to know Matteo pretty well in his one season playing in Buffalo. My personal impression: he’s young - he only just turned 18 in August - but he’s got a good head on his shoulders. He had scouts from all over visiting him on a regular basis, and he never let it go to his head. His focus on the ice was impressive, and his skill with the puck is undeniable.
After his first season playing junior-A hockey, Costantini skated away with a number of accolades, including rookie of the year for the OJHL and a finalist for the same title with the CJHL. He also committed to the prestigious University of North Dakota hockey program.
COMMITMENT: The @BuffaloJrSabres organization is proud to congratulate Matteo Costantini on his commitment to continue his education & hockey career with @NCAAIceHockey @UNDmhockey!— Buffalo Jr. Sabres (@JrSabresOJHL) September 15, 2020
✅ @OJHLOfficial ROY
✅ @cjhlhockey ROY finalist
✅ @NHL Draft Prospect
With so much up in the air right now due to the pandemic, the St. Catharines, Ontario native has taken his talents to the BCHL this season. The BCHL hasn’t begun its regular season just yet; they’re only in exhibition play, but already Costantini is showcasing his talents. He was named an alternate captain, and has recorded 16 points in 11 games so far.
Costantini has plenty of room to grow in the coming years. He’s still very young, only barely 18, but he could certainly go far. He’s getting a good start to his future: billeting with Hockey Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer in B.C. while he’s playing with Penticton this season. He’ll head to North Dakota beginning with the 2021-22 season, and we’ll see just where things go with Costantini and the Sabres organization from there.